Why Taylor Swift can teach us all a thing about content marketing

I haven’t published a blog post in awhile and an idea came to me while reading Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman that happens to incorporate two things I’m passionate about: music and marketing.

Whatever you call her – T Swift, T Swizzle, Swifty, Tay – and whether or not you like her music, the music star is a leader when it comes to promoting her brand. She does it flawlessly, without you knowing she’s self-promoting. She does it by showing she cares about her fans and everyday things (ie. baking, kittens) and comes off as authentic and human while doing so – a rare mix in the world of celebrity, making her stand in a league of her own.

Taylor from video Blank Space

via YouTube – Taylor Swift “Style”

Content marketing is a popular buzzword these days. According to the Content Marketing Institute, it refers to “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

What that means in contrast to traditional marketing is the focus on “valuable, relevant and consistent content” – information that is interesting to, helps, or is useful to, the end recipient in some way. Kind of like ‘news you can use’… but with marketing material.

Taylor (let’s go on a first-name basis since it’s so easy to feel like BFFs with the star) knows her audience and plays exceptionally well to them. She speaks their language, shares their interests (did I mention baking and kittens?) You don’t see her tweeting “buy my album” or telling the audience “get 20% off my latest single” at The Ellen Show.

via Facebook

“A unique, human-sounding corporate voice is critical if you want to engage, stimulate, or excite your audience – especially now, when your content is increasingly an essential mechanism through which to define, enhance, and clarify who you are. Your tone of voice, in other words, is your greatest ally: It’s the basis for the relationship you hope to create with your customers, along with your products, service, and culture – all the other things that go into a brand.” – Content Rules (page 31)

Instead of push marketing messages, you see the artist engaging with her fans – both online and offline – on a daily basis by sharing recipes, glimpses into her life, thoughtful comments on individuals’ profiles, thanking them and even sending customized letters and gifts.

via YouTube

Taylor’s recent Gift of Giving campaign went viral when she sent personalized holiday gifts to select fans that had reached out to her through social media. Dubbed “Swiftmas,” the video currently has more than 16,300,000 views on YouTube and shows Taylor wrapping packages with hand-written cards and overjoyed, teary-eyed, screaming girls receiving them.

She goes the extra mile for her fans and it shows through. After all, Taylor’s latest record, 1989, was the top-selling album of 2014, having sold 3.66 million copies, and she was named Billboard’s fourth top artist of the year last year.

The star seemingly crafts her own content for social media, as well, as opposed to being written in the third-person. It’s natural, personal and gives off a very genuine impression. This point shouldn’t really be all that novel a concept, but how refreshing it is to read a celebrity’s tweets as if they’re coming from them as opposed to their social media team!

via Facebook

She differentiates herself by having a strong and consistent brand personality – be it online or at awards shows – that creates such amazing fan loyalty.

Most recently, Taylor tracked down a fan of hers who she knew (via Tumblr) would be at The Grammys and arranged to meet her.

Screen shot 2015-02-16 at 2.45.20 PM

via Twitter

I hope we see more and more clever content marketing – from music personalities and corporations, alike. When companies can be the ones to provide relevant insight, help consumers fix a problem, teach them something, provide advice or interesting facts, it creates a relationship so that, hopefully, the next time they require their service or product, they purchase it from that brand.

Taylor, leading the charge, has fans coming back for more. She shares and comments on user-generated content, like this mash-up of Taylor Swift songs by Louisa Wendorff.

via YouTube

These things undoubtedly contributed to 2014 being named “The Year of Taylor Swift” by Rolling Stone.

And even if you don’t agree, she’ll just shake it off.

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