How To Build a Social Media Following Like Taylor Swift
Learn how to do social media marketing the Taylor Swift way — and see how your fans are gonna like, like, like your stuff.
Whether you’re a fan of her music or not, one thing is certain: As far as social media is concerned, Taylor Swift is unstoppable, and few come close to her level as a social media marketing and PR juggernaut.
Fans all over the world have fallen head over heels with her simple charm, and if the numbers are any indication — 64.8 million followers on Twitter, 51 million followers on Instagram (trumping even one-time Instagram queen Kim Kardashian), and almost 72.9 million fans on Facebook — she definitely has everyone’s attention online, too.
As a matter of fact, if you were to discount the fact that she’s, well, Taylor Swift (and handily ignore her follower count), you’ll find that she uses social media just like any typical 20-something girl. She posts selfies, her #OOTDs, photos with friends, and even her quiet moments of cuddling with her pets.
Even more impressive is the fact that she has absolutely no background or formal training in digital marketing.
This means one thing: Taylor Swift has definitely unlocked the secret to social media marketing that so many brands are struggling to discover!
Here are some of the important lessons that any social media marketer can learn from Taylor Swift’s approach to social media management. Want to find out how this young woman not only sang her way to people’s hearts, but also Tweeted and selfie’d her way to social media stardom? Read on:
1. She is the foremost expert on all things Taylor Swift.
Sure, this first point may sound funny to you. After all, isn’t it obvious that the person herself should know what works best for her brand?
Well, if you think about it, Taylor Swift is very careful about what she advertises and the brands she supports, aligning herself only with the brands that work well with her image (such as Keds, for example — a mix of young, simple, and classic, all embodied in footwear).
As I said earlier, she doesn’t use social media as a marketing machine; her social media accounts, her rules.
2. She is very protective of her brand
An interesting story: earlier this year, Taylor Swift bought a couple of adult-rated domain names with her name on them, just so no one else could use them.
She’s smart enough to know what to do to keep her sweet, innocent, and relatable image perfectly preserved — it’s this kind of protectiveness and foresight that brands could certainly benefit from, especially with regard to the kind of content they publish on their own pages or the things that may become associate with their brand identity.
3. She knows how to drum up interest.
While I did say that she doesn’t use her social media accounts as marketing vehicles, she certainly knows how to get attention for her new album releases or campaigns. Posting teases and themed content on her accounts has proven to be effective in getting her fans excited for her latest projects.
In fact, she’s so good at it that she even gets her fans to do her marketing for her (in subtle and rewarding ways), such as when she launched her album “1989.”
4. She knows how to play to the unique strengths of each social media platform
You’ll notice that Taylor Swift engages with her fans differently, depending on which social media platform she’s on. Facebook has become her go-to “promotions” page, where she mostly posts updates about her projects and shares content from other websites (articles, blog posts, etc.) about her.
On the other hand, she uses Twitter to establish a more human and intimate connection with her audience, and harnesses the power of Instagram to build her image and show the world who she really is, figuratively and literally. Taylor Swift also tags her fans and acknowledges them — the mark of a true social media expert who knows the importance of showing your fans that you care.
5. She knows how to use viral content to her advantage
If you recall, I once mentioned that reposting viral content, while a viable social media strategy, is something I wouldn’t recommend that you rely on. Taylor Swift, however, is an example of a person who knows exactly how to take viral content and put her own spin on it.
One example is the “No It’s Becky” social media debacle, wherein a Tumblr user posted a photo of the pop star claiming that she was her friend “Becky.” Tumblr users immediately called her out on it, saying that the photo was that of the pop star, who responded by posting a Polaroid-style photo of herself wearing a shirt that said, “No it’s Becky.”
Another instance was when she acknowledged the dress puzzle (yes, THAT dress puzzle) with a creatively phrased tweet that made it sound like she was merely giving an observation (plus her own guess on the real colors of the dress). Taylor Swift doesn’t just repost or reshare viral content — she finds a way to put her stamp on it.
6. She keeps it real (and knows how to laugh at herself)
The elements of her online personality that drive her social media success are the very same ones that made her the pop sensation and media darling that she is: her emphasis on keeping it simple and real, her relatability, and her capacity to make fun of herself.
It’s these attitudes that make her practically irresistible to her audiences: When it comes to Taylor Swift, what you see is what you get, pretty much. She posts pictures that aren’t edited to perfection, asks her fans for help whenever she needs it, and even uploads pictures of her occasional fashion faux pas.
7. She engages with her fans actively.
The pop star still manages to find time to retweet her followers, comment on their Instagram photos, and even repost their content. Taylor Swift knows that Swifties exist, and she definitely goes the extra mile to show them that she cares about them.
8. She’s friends with the right folks
Fellow musicians Ed Sheeran and Selena Gomez are among the many A-listers who are part of Taylor Swift’s well-known “squad” — her friends onstage and offstage, comprising a sizable group with whom she spends quality time when she’s not busy performing or touring.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, particularly on social media: Taylor Swift actively tags and engages with her pals, regardless of whether or not they’re technically her rivals in the industry. This is why her famous friends also aren’t shy about showing their support for the pop star, providing testimonials about her music and even getting their followers to buy her new albums.
Taylor Swift’s social media strategy is a good case study for brands and marketers to learn from. If anything, this proves that you don’t really need an extensive background in marketing or a high level of expertise or familiarity with social media marketing platforms to succeed at digital marketing (though those two certainly help) — sometimes, simply knowing your audience well and staying true to your own brand will make you a social media smash hit.
Here are some other examples of celebrities who absolutely win at social media.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.