Brands keep glomming onto Taylor Swift, with mixed results

Is it a good move?

Social media managers love Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is inescapable.

Her music dominates the airwaves. Her record-breaking “Eras” tour is boosting the economies of entire regions. She’s even taking over football now with a rumored romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce that saw her in attendance at Arrowhead Stadium.

Brands are taking notice of her cultural hegemony too.

Everywhere you turn on social media just now, you can find companies jumping as hard as they can onto the Swiftie bandwagon.

Some are natural extensions, like the NFL making hay after her appearance at Sunday’s game — even going so far as to briefly change their header image and bio on Twitter.



Many of the posts have garnered high engagement (one gif of her yelling what lip-reading indicates is a profanity has more than 11 million views) — but that doesn’t mean they’re without backlash.


A screenshot from the NFL's Instagram

There’s also a certain thirstiness to the NFL’s new obsession, as Swift reportedly turned down this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Now, there’s a certain logic to the NFL’s posting. Swift was at an NFL game. It was news. They’d be foolish not to do something about it — though the Kansas City Chiefs have notably been much more low-key about their new famous fan.

But other brands are making more of a stretch to join the hype train.

Hidden Valley Ranch, for instance, has tweeted about Taylor Swift six times in the last 24 hours — with mostly high engagement. They used a variety of tactics, including a photo that “seemingly” shows Swift eating ranch with wings as well as a joke combining the Swift craze and the Roman Empire meme.

Heinz is even launching a condiment based on the “seemingly” tweet, which has become a meme in its own right. Madness.

But other brands without even that tenuous connection are getting in on the Swift action. Take this series of shareable memes from Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, including one that touts their yogurt shops in Kansas (Kansas City is, confusingly, in Missouri).

Why is this happening?

There are two major explanations for why TayTay is everywhere.

The first is the simplest: as we noted in the intro, she’s one of the most popular humans on planet Earth right now. Everyone wants to take a bit of that shine for themselves. She’s a celebrity and a meme and a soundtrack. There are a million angles brands can take, from quoting song lyrics to using photos and memes. The odds are good you can find a connection, even if it’s a stretch.

But there’s another factor likely at play too: the people who manage social media accounts for a living tend to fall directly into the Taylor Swift demographic.

They’re fans themselves.

Using a database of more than 30 million job profiles, Zippia estimates that 61% of social media managers are women, with an average age of 39. That puts them squarely in the Millennial age range that loves Swift the most. It’s content they can get personally excited about — and want to share.

Should your brand go full Swiftie?

The answer to this is, as always, dependent on your audience and your goals.

The strategy seems to be working well for brands like Hidden Valley, which are seeing high engagement. The NFL is seeing some backlash, but also solid engagement. But remember, engagement (good or bad) is not the only way of measuring success: Brands like the NFL need to be aware of oversaturation and straying too far from the reason people follow them in the first place. Swift is popular, yes, but she isn’t the only thing going on in the world. You can run a joke into the ground and annoy even ardent Swift fans.

As always, understand why you’re posting on social media and what you hope to achieve. Does Swiftposting feed into your business goals? Then proceed, monitoring results carefully. Is it too far from your target audience or too divorced from what you hope to achieve? Then it may be better to stay on the bleachers instead.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


One Response to “Brands keep glomming onto Taylor Swift, with mixed results”

    Katherine Williams says:

    This post is timely and insightful. I know all PR professionals wondered why every brand is suddenly in on the Taylor Swift craze and it only makes sense the social media managers are fans themselves! I also love that you mentioned how important it is to look at your audience and goals and make sure your posts align with them. – Katherine Williams, Platform Magazine writer/editor

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