Taylor Swift is a hugely successful, award-winning singer-songwriter, as well as everyone's imaginary BFF. She's also a bit of a marketing genius.
Whether Taylor's domination of the online world is down to her own savvy or a team of string-pulling professionals, there's no denying that what she is doing is working. In fact, there is a lot that brands can learn from the country star turned pop princess, especially when it comes to marketing strategies.
Band-aids don't fix bullet holes: Changing negative conversations
Not that long ago, people's opinions about Taylor were quite negative. A string of bad and very public relationship breakdowns provided her with great song material but also had the media branding her a 'maneater'.
2013 saw Taylor more likely to be listed as a most hated celebrity than an icon or role model. People started losing interest in her, with magazines like Cosmopolitan suffering their worst sales when she was featured on the cover.
Despite all of this, Taylor managed to get past the negative sentiment to become a well-loved celeb. She did this by removing herself from the public eye for several months and working on rebranding herself.
Rather than relying on tired gender stereotypes in her songs and videos, Taylor started focussing on herself, creating a relatable image. She also spoke about her own contentment in herself, making her seem like a real person.
This strategy worked well and within a year, Swift had managed to reverse opinion and become someone people like and want to emulate.
Brands aiming to move past their negative image should take a leaf out of Taylor's book and change the conversation to a more positive one using a detailed and reactive marketing strategy.
We never go out of style: Staying relevant by being adaptable
Although Taylor has managed to create a brand that is well-liked now, she hasn't allowed this to get boring. The singer is the queen of adaptability, as shown from the fact she managed to transform herself from a country star into a mainstream artist and fashion icon.
The biggest sign of this change is her recent photoshoot for Vogue, which saw her sporting short, platinum blonde hair and chic high-fashion couture. Gone were the perfectly preened natural blonde waves, long skirts and cowboy boots that she was known for when she starred on the cover of Teen Vogue.
This adaptability ensures that Swift is consistently relevant while remaining true to her brand, ensuring she attracts a new audience without alienating her existing one.
In order to be successful, brands need to emulate this ability to adapt to trends and the needs of their audience. Failing to alter strategy and to grow with your audience can mean that your brand begins to lose relevance.
I could show you incredible things: Using social media successfully
Brands today need to master social media in order to engage their audience and this is something that Taylor has perfected. Not only does she network, engage and react across all forms of social media on a regular basis, Taylor also interacts with her fans.
She responds to tweets and Instagram comments, posts to people on Tumblr and generally just makes her audience feel listened to even when she doesn't reply directly to them. Her use of social media isn't just about her and her celebrity life, it is about her fans, which leads to increased engagement and new followers. This has made her one of the most popular people on Twitter and allows her to maintain this position.
Taylor also successfully uses social media to build up hype about album and song releases, which was seen when she was getting ready to release her album 1989 and the video for Bad Blood. This ensured that she was a trending topic in the media and on social platforms.
Her social strategy shows that brands work well when they engage with their audience and join in with their conversations. Too many brands make their social media posts all about them, which isn't engaging. Following Swift's lead and celebrating your audience on your platforms could create a more successful strategy.
I don't wanna dance if I'm not dancing with you: Identifying brand ambassadors
Other than her music, one of the things that Taylor is perhaps best-known for is her 'squad'. She has managed to surround herself with a bevy of female celebrity pals from different professions and with various styles, effectively making them ambassadors for her brand.
From writer, director and actress Lena Dunham to supermodel Cara Delevingne, Taylor's squad is hugely diverse and ensures that she is relevant to a range of different audiences. It has also helped to support the idea that she doesn't need a man to be happy, which was a big part of her re-brand.
While she is regularly pictured with the same group of women, Taylor also managed to expand her squad through her work, using her Bad Blood video to effectively get endorsements for her and her songs from 17 different celebrities. This offered a number of marketing opportunities, ensured she was trending and made Swift a topic of conversation during interviews with every involved celeb.
Brands can achieve similar results by aligning themselves with effective brand ambassadors, whether this is other brands, celebrities or bloggers. These types of endorsements can increase visibility across a wider audience.
However, you need to align your brand with the right ambassador, as they need to share your values and be suitable to speak on your behalf.
I make the moves up as I go
Whether all of this is just Taylor being Taylor or the work of a marketing mastermind remains to be seen, but there is no denying that brands have plenty to learn from Swift.