5 lessons from Taylor Swift’s Instagram campaign

Before releasing her newest album, the singer built buzz and publicity through an Instagram campaign that blended storytelling and visuals. Marketers, pay attention.

Pretend you’re Taylor Swift, a megastar with a highly anticipated new album. You have more than your share of opportunities to produce buzz and publicity.

Life is good, right?

For most celebrities yes, but not Taylor Swift. If you’re Swift, you have to go beyond publicity and speak directly to your top advocates—your fans.

That’s why Swift turned to Instagram to cleverly tell the story behind her new album, “1989,” which she released on Oct. 27. She launched a 13-day visual countdown.

Swift began the countdown on Oct. 14, promising to reveal one set of lyrics per track each day, along with an image related to the song or where Swift was at the moment (e.g. in a plane, on an elevator). Each image included her handwriting or some doodles, offering another personal touch.

Track 1 #1989lyrics

Uma foto publicada por Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) em Out 10, 2014 at 4:50 PDT

The engagement statistics are impressive. The first post netted more than 535,000 likes at press time, and likes for the other posts range from 360,000 to more than 600,000, which seems on par (if not above average) for the star’s Instagram posts. People are also sharing on Twitter, and sparking considerable engagement.

Track 11 #1989lyrics

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Oct 10, 2014 at 3:56pm PDT

What can you learn from a megastar’s Instagram teaser campaign?

1. Make it special.

Whether you opt for a teaser or countdown, make sure the announcement warrants the attention. You’ll risk crying wolf if you tease a big announcement but fail to deliver something that’s special to your consumers.

The best strategy is to map out your year, and determine which initiatives deserve unique support. Align this with insights from social media.

2. Decide whether you’ll use a teaser or countdown.

While Swift’s campaign was a mix of both, you’ll see many organizations pick one depending on their overall strategy, objectives and anticipated customer excitement.

For a teaser, you’ll typically see one to two posts that are clever and coy, but don’t spill the beans. A countdown involves a big reveal followed by a series of engaging content that drives buzz and reminds fans a new product or event is coming. You may opt for a countdown when you have more to communicate.

3. Set a timeline.

Regardless of which approach you select, ensure all external communications (PR, marketing, Web, customer care, etc.) are on the same timeline. If the information is really juicy and could leak, develop contingency plans should you need to reveal the news early.

4. Embrace visual storytelling.

It would have been easy for Swift to reveal the lyrics from her upcoming album as text on Facebook or Twitter, but the combination of lyrics and visuals strikes the right chord. Together they form a visual story that builds fan excitement while showcasing Swift’s passion for her fans. The visuals also allow fans to share the posts the way the singer intended people to see them.

5. Remember that the best marketing is personal.

From the handwritten lyrics to imagery in line with Swift’s lifestyle, her album promotion feels personal and authentic-not at all like marketing.

Marketers can take a page from Swift’s playbook. Social media is where people come together to share experiences and stories. The next time you’re tempted to go straight for the sell, consider how you can make the communication more personable. Your consumers will thank you.

Jessica Gioglio is a social media strategist and co-author of “The Power of Visual Storytelling.” A version of this article originally appeared on Convince & Convert.


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