Whether you love her or you hate her, you know about her, and this is thanks to the genius marketing strategies behind Taylor Swift’s brand. After almost completely disappearing for months, Swift reemerged in August with a better marketing plan than ever. While Swift has deployed excellent marketing strategies throughout the entirety of her career, for the purpose of this piece I’ll focus on the strategy she’s using to promote her new album, Reputation, which is being released this Friday.
To give you a summary, Swift seemingly randomly wiped her social media accounts one day in August and went completely dark. A few days later, videos of a snake started appearing on her account, leading fans and onlookers alike to wonder what this meant. She later announced the release of her new album and its first single, “Look What You Made Me Do.” In the time since, Swift has solely used her social media accounts to promote the releases of singles from the album and to get fans excited about the full album’s release. There are a number of lessons marketers can learn from the way Swift has promoted her new album, but here are my three main takeaways:
1. CREATE A NARRATIVE
Despite asking to be left out of certain narratives, Taylor Swift’s career and personal life both have very long narratives that are constantly being talked about. But, with the release of her new album, she has officially turned this into part of her marketing strategy. It seems the story Swift is portraying is that after years of being gossiped about and criticized, she’s finally going rogue. She disappeared, then completely wiped away any remnants of her former self by erasing all of her previous posts on social media, which signaled that a rebirth of sorts was coming. Many people speculate the appearance of the snake videos is symbolic of Swift shedding her “good girl” image and embracing what everyone has said about her in the past. “Look What You Made Me Do” supports this, with Swift poking fun at moments in her past and saying that the old Taylor is dead. All of the subsequent singles and music videos she has released from the album so far support this image of an edgier, revenge-focused Taylor. Furthermore, she has completely taken her personal life out of the news by no longer posting anything about it on social media and trying her hardest to avoid the paparazzi, even going so far as to hide in a suitcase. In fact, people don’t really know anything about her current romance, which is definitely new for her. Swift’s new story could be just that, a made up persona to attract more attention, but either way, it’s working. Fans and media outlets alike have been surprised by her new image and are curious to see how it’ll affect her music, career, and life, and this is likely exactly what her marketing team was aiming for.
2. PUSH THE BOUNDARIES
Many of the tactics Taylor Swift has been using to promote her new album have been innovative and head-turning, and they’re helping the album gain a lot of attention. The first, and arguably most obvious, one was wiping her social media accounts clean. This was relatively unheard of for a celebrity, and it made everyone want to follow her page to see why it happened. When she added the snake videos, the confusion and curiousness drew even more people in to see what was coming next. Even though Swift’s focus on revenge might seem risky, she’s also proved that being seen as the “villain” doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This is how she’s portraying herself now with her re-branding, and people are not only interested but even pleased. It seems that many people were getting very tired of her old superhero act. In general, Swift is currently breaking down walls with her marketing campaigns, and it’s drawing people in.
3. BUILD ANTICIPATION
This has been one of the most impressive feats by Taylor Swift’s marketing team. After Swift’s hiatus, fans were hungry for new music, and the press missed their old hot topic. Swift’s team has completely taken advantage of this with the way they’ve been promoting the album. It all started with Swift’s social media black out, then the snake videos. This ensured that everyone’s eyes would be on her accounts when she released the announcement of “Look What You Made Me Do” and Reputation. It clearly worked, because despite less than enthusiastic opinions about the quality of the song itself, it set first-week streaming records and easily broke into YouTube’s Top 20. Swift has kept building the anticipation for the album by releasing lyrics to songs prior to their debuts, sneak peeks of music videos, and visual countdowns for the big release. The release of Reputation is now easily one of the most, if not the most, anticipated album, release of the year.