Let me start by saying that I am NOT a Swiftie. I’ve never been interested in her music, her love life, or what statement she was planning on making next with her music.
My wife, however, is a big Swiftie. And she’s made me a playlist called “Taylor Swift as told by Devin” that I have never listened to of my own free will. In the past few months, my wife has filled me in on every song, what moment it took place in or after, who it’s about and what it could possibly mean.
And as a communications professional, witnessing Taylor Swift’s mastermind has been an astounding case study in how to do comms right. Here are a few of my favorite things:
Controlling the narrative
Taylor Swift has mastered the art of controlling the narrative. Instead of resorting to social media or interviews to address controversies or respond to rumors, she uses her songwriting and music to “speak now,” if you will.
Take for example the recent release of Taylor’s version of “All Too Well,” which set the internet ablaze (once again) with Jake Gyllenhaal chatter. In an ingenious move, she extended the song to a 10-minute version full of very explicit anecdotes about their previous relationship. To further emphasize her point and her version of the events, she accompanied the song with a captivating mini movie music video that depicted an older man and younger girl, hinting at the age gap between them and other obvious snubs.
Yet, despite all the obvious signs, Taylor Swift never outright confirmed or denied the connection, allowing the rumor mill to fuel her narrative. This tactic has led to an entire cultural moment revolving around the song, demonstrating her incredible ability to control every aspect of the conversation without directly engaging in it.
Lastly, let’s not forget that she is quite literally re-releasing her older albums as “Taylor’s Versions” to reclaim ownership of her music. This move both grants her control over her new masters and sends a powerful message about artistic autonomy and taking charge of her own story.
Die-hard fan engagement
A good comms professional in 2023 knows that people want to work with people over any brand or logo. Taylor Swift has always recognized the value of her fans and has continuously provided them with meaningful touchpoints into her life. Through exclusive fan meet and greets, private sessions, intimate stripped-down performances, and her active presence on social media, she has cultivated an incredibly loyal and devoted fan base.
So loyal, in fact, that she has been able to influence them to create positive change. Among many other examples, this has been made abundantly clear (and my inspiration for writing this article, really) by the way she has make a whole audience actively update all of their playlists with “Taylor’s Versions,” resulting in the re-recordings surpassing the original versions in streams.
These examples prove that the connection you make with your audience is the reason they stick around.
Personal branding and storytelling
Have you heard about the Eras Tour at all in the last month? I’m sure you have.
And what a spectacle it is has been to witness! Heck, I heard just this week that her tour is fueling local economies. Fortune’s Broadsheet reports analysts are recognizing it as the “Tswift Lift” – with the entire tour projecting to gross over $1 billion.
Taylor Swift’s attention to detail and personal touches in the way she promotes her music and albums are nothing short of remarkable.
To keep it simple, let’s talk about her recent album release for “Midnights.” Taylor Swift, known for her easter eggs and storytelling, decided that this album promo was going to be a masterclass in social media engagement.
Through her Instagram series titled “Midnights Mayhem With Me,” she creatively used a bingo roller machine filled with ping pong balls to reveal the names of the album’s 13 tracks. Each of these Instagram Reels contained hidden easter eggs, captivating her fans and piquing their interest. (The number 13 is an easter egg itself in the Swifteverse, according to the Swifties.)
The results speak for themselves: “Midnights” sold more than 1.2 million album units in the U.S. during its first three days of release alone. This is impressive in the digital age, and highlights the limitless possibilities for creativity and connecting with your audience.
Whether you are a fan of Taylor Swift’s music or not, her impact on pop culture and her mastery of communications and personal branding cannot be denied. Through cleverly controlling the narrative, engaging with her fans in genuine and personal ways, and crafting captivating storytelling, she has carved her place as a cultural phenomenon and a role model for artists and communicators alike. There’s no doubt that the lessons we can learn from Taylor Swift will resonate far beyond the world of music and entertainment – and should be a source of inspiration for communication professionals looking to break out of the norm and try something different.
Looking to break out of the norm? Bospar can help! Check out some of our most creative campaigns and let us do some Taylor Swift-esque work for you.