6 Lessons from Taylor Swift's Supporter Engagement Strategy | cStreet Campaigns

6 Lessons from Taylor Swift's Supporter Engagement Strategy

If the Facebook algorithm isn’t showing you posts about Taylor Swift then you may be one of the people wandering around asking “Who is this ‘Tay’ person and why should I care?” The short answer is you don’t need to. The long answer is that she (or her outstanding PR company) is an innovator in digital media. Here are some things we can all learn from her:

1. Tailor (Taylor) your communications to previous interactions points

While on tour, Taylor bought gifts for her top bloggers and sent them to their houses with handwritten notes attached. You know, just cuz. 

This girl’s note talks about how Tay was on vacation and thought of her, SPECIFICALLY, omg omg omg!

When you’re sending out communications, it’s worth taking the time to tailor them to the person you’re reaching. We’re not talking just about your emails greetings (Dear First_name). Who are you reaching out to? What have they done for you in the past? What voice do you want to speak with. In NationBuilder, we like to see our clients set up a dozen different broadcasters, all with different voices. If you have twitter information for someone in your database, send them a specific twitter ask in an email; Why not make the ask 140 characters? If you’re using issue-based tags to segment your database, show people different homepage content based on their interests.

2. 90% of success is showing up

On tumblr, this gold went viral. Tay’s response?


There are 2 lessons here - one, Tay is on tumblr noticing things. The second lesson is that she responds in a language that makes sense to the original posters. The old mantra is that 90% of success is showing up. For many campaigns/organizations it’s difficult to get outside a comfort zone (read: Facebook and Twitter) but being where your audience is will help you see the opportunities for engagement. Catching a wave requires that you’re out there on your surfboard…. waiting for a wave.


Make sure to respond in the same language as your audience. You’ll get more attention replying to a situation online with something funny, smart, and clever than you will issuing a press release (although the “no its becky” press release would have been hilarious).

3. A friend is just a supporter you haven’t engaged yet

Taylor Swift’s friendships are legendary. Her instagram is full of pictures of her on a boat with Haim, Justin Timberlake at her birthday party wearing an animal, check out this gif of her mouthing “brunch” to Jay-Z:


So the legend goes that when kiwi adolescent savant Lorde put out her album, Tay liked it so much she sent flowers. When Diplo said Taylor didn’t have an ass, Lorde popped back with this NSFW tweet.

Supporters come and go, but friends are for life. Is your campaign/organization aware of who their friends are? Who will go to bat for you? Have you considered how to turn your supporters into friends? Here are a couple of tips: friendships are not one sided. You need to reciprocate. Don’t tweet or post only about your work, consider who else is in your network and make sure to push out their content or compliment their work. When your friends are in trouble, back them up. Check out our friends and clients at Rainforest Action Network showing their #KMface, backing their friends at Dogwood Initiative:


4. Reward is part of engagement

Imagine this - you get a secret DM on twitter from Taylor Swift’s official twitter page saying to be at a certain place at a certain time. When you get there you’re shuttled onto a bus and pull up outside a big house. You’re brought inside and gather in a beautiful living room. A persian kitten nuzzles your ankles while you wait in anticipation. Then, in walks Taylor Swift!!! WHAT?! She’s wearing pink lipstick, she’s smiling, she’s baked you cookies, she wants you to listen to her new album.


Recently a client was looking to do some online engagement. They’re an environmental organization that often has stands at farmers markets. We asked: “when people sign up at the farmer’s market what do they get.” The answer was, a tote bag and stickers. Our suggestion - why not give them the same thing if they sign up online? Maybe the barrier is lower so why not say if you sign up and then recruit a friend, you both get tote bags and stickers. Added bonus: you’ll also get their home addresses for direct mail. Engagement is reciprocal (see #3). When you write your calls to action or design your engagement strategies think about how you can reward your supporters (hint: it doesn’t need to be “stuff”).

5. Create powerful moments

There’s no sense to this story but that doesn’t matter: while walking in Central Park, 2 friends run into Taylor Swift of whom they are enormous fans. When they tell her they’re going to Chipotle, Tay hands them $90. Why? Well let’s put it this way: what makes a better Gawker headline: “Taylor Swift runs into fan in Central Park” or “Taylor Swift Hands a Girl $90 out of her Purse to go to Chipotle.”


The reality of this story is that the publicity she gained from this media moment would have been exceptionally expensive to purchase, way more than $90. The fan she handed the $90 dollars to had the story of a lifetime, and was excited to spread the gospel of Tay.

Think to your organization - are there times when you could have traded a bit of time or money for this kind of return? Did it require the same kind of out of the box thinking? Powerful moments are created through risk, sacrifice, and creating memorable moment for you supporters and Taylor Swift(‘s publicist) totally gets that.

6. Building a nation takes time and commitment

None of the things in this list are easy, and none of them are quick. Building a nation is hard and it takes time and dedication. If you want your supporters to be with you for the long haul you need to make constant investments in their engagement.

Now chill out and watch this:


originally published Friday, July 17, 2015