How to work with influencers by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift Red Tour

Last weekend I was part of the crowd of 20,000 teenage girls seeingTaylor Swift at the O2. I realise I am no longer a teenage girl, but for a few hours I let my hair down and sang along to Love Story like the best of them.

In between the support act (The Vamps) and Taylor herself coming on, they played a video clip up on the big screens. The video talked about the launch of her RED Tour and the promotion around both the album and the tour itself.

Why did this interest you may ask? When did this blog become a review of teenage pop icons? Well actually, not only was I pleasantly surprised with the concert itself (believe it or not), I was also massively interested in the social media activities surrounding the tour and album promotion.

Of course there was the hashtagging before, during and after the concert – nothing new there – but what really interested me was the excellent use of influencer engagement. Before the launch of her RED album, Taylor Swift (or her record label) approached the 13 most active fans from around the world and invited them to follow her around in the run up to her album launch. Those who ‘followed’ her online could quite literally ‘follow’ Taylor Swift during her week long media tour. And the idea? These already very active followers would take to their social media profiles and document the media tour using #TaylorFollowers.

I think this is brilliant. A perfect example of online behaviour becoming part of our offline lives – bringing ‘following someone’ to reality (in a non creepy way). So why was this so great? Three key reasons:

  • Number 1: It rewarded fan loyalty. There’s nothing like proving to a fan that they are valued, and this does it in the best way possible for your typical Taylor Swift fan – put them in front of their idol, congratulate their loyalty and give them a platform on which to have a voice in something that they are very passionate about
  • Number 2: Inviting and encouraging user generated content gave an impression of organic promotion. We’ll always be more welcoming to something our peers have told us vs. a brand or company. Combine our peers with our favourite celebrity telling us something, then you have a very powerful promotion machine
  • Number 3: It increased the reach exponentially. Not only was it using the organic reach of the 13 chosen fans (cleverly chosen for that ┬ávery reason), it expanded it to a audience that may have previously had very little to do with Taylor swift. Me, for example

There’s no better way to promote a brand (and let’s face it, a successful celebrity is a brand) than through content created by those that rate the brand so much. It’s a classic case of authenticity and trust.

The concept of influence is hotly debated. I believe there is no one definition of influence; more an expression dependant on what you’ trying to achieve. Here Taylor Swift was trying to launch her latest album to the biggest audience possible; one that will be as receptive as possible. And the best way to do that? For her it was engaging her most loyal, socially active, influential fans.

And those are three key principles that could be applied to any brand, activity or indeed, celebrity. Whilst a brand not so exciting or head turning as Taylor Swift may not have the same size of fanbase or reach, there will always be influencers of opinion and those driving for something – be it promotion, change or just wanting to raise awareness. And it’s these people that are your most valuable assets. Get on their wrong side and you’re over; get on their right side, and the only way is up.