5 tips digital marketers can learn from Taylor Swift’s strategy

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Taylor Swift is one of the biggest artists in the world, writing and producing music ranging anywhere from pop to indie folk. Over the years, she has built a cult following of millions of devoted Swifties around the world who support her wonderful songwriting abilities. Having built a music empire, it is clear that Swift’s talent goes beyond her music, spanning into the world of marketing, PR and branding. How can we learn from Swift’s strategy as arts marketing professionals?

Tip #1: Use easter eggs to create a sense of mystery 

For those of you who might not know, an easter egg is a hidden reference to the past or future. By incorporating such references throughout Swift’s various music videos, social media posts, and red carpet outfits, she drops hints to her fans about upcoming projects. Sometimes they are right in your face and other times they go undetected until the alluded project is launched. 

With everything she does or releases, Swift’s supporters pick up on small details that the untrained eye would not be able to notice at first glance. For example, Swift painted her nails in various pastel shades in her Delicate vertical music video. This small detail hinted to her upcoming album Lover, which was released about a year and half after this video. 

This method has worked for Swift and her fan base over the years. It creates buzz and excitement on social media that keeps things interesting for all parties involved. Fans love creating theories just as much as Swift enjoys intertwining them in her work, so it is a win-win situation for both everyone involved

Arts marketers can apply this tip by incentivising their audiences to look for easter eggs. By rewarding discovery, viewers will want to take a deeper look at promotional content to uncover the hidden messages related to the project. Whether it is special access or discounts, incentivising in this manner can encourage engagement and train your audience to look for easter eggs in your organisation’s future projects.

Tip #2: Lean on a sense of urgency every now and then

One way that Swift and her team create scarcity is through special release merchandise that is only available for a certain amount of time or in small quantities. Fans countdown the minutes and seconds until these drops start to ensure they can get their hands on just about anything and everything she releases. By emphasising on her platforms that items will only be available for a limited time, fans are incentivised to make a purchase.

On her current tour, Swift performs two surprise songs per show that are not on the tracklist. Each night, fans predict on social media what they think she will perform that night. Some fans even track every song she has done so far to ensure predictions are as accurate as possible. This tactic not only drives engagement online, but it encourages devoted fans to attend multiple shows so they can experience these surprise songs even though the rest of the show is exactly the same.

In the arts marketing space, create a sense of urgency by tapping into limited-time promotions or discounts. Exclusive content or ticket releases are also great ways to further encourage your audience to take action before it is too late!

Tip #3: Consider strategic partnerships with brands and other celebrities

Swift is able to gain traction from a wider audience through her various partnerships. By working with close friends like Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran, fans are more willing to support the collaborations because they stem from genuine relationships rather than just a money grab. Making sure that partnerships are not just transactional is crucial because it shows authenticity to her fans. 

Swift also works with organisations and companies that align with her personal values and support initiatives important to her supporters. One of her most recent collaborations is with Google for her re-release of the 1989 album. Fans searched up the album title on Google and worked together to unlock the names of the new tracks through several puzzles. This technique helped drive her SEO and gave participating fans an inside scoop on the secret song names. 

While most organisations are not connected to these high profile celebrities, there are still opportunities for partnerships with other artists or organisations. Whether it is a collaborative event or cross-promotion on social media platforms, all parties involved will benefit by being able to reach more people as a unit. 

Tip #4: Build relationships online and in-person with supporters

Since the start of her career, Swift has prioritised creating meaningful relationships with her fans. Whether it is on social media or in-person, she makes them feel seen and appreciated through her personal interactions with several Swifties. She personally invited several fans to her various homes in the United States and London for an event called the “Secret Sessions.” At these gatherings, fans got to hang out with her, listen to unreleased music, and meet other fans. Attendees shared their experiences on social media and created excitement for the upcoming album.

On the Reputation tour, several members from her team picked random fans from the crowd and gave them the opportunity to meet Swift for free. These “Rep Room” meet and greets gained a lot of traction online when fans shared their pictures and videos. To get noticed by her team at these shows, fans went the extra mile by wearing funky or extravagant outfits. They would post pictures of their outfits on Twitter and Instagram with specific hashtags to grab their attention. It not only gave her supporters a chance to meet her, but it also brought more attention to the tour.

Like Swift, try to engage with your audience across social media platforms to create a community feel. Engaging with user-generated content and commenting on posts are just two ways your organisation can build deeper relationships with your followers. Personalising communication with your audience is another great way to make them feel seen and heard.  

Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to embrace change 

When Taylor lost the masters to her songs, she had to make a choice. Instead of just moving on from the situation and staying quiet, she decided to persevere through the tough situation and re-record all of her songs. Her fans quickly supported her choice and many even went as far as boycotting all of the original versions because they were no longer owned by her. 

To show her appreciation for their support, Swift recorded songs that have never been released and added them as extra tracks on the re-recorded album. The public applauded Taylor for taking a negative and spinning it into a positive direction. These re-recorded albums have been a great success so far and continue to keep fans excited for what is yet to come!

Make sure to apply this tip in the arts marketing world by responding to shifts in the industry and viewing any changes as opportunities. By embracing these differences instead of shying away from them, your organisation will surely stay ahead of the curve.  

We can’t all be Taylor Swift, and we might not want to be. With that level of fame comes lots of scrutiny and a lack of privacy. However, Swift’s fan base benefits from her marketing savvy work ethic. They are not just fans. They are part of a tight-knit community of devoted and supportive individuals who welcome creativity and fun. Aside from this massive fanbase, Swift also benefits from a large PR team led by Tree Paine who has worked with her for almost 10 years. Arts marketers can pull from Swift’s marketing strategy and work to engage their audiences in similar ways, even if it is on a much smaller scale.

Leslie Aboytes - Marketing Intern