As a college student, I often find myself struggling to find the balance between personal postings and career content on social media. On one hand, I’m very focused on making sure my instagram and twitter accounts that I’ve held for around nine years are attractive to employers. On the other hand, I want my grandma to see that I’m having fun and see all the important personal moments in my life. I think that struggle is one that many young adults have, and on a much grander scale it’s something that influencers and celebrities also have to deal with. Where is the line between the person and the brand?
In my opinion, there is almost no one who strikes this balance quite as well as Taylor Swift (can you tell I’m a fan?). On the outside her accounts seem very impersonal. Her instagram has 153 million followers but she follows no one. She has comments turned off on all her posts so not even fans can reply. Yet somehow she has managed to create a thriving fan community online. There are two big components of this, the first one being
Although Taylor has her comments turned off, she interacts with fans through a practice that has been dubbed as “taylurking”. She often peruses the art and postings of her fans and interacts with them on their own accounts and profiles. Swift also uses social media as a way to forge relationships with her fans, and she has even been known to send Christmas gifts and give meet and greet tickets to fans that she meets over social media. By reaching out and showing her fan base that she is paying attention to what they make, Swift has created a fandom that is constantly creating and interacting with one another.
In recent years, Taylor Swift also made headlines for voicing her political opinions on social media. In 2018 she supported democrats in the Tennessee senate elections, and in 2020 she baked cookies for Biden and shared photos to her instagram encouraging her fans to vote.
However this decision was not one that Swift came to lightly. In her documentary Miss Americana on Netflix, fans saw an inside look at the difficulties of being personal and being a public figure online.
As much as Swift is an individual presence online, she still has to use her platforms for the Taylor Swift brand, which brings me to the second component of her success,
Instead of just announcing when her music is going to drop, Swift drops easter eggs throughout her projects. She will often tweet using thirteen words, a certain number of punctuation marks, or even create decoding videos like this one used to promote the re-release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”.
These hints and mysterious release culture have led many people to create their own accounts and videos dedicated entirely to decoding Taylor Swift’s social media. This helps get the word out and create buzz around her new music, but it also keeps the fans interested and guessing as they anticipate releases. Steven Sully is one such creator who has gained thousands of followers on Tik Tok as he tries to decode Swift’s social media.
Swift’s interesting promotional content and the fan culture she has created surrounding social media make Swift one of the best examples of a personal and professional online figure. And with that, I promise I will wait at least until her next album before I blog about Taylor Swift again………….