I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Cause she’s busy re-branding herself…again. And I am ready for it.
For the past two months, Taylor has been filling her Instagram feed with dreamy pink images, exciting fans about the possibility of a new era. It’s a tactic we know all too well. She introduced her previous era, Reputation in the same cryptic style.
Call it what you want. But Taylor’s a (brand) love story, baby just say yes. And here’s what she can teach us about Marketing.
Own your Reputation
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that Swift’s reputation took a hit a couple years back with some drama. She found herself in the midst of a battle to protect her then squeaky clean persona. But Swift took that drama and turned it into her multi-million dollar album Reputation. She owned her mistakes and was candid about the negative state of her reputation. Sure, you may not deal with the same amount of negative press Taylor does with mistakes and issues, but there is a lesson here. Mistakes will happen, issues will arise. Own them. Never mislead your customers when there’s a hiccup. Be honest and fix it in a timely manner. Show you’re doing the work. Your customers will appreciate your integrity. And we believe without integrity, nothing works.
Connect with your Audience
Marketing is a lot like dating. You want people to fall in love with your brand. What’s one way to do that? Start the conversation. Taylor keeps the lines of communication open with her fans. One way is through Tumblr. It’s a goldmine of interactions between her and her biggest fans. She’s done this for so long she even has a personalized term for it: “taylurking.” She even gives dating advice when her fans send messages about their breakups:
So what can we learn from Taylor? Don’t just use your social media accounts to promote your own product. Use it as a means for customer feedback, answering questions, addressing issues, and engaging with your audience. Give you audience a voice. If you want customers to show appreciation for your company and products, you have to show appreciation for them. Go ahead and like their comments and comment on photos that people post of you and your product. Give shoutouts to dedicated fans. You’ll be accessible and build a community of brand ambassadors.
This is simple. Find your biggest fans and reward them. This is why we can(‘t) have nice things. But there’s more to it than knowing you have a lifetime customer on your hands. This will be a community of your people. How does Taylor practice this? In the lead up to both 1989 and Reputation, Taylor created a series of events called the Secret Sessions where she scoured the internet for her most loyal fans and invited them to her HOME. Yes, you heard me. I’m still waiting for my invite, Taylor. She made them cookies, played her newest songs before their release, and took photos with each fan invited. She followed up her 1989 Secret Sessions with Swiftmas, where she chose a number of loyal fans, stalked their profiles, learned a little about them, and then sent them personalized presents:
Thanks to this video, everyone in the world was able to learn how much Taylor cares about her fans, which further supports her fan bases’s brand loyalty. How can you translate this into your business? Perhaps a reward program? Birthday rewards? Your customers will only grow to love you more and become your loyal brand advocates.
Create Your (Brand) Love Story
When you think Taylor Swift, you think love stories and ex-boyfriends. The media has often made her out to be the boy-crazy, psychotic ex-girlfriend. And if you date her and things end badly, expect a song. While most artists would have run from this, Taylor remained true to her lyrics about the trials and tribulations of love. She understands that her fans connect with her because of the stories she chooses to tell. They resonate with their lives and experiences.
I am not saying your story can’t evolve and change directions. But your values, personality and worldview must stay the same throughout your evolution. These are the things that build brand loyalty and commitment and keep your customers coming back. They know what they’re getting. When you repeatedly bring up the same values and messaging, your audience will associate you with certain characteristics and qualities. This builds trust. Trust builds brand love. That’s the end game, right?
Be a Risk Taker
In anticipation of her album Reputation, Taylor did the unthinkable. She went social media dark. From her Twitter, to Instagram, Facebook, and even her website. Everything was wiped. Her fans were abuzz with theories about what the sudden wipe could mean. That was until August 21, 2017. Swift announced her latest album that day with coordinated posts across her social media accounts. She was back in business. And by deleting her social media past, she captured the attention of her fans (and the world) and shifted the focus to the future. A blank space and a fresh start.
Your image change doesn’t have to be this dramatic. Reinventing a brand can be intimidating. But if you refuse to be innovative with content, your audience will eventually grow bored. So challenge yourself to create content outside of your comfort zone. Leave the box. Maintaining the attention of your customers requires an ever-evolving image. You might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
Keep the Conversation Going
To further the conversation on social media about your brand, encourage your audience to use branded hashtags in their posts. This is especially important during events and special promotions. During Taylor’s Reputation Stadium Tour, her team Taylor Nation had her fans use #reptour(cityname) when discussing which city they were going to attend the concert in.
Her fans used the hashtag to tweet and Instagram abut their excitement before the show, share photos during the show, and continue the conversation days and even months beyond the show. Fans who were unable to attend the shows felt like they were there just because they followed the hashtag.
What can you do? Create a brand hashtag for your loyal fans. If you have an upcoming event, get people talking before it even happens. Build the hype. Additionally during the event, people can use the hashtag to share photos and videos with their networks, ultimately building awareness around yours. You’ll get access into networks you never had before and build your community.
So what should we take away from all of this? Be as honest and personal as possible with your customers. Take risks, build relationships and you will find your people.