Taylor Swift Using Social Media to Diminish Her Celebrity Identity

In my writing intensive course that is required for my communications major, I had to choose a musician to analyze for my final paper. Naturally, I chose arguably one of the most successful artists of all time, none other than Miss Taylor Swift. But why is Taylor so successful? Don’t get me wrong, I am a hardcore Swiftie, but I can even admit she is not the most talented singer in the business. In my opinion, one of the keys to her success has been her social media presence. I decided to extend my research from my other class in order to compose it into a blog post, analyzing the ways Taylor has made social media work for her,and ultimately bolster her career. However, analyzing a celebrities social media usage was not entirely my idea and I do not want to cause any Bad Blood, so I admit, I loved Matthew Pierce’s blogpost about Tom Brady and credit him as my inspiration for this blog. I follow Taylor on Instagram and Twitter and have liked her page on Facebook (still waiting for her to make a snapchat…c’mon girl). Through her social handles, I have observed various social media habits and noticed the following ways in which she wins the social media game:

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  1. The Taylor Swift Brand

It is extremely rare for celebrity’s to even stand behind their own social media profiles. Most of them hire people to post for them or have their own social media team that displays their “brand” effectively. Taylor on the other hand isn’t branding “Taylor Swift” but actually is just being her natural, goofy self. Clearly this tactic has worked for her. She has 65.8 million Twitter followers, 73 million Facebook likes, and with 54.4 million Instagram followers tops the chart for the highest followed female. Taylor can most often be found posting pictures of her cats Meredith and Olivia, funny animal videos, teaser videos of upcoming music, music videos, or photos alongside her infamous squad. Aside from the teasers of upcoming music, this is content that can be found on most social media profiles of women in their low twenties. She appears extremely relatable and diminishes the concept of othering by making herself appear to be an average person, just like her fans. One would think scrolling through their newsfeed it is just another picture that a friend posts, until you see that this friend has bout 2 million likes. With posts like these, I can’t see how the “Taylor Swift” brand will ever go out of style!IMG_5987

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2. Interacting directly with fans.

Since Taylor is a worldwide phenomenon, it is impossible for her to physically meet and interact with all of her fans. In order to attempt to change this, she uses social media as a tool to keep in touch and check in with as many fans as she can. She admits that she is constantly looking at the internet, reading what her fans are saying to her, watching youtube video covers of her songs, and even scrolling through her fans tumblr pages. She even responded to our very own Boston College video featuring her song “Shake It Off.”

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She also responds to her fans with pure excitement and empathy, making it seem natural that she is commenting on anyone’s photos or videos, just like any of one’s other friends would. She even has her own hashtag for this activity she calls #TayLurking, where she lets her fans know that none of their content is safe, their Wildest Dreams may come true and Taylor herself, just might see it.

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Taylor wishes her fans happy birthday (I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22), provides advice to those she sees having a hard time, compliments them, and even makes fun of herself along the way. If someone who lived under a rock analyzed Taylor’s social media activity without knowing who she was, I’m not sure they would expect her to be a celebrity at all.

3. She clears up rumors.

As everyone probably knows, Taylor is talked about in the media quite a lot. Some of this talk however, is far from true. Many celebrities will choose not to get involved, will often even not check online media sites because they do not want to know what is being said about them whether it be presented in a positive or negative manor. Taylor on the other hand, is up on her facts and will be the first to clear up a false rumor and laugh it off on social media. She doesn’t let her haters hate, she simply shakes it off. They way she sees it, if the media are talking about her, she will give them something else to talk about by clearing up the story. For example, earlier this year, rumors began to fly that after her infamous 1989 World Tour, Taylor would be buying a castle in Europe and moving their with her current boyfriend Calvin Harris, talk about a love story! Taylor decided not to let this one slide and cleared it up in true Taylor fashion, using one of her lyrics to add humor to a serious, targeted tweet.
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4. Promotion

As much as Swiftie’s may like to believe that all of this kind social media behavior comes from the bottom of her heart, she is also an incredibly intelligent business women. Yes, Taylor does her fair share of her promotion for upcoming albums, tours, music videos, etc. However, she is also letting the fans do the work for her. With her millions of followers tweeting and instagramming lyrics from her songs and photos from her concerts, that gets her recognized by even more people. Some may even join in the movement and become a fan for themselves. If anything, she tweets or Instagrams about something she has coming up that she is excited about, and doesn’t hold back this excitement by any means. This could be compared to someone tweeting, “I just got accepted into my top choice university, this is surreal and dreamlike.” We have all seen posts like this on our feeds everyday. It is not everyday however that we see celebrities talking about their life as “dreamlike” and acting so genuinely excited about life as Taylor does. Here, we see Taylor tweet ecstatically about a re-release of her 1989 album by Ryan Adams and her reaction to her “Wildest Dreams” music video premiering.

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If anyone ever finds themselves in a position where they need an influencer to gain advice on how to build up your online social media presence, fill that blank space with @TaylorSwift’s name and take notes. Taylor has an amazing way of covering up this celebrity identity she has established, by creating a presence on social media as your typical twenty-year-old girl. She knows her fan-base and more importantly her target market remarkably well. She understands it is more important to appear to her followers as one of their friends rather than another verified blue check mark user that they follow. Taylor Swift’s social media strategy is beyond Fearless.

7 comments

  1. Great post! First of all, really appreciate the shoutout here. Those are hard to come by in this day in age. This is a very thorough breakdown of a celebrity’s social media use that I was previous unfamiliar with. You did a nice job right off the bat of making the distinction between conscious branding and genuine and unconscious social media use. In putting it upon her shoulders to control her own social media use, Taylor is consequently establishing an admirable brand for herself. Hence, the image is built organically from her natural flow of content, rather than constructed strategically. I also think the fact that she is constantly paying attention to the social sphere, as well as what is being said about her within it, contributes to her success. With this knowledge, she is able to understand things such as what her fans are interested in, what is being talked about, what they want to hear more of, and what news is worth clarifying. One question I have is whether or not you noticed a difference in the content in regards to the specific social media outlet utilized?

  2. I think this is a really insightful post! When I think of celebrities on Instagram I immediately think of the Kardashians. As much as I hate to admit it, I do follow them and the pictures they post are obviously staged and often promote certain brands. No doubt they have multiple screening processes before they post anything. It is incredibly refreshing to see Taylor Swift manage her own accounts and have them be a genuine way to connect with her fans, rather than promote herself and other products for a profit. I think going forward, this will become more of a trend. As celebrities and other influencers view Instagram and twitter as means to build up a relationship with their followers rather than solely a means to further their personal brand.

  3. Loved your post! I am a super Taylor Swift fan and I admire how she is able to create close relationships with her fans by using social media. Many celebrities could learn from her one or two things about it since I believe she is truly a star when it comes to managing her platforms.

  4. Love this post– really thorough breakdown. I feel like the “relatable” aspect you talk about here is a direct reflection of why her songs are so successful, they resonate with her audience on a personal level. Instead of an untouchable celebrity, she becomes more of a role model and someone who helps her fans express their emotions. The young girl who reached out to Taylor about being bullied is an example of someone who looks to her music for this reason, and Taylor’s social media response compounds the impression of her being there for her.

    In her music videos (i.e. shake it off) Taylor doesn’t try to be someone she’s not, embracing her goofiness and slight lack of coordination. As we have discussed in many posts, authenticity is at work here. She can get 2m likes on a picture of her cat because people like her personality, not just glamorous or exciting pictures.

  5. Great post! I appreciated your clever use of Taylor Swift song titles throughout the post. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Taylor on her Fearless tour and she was super genuine and thoughtful. If I hadn’t met her, I would probably be concerned that her image is fake, but I do believe she is actually as kind and sweet as she appears on social media. She’s been able to use her fame for good, by responding to bullied students or by making the dreams of her followers come true.

    Personally, I think Taylor’s best social media move was Swiftmas. She sent out packages to special Tumblr followers with handwritten notes attached. She uploaded videos of herself making the packages and the Swiftmas recipients did, too. It was a heartwarming way to affect the lives of 32 Tumblr followers but also to maintain her sweetheart image. Although I don’t think it was a publicity stunt, it certainly doesn’t hurt her reputation.

  6. Nice post. I’ve been following TSwifts social media efforts for many years (mainly thanks to students like you writing about them). She really does a good job with using SM to support her career and interact with fans.

  7. I have to agree that Taylor Swift is a social media superstar. Its crazy the amount of likes she gets on SM. She routinely gets 1 million plus likes on her posts. I think you did a really good job of analyzing Taylor’s social strategy. Its definitely a mix of calculating business woman and genuine personal posts. She’s certainly not afraid to make fun of herself like with her posts with her cats. That and her outreach to fans really make her seem like a normal, down to earth person. Other celebrities could learn from her example. Nice post and good job mixing in all the TSwift lyrics!

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