Swift, Taylor Swift: The Social Media Espionage of A Superstar

Taylor Swift is one of the hardest working artists right now.

Source: @taylorswift13/Twitter
Image Credit: @taylorswift13/Twitter Taylor Swift (2014)

As PFriddle2014 put it, “It has become clear that in order to actually sell a product to millennials, you cannot explicitly sell a product” (PFriddle2014, 2014).

Taylor Swift has done this by creating a brand that is about lifestyle, storytelling, and deep connection with her audience.

Swift uses social media intensely, above and beyond other music artists and performers. There is a hashtag term #taylurking that Swift uses to let her fans know she is watching and listening to them. She not only pays attention to her fans, she also pays attention to the haters. In many ways Taylor Swift is as much a superstar as she is a super spy. In an industry where the standards of success have changed, where superstars like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Beyonce are achieving success at lower unit sales than 10 years ago, Taylor Swift shows promise in finding the secret to success in the digital age.

Swift’s new album “1989” sold 1.287 million copies in its first week, the closest a female entertainer has been to breaking the record still held by Britney Spear most for units sold in an album’s first week (Spears’ “Oops…I Did It Again” (2000) album sold 1.319 million units in its first week). (McAllen, 2014)

What is Taylor’s secret to success?

I read a piece in the latest issue of Billboard magazine that identified six strategies that culminated in Swift’s successful first week sales of her new album “1989.” (Christman, Caulfield, and Gruger, 2014).







Taylor Swift’s decisions and the decisions of her management and label were well informed, well timed, and well executed. Of all the strategies implemented, I believe #2 (CONNECT WITH FANS SOCIALLY AND EMOTIONALLY) was the thread that tied all the points of the tapestry tight like piano wire and killed the competition.

One thing that most fans want is a personal touch, getting to meet their favorite entertainer and not being disappointed to find them to be someone other than how they’ve been marketed. Swift has recognized that from the start and encourages an open channel of dialogue and sharing with her fans. To outsiders it might look like another type of marketing campaign. Yet, how many artists can you name that invite fans over to their houses around the country for advance listening parties of their new album? (Zhao, 2014)

Swift’s social media platforms of choice are Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram to connect with her fans. She follows her followers back, she stalks them to a certain degree and actually open declares her “stalkery” on social media and in interviews. “I cyber-stalk because I care.” (Weber, 2014).

Swift wants to get to know her fans, studies them, tries to decode and understand what they like, what they don’t, and what they are looking for from an artist.

The strategy of connecting with fans on a social and emotional level is one that other artists have been trying to achieve, but none of their efforts have come off as authentic or executed as consistently as Taylor Swift. Swift has somehow achieved a simple and focused voice and image that isn’t an ARTPOP mess of eclecticism. Taylor Swift is aiming for universal appeal as that tried and true girl-next-door for the poor, middle-class, and rich girls. Adults even like her because she seems squeaky clean, a good role model, and wise beyond her years.

What’s hard for some critics and haters to believe is that Taylor Swift is not an act. Taylor Swift really is the young woman we see in magazines, on stage, on TV, and online. Yes it’s true that the relationship between an entertainer and their audience is more crucial than ever for album sales and career longevity, but if it’s not real then the Taylor Swift strategy won’t last and won’t work for you. Taylor Swift is into everything her audience is into because she is the age of her audience, she is not out of touch with her audience because she maintains a real connection with her fans, that’s real and not a put-on.

The great triumph of this new digital age is that it is getting easier to spot fakery but it is harder to figure out the keys to success. For Taylor Swift the keys to success have been being true to herself, being true to her fans, and always studying.


PFriddle2014. (2014, October 16). T-Swift Connecting with Millenials | Loyola Digital Advertising [로욜라 디지털 광고]. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://loyoladigitaladvertising.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/t-swift-connecting-with-millenials/

McKalin, V. (2014, November 8). Taylor Swift’s new album ‘1989’ went platinum with 1.287 million copies sold: Physical copies rule over digital : T-Lounge : Tech Times. Retrieved November 8, 2014, from http://www.techtimes.com/articles/19709/20141108/taylor-swifts-new-album-1989-went-platinum-with-1-287-million-copies-sold-physical-copies-rule-over-digital.htm

Christman, E., Caulfield, K. and Gruger, W. (2014, November 7). Roadmap to Taylor Swift’s Record-Breaking Week | Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2014, from http://www.billboard.com/articles/6312056/roadmap-taylor-swfit-record-breaking-week-6-steps?mobile_redirection=false

Zhao, H. (2014, October 5). Taylor Swift poses with fans as dad Scott leaps in for photobomb | Daily Mail Online. Retrieved November 8, 2014, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2781332/Taylor-Swift-poses-fans-album-listening-party-dad-Scott-leaps-photobomb.html

Weber, L. (2014, October 29). Taylor Swift, Queen of Celebrity Social-Media — Vulture. Retrieved November 8, 2014, from http://www.vulture.com/2014/10/taylor-swift-queen-of-celebrity-social-media.html

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Taylor Swift is one of the hardest working artists right now.

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  1. For further reading on the subject: Chris Molanphy (Slate) [http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/11/taylor_swift_s_1989_sales_top_1_million_copies_here_s_what_that_says_about.single.html] and Michael Barthel [http://barthel.tumblr.com/post/102008261253/how-many-copies-of-1989-would-taylor-swift-have].


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