What I’ve Learned About Marketing From Taylor Swift
It’s no secret Taylor Swift is brilliant. But the lead up to her album 1989, the album drop itself, and the post-album-drop months took her marketing prowess, particularly on social media, to a mind-blowing level.
The fact that Taylor Swift is a marketing genius is well known. But here’s are the 3 things I’ve learned from her.
- Surprise & delight done right.
It’s hard to surprise people when things are seemingly online before they’ve even happened. But Taylor has mastered keeping secrets. She’s known for bringing surprise guests on stage during her tours. Mick Jagger? Who wouldn’t, at that point, raise their hand and say, “Hey, can I get some free tickets if I play a song with you on stage?” Not only did she expose her fans (many who may not know the Rolling Stones) to new music, she gave her fellow musicians new audiences.
She continues to promote other musicians on social media, posting photos of friends’ new songs/albums/art. A little good will goes a long way. But one thing to note is she is selective. It’s obvious anything she touches turns to gold (well, musically, that is). If Taylor supported every single new artist she liked, it’d probably lose credibility. So, when she points to a new song you should listen to, you’re going to listen to it.
- Create your narrative.
People are good at ripping people apart. Taylor Swift is no exception. She basically invented squad goals. But she also reaches out to fans, shares her personal life before the paparazzi can (She’s baking cookies! Now she’s at the ocean with her celebrity friends!). By curating her own story, Taylor beats the press to the punch. Sure, paparazzi are still (sadly) employed, but Taylor is able to give fans a deeper, behind-the-scenes look than any stalker with a camera ever will.
Not only does she gets to control what we see, we go directly to her–the source–for our news. It’s helpful that she paired up with some big events and shows to promote various facets of her albums, like the premiere of Bad Blood at the Billboard Music Awards and appearing on The Voice. (And, again, good will! Those young hopefuls are getting mentored by Swift herself!)
- Sustain momentum.
Today, it’s hard to create shockwaves. And if you do drop bombs, the dust seems to settle rather quickly. For example: Beyonce. Lemonade was a sensation when it dropped (and, arguably, still is). But much like Pokemon Go, Lemonade came with a big bang, but it didn’t generate a years-long frenzy like 1989. If the entire 1989 era was a unified galaxy of words and images keeping us in a Talyor Swift orbit, then Bad Blood was its sun.
Like the 1989 album itself, the lead up to Bad Blood started early. The day Lily Aldridge appeared it was clear more friends were to come. You were coming back on day #2 to see find out. And day 3, and 4 … When TRL isn’t around anymore to promote music videos, it’s insane how many eyeballs saw this video. The same tactic kept momentum going throughout her tour. Although photos now came after each show ended, there was that same oh-my-god-who-was-on-stage-last-night anticipation.
1989 came out in 2014. That’s ages ago when new music is on iTunes every day. But it’s striking to me that now that the 1989 dust has settled, and Taylor has been largely quiet on social media and stayed out of the news, that there’s still a low-lying buzz.
It seems like we’re due for some music at some point in the not-so-distant future. And when it hits, I’m just as excited to hear her sonic evolution as I am to see how she promotes her work this go around.