Taylor Swift’s Wall Street Journal op-ed tells us something about content strategy

Written by Jen Chae, Digital Marketing Intern, Social@Ogilvy HK 

Taylor Swift Quote

From a social media marketer’s perspective, Taylor Swift’s recent opinion editorial on the Wall Street Journal is full of meat.

There’s a lot to digest here. The seven-time Grammy winner outwardly spills that it isn’t necessarily talent that ups album sales and brand loyalty, but rather strategic personal branding – something directly deliverable via social media.

And that, coming from someone who started out on MySpace, has 41.7 million followers on Twitter and 9.8 million on Instagram, sounds like credible advice to consider. The singer-songwriter predicts: “In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.” This just goes to show the tremendous amount of potential and influence of good social media content, in any given industry.

Here, I’ve translated some of Swift’s key points into content strategy tips:


Let your brand voice imply “we,” not “I”

Taylor Swift Mariah Carey
Can you see why and how T.Swift triples the amount oMariah Careys followers?

It’s no secret: Swift says she creates herself a relatable and uplifting reputation to hook her fans in.

They are buying only the ones [albums] that … made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone.”

Taylor Swift (seemingly) is not a diva; she isn’t trying to be your idol. She doesn’t put herself on a pedestal despite her popularity. Sometimes being a superstar entails putting aside your superstar persona – something for major brands to consider when looking to revamp their brand personality.


Keep long-term in mind

“The way I see it, fans view music the way they view their relationships.”

And by relationships, Swift refers to love stories. There is no better platform to build and maintain these kinds of “love stories” than social media. You can be personable, authentic and frequent-flowing.

Swift reveals bits and pieces of her personal life, wishes her fans well, asks questions and appears genuine – while maintaining a respectable image all at the same time. The purpose of this would be to “break through on an emotional level and end up in people’s lives forever.”


Infuse “Element of Surprise”

My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored …. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe.

Think of anything and everything fresh and fun that embodies newness –a new look, a new experience, a new purchase, new friends, slightly new attitude. Keeping fans informed is one thing, but keeping them entertained entails more – it requires a sort of spontaneity.

For Swift, this includes mild forms of contradictions. In a recent group photo on her Instagram, Swift’s friend is (for lack of a better description) sticking up her middle finger. I know I did a double take because that’s certainly not what I expected to see on T.Swift’s Instagram. What kind of effect do you think this has on her brand reputation?


Step outside the lines by blending lines together

“Another theme I see fading into the gray is genre distinction.”

Swift mentions she creates music that “reflects all of her influences,” not just one. In essence, she doesn’t want to be strictly labeled. She wants to appeal to more than one genre of audience, so she herself embodies several genres.

Same should go for branded content. Any given product can be inspired by multiple influences from various industries, so it shouldn’t be hard to come up with slightly off-topic yet still-relevant content. Of course, the main underlying theme should be established, but just because you’re a tech company, doesn’t mean you should be posting strictly about tech gadgets.

She attests: “stepping out of your comfort zone is rewarded.”

So we learned from a key influencer herself that social media content – alongside follower count – is now recognized more than ever.

As social media experts, we can expect that social agencies will not only be in demand with corporate branding, but personal branding as well.





Jen is a copywriting intern and aspiring content strategist. Her journalism background has built her strong criticism, which she’s constantly trying to transform into creativity.