Taylor Swift knows her audience.
Just look at her power: Yesterday Apple agreed with her Tumblr post that artists need to be paid when streaming music during the three-month free trial of their new music service, Apple Music.
Now you may not be Taylor Swift, but there’s tons to learn from her about how to create effective content.
- Build stories: Swift started her career in the country music scene—songs that are built on stories. From “Love Story”, which paints a story of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, to her current hit, “Style” in which she sings, “Midnight, pick me up, no headlights,” Taylor understands how to paint a scene in bold brushstrokes. She creates vivid settings that draw in her listeners. Make descriptions work for you when you write your content by remembering to:
- Set a scene
- Have a clear beginning, middle and end
- Create tension so there’s a resolution by the end of the story
- Know who you are: When Taylor was getting ready to drop 1989, her label’s CEO listened to it and begged her, “Just put one country track on it.” She refused, telling him this was her pop album. 1989 moved 1.287 million copies in its first week, immediately going platinum, almost unheard of in today’s age of the digital download single. If you’re trying to move the needle on your brand, move it forward from a position of strength. Wishy washy doesn’t work in this competitive content marketplace.
- Cater to your audience: My tween girls follow Taylor Swift’s Instagram (ok, I do, too), and she knows what her fans care about. From pictures of her way cool friends hanging out, to silly videos of her cats, to pictures of her performing at concerts, to showing her spending time with family, she’s just Tay to them. With 34.7 million followers, she’s doing something right.
- Have a sense of humor about yourself: In “Blank Space,” Swift sings, “Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane, But I gotta a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name.” Known for her breakup inspired ballads and short-lived in the public eye celebrity relationships, Swift laughs at herself, pointing out that if she controls the conversation, she can change it.
- Make your ask specific: When Taylor addressed Apple Music in her Tumblr post, she made it very clear she was unhappy with one specific decision they made to withhold royalties in that first free three-month trial period. She also praised Apple at least three times, to make it clear she was only criticizing the global giant and her major music distribution partner for that decision. By being specific in the ask to change this policy, Taylor made the politics of public coercion look graceful. If you’re asking your audience to do something be specific about it. It will payoff in the long run.
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