What You Can Learn From Taylor Swift’s New Album Instagram Teaser Campaign

October 23rd, 2014

badge-image-of-the-weekPretend for a moment that you’re Taylor Swift, a megastar with a highly anticipated new album.

You have more than your fair share of opportunities to generate buzz and publicity for your new album.

Life is good, right?

For most celebrities, yes. But, not Taylor Swift. If you’re Taylor Swift you’ve got to go beyond publicity and innovate in a way that speaks directly to your top advocates – your fans!

Which is precisely why Swift has turned to Instagram to tell the story of her upcoming 1989 album in a clever way – a 13-day visual countdown.

Swift launched the countdown on October 14 with the promise of revealing one set of lyrics per album track daily, each in a unique image with some level of personalization, either to the song, or where Swift is at the moment (e.g. in a plane, on an elevator). Each image is also in her handwriting and some also include doodles, offering another personal touch.

Track 1 #1989lyrics

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Look closely at the images and the engagement stats are crazy impressive. The first post netted over 535,000 likes at press time and the remainder range from 360,000 to over 600,000 which seems on par, if not above average for the star’s Instagram posts. The posts are also being shared on Twitter, where considerable engagement is being generated as well.

Track 11 #1989lyrics

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

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

Make It Special

Whether you opt for a teaser or countdown, make sure the announcement warrants the special attention. Not every product launch or initiative warrants a teaser, nor do consumers want to see you take the same formulaic approach for every announcement. You almost run the risk of “crying wolf” if you tease a big announcement and it’s not all that special to your consumers.

The best strategy is to map out your year and understand which initiatives deserve above and beyond support. Align this with insights from your social media communities on their top wishes and questions to aid in your decision making.

Teaser vs. Countdown?

While Taylor Swift’s campaign was a mix of both, you’ll see many companies picking a course of action depending on the company’s overall strategy for the announcement, marketing campaign objectives and anticipated excitement from your customers. For a teaser, you’ll typically see one to two teaser posts that are clever yet coy without spilling the beans before the big reveal. Others may opt for a countdown when there’s more to communicate. This involves a big reveal followed by a series of engaging content that drives buzz and reminds fans that a new product is coming, or event is happening, etc.

Set An Established Timeline

Regardless of which approach your select, it is critical to ensure that all external communications (e.g. PR, marketing, web, customer care) are aligned on the same announcement timeline and flow. If the information is really juicy and has the potential to leak sooner, develop contingency plans should you need to make the big reveal early.

Embrace Visual Storytelling

It would have been easy for Taylor Swift to reveal the lyrics from her upcoming album as text on Facebook or Twitter, but the combination of song lyrics and visuals strikes the right chord. Compiled together, they form a visual story that generates fan excitement around the new songs while showcasing her passion for using social media to connect directly with her fans.

The visuals also allow her fans to share the images with the text intact and in the way the singer intended them to be seen.

The Best Marketing Is Personal

From the handwritten lyrics to imagery that feels in line with Swift’s lifestyle, her album promotion effort feels deeply personal and authentic and not at all like marketing. We as marketers can take a page from Taylor Swift’s playbook. Social media was intended as a channel where people can come together and share experiences and stories.

Next time you’re tempted to go straight for the sell, take a step back and think through how you can make the communication more human and personable. Your consumers will thank you.

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