Confession time: I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. Her presence on social media (YouTube, specifically) is what hooked me first, and when she released Fearless, I knew I would be a fan for a long time.
Her popularity has soared with underdog anthems like “Mean” and “Shake It Off” which gave a voice to the bullied. Through elaborate storytelling and catchy melodies, fans have always gotten a glimpse into her life. She wrote beautiful country songs about former flings and high school mean girls we would never meet.
However, the more high-profile you get, the more high-profile your stories get – and the other parties involved have louder voices to fight back.
The epic feuds she’s involved in with Katy Perry and Kanye West will be talked about for a long time. If she wants to continue being a top artist, she and her team have to make sure she’s geared up for the long haul.
Lucky for us Swift fans, there’s one thing she does better than music – business. Here are a few ways Swift is a better businesswoman than singer:
She knows how to pivot. I just started watching Mad Men again and Taylor’s new music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” reminds of one of my favorite lines: “If you don’t like what they are saying, change the conversation.” Swift tends to change the conversations by tackling them head on. In her 1989 album, she addressed criticisms and perceptions by playing along with the character she says the media created.
For the past year or so, the snake emoji has filled the comment sections of her social media accounts. After her internet hiatus and deleting everything from her accounts, what was the first thing she posted? A cryptic, flashing snake gif. Just a little visual that says, “I know what you’re saying about me.” It left everyone on the edge of their seats waiting for what would come next.
While many say her new song is a direct hit toward Kanye and Katy Perry, I think it’s again a bigger statement about how she has been portrayed in the media. I mean, her new album is called Reputation after all. In the very end of the “LWYMMD” music video, we see the many different versions of Taylor Swift throughout her career, all fighting one another like one is more contradictory than the next. This self-awareness is what keeps fans coming back.
She is always engaging with her fans on social media (even when she’s not). Swift built up her fan base by meeting them where they’re at – online. In the beginning, she filmed vlogs of her life and let fans into her world. When she became a little too busy for that, she moved on to Tumblr where she responded to posts on a daily/weekly basis. She became a part of her fans’ lives when she started showing up to bridal/baby showers and sending wedding gifts in her absence. They weren’t fans of Taylor anymore – they were friends of Taylor. This level of engagement created a solid foundation for her fan base.
So with all of the hard work it took to create this base on social media, it was a big surprise when she recently deleted every single post on all of her accounts. Every. Single. One. As someone who has worked on a company rebrand before, it was a pretty gutsy move that caught the attention of what seemed like the entire internet. As my former colleague and fellow Swift fan pointed out, “when there’s so much noise online, you really do have to do something different in order to make a splash.”
She tied tour ticket sales to her album/merch sales. Bots and scalpers have been taking tour tickets away from real fans (obviously not just from Swift fans) for a while. Engadget wrote a great article explaining how Swift and Ticketmaster partnered up to make sure just her fans were going to the concerts. They came up with a system on her website that gives fans higher priority for tickets depending on several different factors, including purchasing her merch and pre-ordering the new album. This strategy, while a little infuriating, guarantees an all-around win for Swift. She will able to break records on album sales, YouTube views, and her wallet.