Taylor Swift, the country and western singer turned princess of pop has soared to even higher heights of success this year. With 1.28 million sales of her new release, 1989 in its first week, Swift exceeded even the most hyped expectations. 1989 made the most sales for an album in its first week since Eminem’s in 2002. But numbers aside, the nature of, and activity surrounding, the release was a master class in content marketing that other brands should benchmark their own efforts against. We take a closer look at some of the tactics she has employed and analyse their merits, below.
Swift’s has carved herself a corner of the market that is quite unlike any other female artist. Her digital platforms feel so familiar, they have the atmosphere of a slumber party; complete with fluffy cushions, kittens and her album on the stereo. She held ‘Ask Me Anything’ Skype and Twitter sessions, providing an open and honest dialogue with her fans . She also asked for fans help in setting up her Tumblr account (one month prior to album release) and now reposts fan interactions with her own added complimentary comments. With 13 million Instagram followers, her album launch was perfectly documented within the windows of her feed. From the Polaroid front cover, to hand written notes featuring teaser #1989lyrics, Swift nailed her USP as the global superstar who is just like you and I. She is very tactful with the amount of self-promotion on her social channels, relying equally on other internet staples, namely cats, memes and nostaligia to keep her feeds relevant, fun and seemingly low-key.
Swift seamlessly bridges the gap between the digital and real world through carefully planned marketing activations. In her ‘Secret Sessions’, hundreds of lucky fans were invited to Swift’s homes across the US and UK where she baked cookies for them, introduced them to her cats and gave them a sneak preview of 1989. Fans also starred in the music video for “Shake it Off”. Her most avid fans also received early Christmas presents (coinciding with her album release) sent whilst touring around the world. These are all undeniably both very touching and very clever. These PDAs cement Swift’s image as the kind, thoughtful friend who is always thinking of others – whether that be inviting them to party on set or receiving her gifts. Of course all this activity is meticulously curated across her social media channels for all her fans and followers to see, allowing them to join in the fun.
Swift isn’t your friend alone though, as she has her own network of celeb pals who organically market her latest releases. Ed Sheeran and Lena Dunham both used their social media clout to declare how brilliant her new album is. Swift also holds alternative ‘private’ gatherings for the cool, approachable generation of American superstars – actress Emma Stone, the ‘nice model’ Karlie Kloss and fellow musician Lorde to name a few. In doing so, she circulates her profile to wider fan bases of other respected young stars, gaining new audiences and furthering her credibility from their approval and endorsements.
A key to Swift’s appeal is the presentation of her persona. In each post or appearance, she appears refreshingly raw, wholesome and real. You would be forgiven for thinking she is talking about herself when she describes her friend Lorde as being
“like this blazing bonfire. You can either be afraid of it because it’s so powerful and strong, or you can go stand near it, because it’s fun and it makes you brighter.”
Seemingly only on the other side of a screen from her millions of fans, just another avid fan like them, ensures Swift is the bright spark they want to stay close to.
The success of such a brand can be seen in her decision to withdraw her music from Spotify, stating that music albums should be viewed as pieces of art, and valued as such. Again, Swift deftly leads the conversation back to her role as impassioned friend, stating;
My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet . . . is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.
Taylor Swift clearly knows her worth and if she doesn’t feel she is getting value for her work, is not afraid to move on. But that’s fine because she’ll still have an army of Swifties supporting her, following her every move, retweeting her as she goes.