What We Can Learn from Taylor Swift

There aren't many out there who would say they don't know who Taylor Swift is. But what can we learn from her that applies to social media marketing and branding? A lot, it turns out. This past September, Swift joined Tumblr. A lot of businesses don't use Tumblr, so to give you a quick summary: 

  • It's not just a social media platform; it's a multimedia microblogging platform. You can share text posts, links, photos, audio files, and video files. And not only can you create and share your own posts, you can "retweet" the posts of others-- known as a "reblog."
  • Unlike more public platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Tumblr is seen by users as a community. To avid users, Tumblr isn't just a social networking site but a huge, tight-knit community where everyone can feel like they belong. It's full of smaller communities in which people have formed real friendships with other users who share their interests, including "fandoms" (groups of people who like the same television shows, movies, etc.), people fighting for a similar cause or people who share similar hobbies. On Tumblr, there's something for everyone. 
  • It's completely customizable. There are no limits to what you can make your blog look like! Tumblr offers free theme options, as well as options available for purchase-- but many users create their own! This is a great way for users to build a website and to express themselves in a way that they can't on other platforms.

Tumblr, for many of its users, is an online collage of everything that makes up their personality and interests them. This is much different from Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, which are just pieces of the puzzle of one's personality. Many brands and celebrities have failed to make this distinction when they sign up for Tumblr, but not Taylor Swift. 

Of course Swift is a 20-something like many of her followers and already has a huge fan base, but more than that she encapsulates everything a typical Tumblr user is: she's open, funny, personable, interactive and willing to share her interests with the world. Here's what Taylor Swift did (and continues to do) right:

  • She asked for help. When Swift ventured into the complicated and quirky world of Tumblr, she didn't just start posting her own content. She sent a message out to her fans that read: "Taylor here. I'm locking myself in my room and not leaving until I figure out how to use my Tumblr. Well, I might leave for a second to get a snack or something, but that is IT. I am FOCUSED. I have lots of questions, help me." And when the community started responding, she interacted with them. Swift obviously had a large amount of followers flocking to her the second she announced she had a Tumblr. But there are a few reasons this worked so well for the singer. First, since she's a celebrity who is often idolized, it made her seem more human, approachable and likeable. And second, it showed that she had an active interest in not only joining the network, but also in using it the right way.
  • She embraces the community. Once Swift figured out how to use Tumblr (thanks in part to all the help she got from her fans), she didn't just start sharing her own content or talking about herself. She used it to connect with fans and become a part of the Tumblr community. When her fans mention her in posts, she reblogs them and responds. She follows her fans and other blogs that interest her, and reblogs content from those, too.

Swift's blog is not saturated with her brand. In fact, most of it is her interactions with the community — something many brands don't achieve on Tumblr. By all accounts, Swift is just like any other Tumblr user, and that's a huge part of what makes her blog so successful. 

  • She isn't afraid to get personal or funny. Swift's Tumblr strategy is important because she's interacting with followers in an extremely personal way. A perfect example of this is her use of the tagging feature. Swift uses the tags the way that most users do, writing humorous things that are often an extension of the body of her posts. She also regularly reblogs pictures and videos of her fans, sharing inspiring words like, "Stay excellent," and writing, "I love you," in the tags. Her blog is consistently warm, welcoming, funny and genuine, and her fans love it.
  • Her blog itself is simple and appropriately understated. As previously mentioned, Tumblr is very customizable. Swift's blog is simple. The layout is clean; the background is the cover of her most recent album; there are links to her other social networks, and there's an iTunes widget built right in where users can purchase or listen to her latest releases. Her blog has everything it needs in a way that is not overwhelming to those who visit it. And most importantly, while it gives visitors the appropriate links to purchase her album or connect with her elsewhere, it doesn't make visitors feel like they're being persuaded to buy into anything. It doesn't feel like an advertising hub for a brand; it feels like a real, genuine blog.

If you want your business to step up its Tumblr game, follow Swift's example. Tailor your content to the audience the best way you can, make things personal and funny when you can, and be interactive. Don't act like a typical brand and just promote yourself — take on a relatable persona (just make sure it's genuine!) and join the community.

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