Taylor Swift: The Queen of Marketing & Why You Should Learn From Her
The Lover campaign as much as any other recent Taylor Swift campaign shows consistency, authenticity and that while building fan advocacy early on is key, it’s not to be forgotten later down the line.
Well, Swift is simply put a digital marketing powerhouse and every artist can and should learn from her. She ticks most boxes to market to Gen Z, has built incredible fan relationships, despite being off the grid she makes headlines and of course she is the queen of the Easter egg, causing 1000s of dedicated fans to talk about theories for hours - she’s gamified each of her releases.
OFF THE GRID BUT NOT QUITE?
Similar to Ed Sheeran she made some headlines around tracks she wrote for others, albeit her narrative included a pretty major music couple breakup. Babe followed later on a track she penned and gave to Sugarland, which showed her returning to her roots. People thought the track may set the tone for Lover a record that many thought may have been recorded prior to reputation.
Under the hashtag #Swifties Instagram alone lists 2 million posts. So how has she developed such a dedicated fan base? Taylor has found a way to both let people into her live through her very personal lyrics, but she is also rewarding her avid supporters. Ever heard of #TaylorLurking?
During every album cycle Taylor hosts secret sessions - fans who are selected and contacted via the HQ account TaylorNation. This happens usually around the same time before an album is released, so even before that fans are ALREADY talking about hopefully being contacted. The sessions themselves are hosted around, set up at private locations- including Taylor’s own residences. Everything is decked out with personal touches, and yes fans will both tell you what type of candles Taylor buys as well as keep schtum about any details regarding the album, to avoid leaks.
And if that wasn’t enough she’s sending presents to super fans on Christmas, hosts Christmas baking parties or hand delivered records to the fans door. In short, fans are being fed.
Oh and yes occasionally she turns up at her fan’s doorsteps (more on NME here)
In the age of streaming as a fan I still do really care about full albums for artists I’m buying into. And so do T Swift's younger fans, so the conception of the music industry to not focus on albums or EPs feels tainted to me from a fan and even 'content’ perspective. Especially looking at longevity of an artist. That doesn’t mean that every artist has to release a concept album BUT you need a story. Take Ariana Grande - sweetener and thank u next, both came from a personal POV - all singles released did well. Recently released boyfriend lacked context for fans and didn’t perform as well (even though of course it still did well enough)
So who are the infamous Gen Z and are they Taylor Swift fans? They certainly are! According to Forbes Taylor Swift is amongst the five most popular artists of Gen Z - that’s 'today's teenagers through 23-year olds’ by the way, so says Goldmann-Sachs at least! And if you look at her demographics on Instagram, to me it certainly was surprising that her core audience is younger than 24 years old.
So what does Tay Tay do to make her Gen Z fans tick? She dabbles in activism (well she’s started to be more political at least)
She shares content on Instagram that’s not all designed up - a trick on her designed up Instagram Stories is that often Swipe Up arrows aren’t added and text is added within the app, which makes even those more marketing-y posts look like Taylor could have posted them. And of course she does direct to camera videos A LOT.
QUEEN OF THE EASTER EGG
Not everyone is aware of this, but Taylor Swift has been using this as a marketing strategy to keep her fans engaged in about every album cycle. There are Twitter threads, dedicated Instagram accounts and Tumblr pages as well as long-form Youtube videos all talking about the same thing - theories on all the hidden messages and Easter eggs Taylor is hiding within her music, videos, promo videos - EVEN within marketing assets such as the new Amazon music ad or when she is featured on magazine covers.
So why is this something more artists should at least consider? Well firstly any release will be gamified, videos will be watched hundreds of times to find something that could give a clue, even long after the release. Secondly, magazines and TV shows will see a boost in reader and viewership, worth to have Taylor return again, similar to the Amazon ad piece - it almost makes it less of a marketing chore and suddenly it is a fun asset worth a rewatch. And lastly, it gets fans talking amongst them selves and sharing peer to peer.
Yes Swift is a marketing powerhouse - she goes to such lengths as deliberately doing weird stuff just so her fans can make GIFs of her. But she is also moving on her fans level, she’s touchable and she knows how they tick. She’s ‘creating’ stans and fan girls and keeps them entertained. Fans make an artists and Swift knows.
“To be a fan is to scream alone together … To go on a collective journey of self-definition. It means pulling on threads of your own narrative and doing so with friends and strangers who feel like friends.”
P.S: Read Fangirls by Hannah Rose Ewens
P.P.S: Happy Lover Release Day! 💕