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Y’all Connect

What Writers and Bloggers Can Learn from Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift
Image by WEZL via Flickr/Creative Commons

I am not a fan of Taylor Swift’s music. At all.

But after yesterday’s Y’all Connect conference I am a fan of Swift’s marketing strategy and you should be too.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power, a blogging and social media conference all about digital storytelling.

One of my favorite sessions of the day was Mack Collier’s talk called “Think Like a Rock Star.” In this session Collier examined why businesses and brands only have customers while rock stars have fans.

The answer was simple: while businesses focus primarily on winning new customers, rock stars focus on rewarding their brand advocates, a.k.a their fans.

This seems counterintuitive. If you want your blog, book, or business to reach more people it seems the best thing to do would be to concentrate on seeking out new customers or readers. But what many of us don’t realize is that if we continue to excite and empower the people who already love our work, they will win new customers or readers for us. And they will be much more effective than we could ever be.

Think about it: are you more likely to purchase something because a salesperson said you should or because your best friend enthusiastically recommended it?

In his talk, Collier explained how Swift and other musicians cultivate an army of fans (who are advocates for their brand) by constantly devising amazing experiences for them. Swift, for example, has what she called a T-Party after her shows. During her concerts her team will scan the audience for the most enthusiastic fans — those having the most fun, screaming the loudest, and waving homemade signs.  Her team selects about two dozen of these special fans to join Swift and her crew backstage.

In 2010 Swift did an autograph signing in Nashville as part of the CMA Music Festival. She was going to sign autographs for 13 hours (13 is her favorite number) but when that time was up and there were still fans waiting, she kept going. Swift signed about 2,000 autographs for 15 hours that day, taking a break only to give a quick performance for the fans gathered.

By creating experiences like these, Collier said, Swift is communicating two very important messages to her fans: I appreciate you and I love you.

Here’s how you can communicate the same to the people who follow your work:

Be accessible. Interact with your readers and look for ways to have closer connections with them. Don’t spend all your time on your own blog. Visit their blogs or other sites that your readers love and leave comments. This will also give you a better idea of the kind of content your readers want.

Be relevant. Find the bigger idea behind the content you create. What problem does your writing solve for your readers? What void does it fill? Swift’s songs are so popular, Collier said, because they’re autobiographical and deal with issues many teen girls experience. They’re relatable and let those girls know they’re not alone.  You need to create content that raises awareness of ideas and news relevant to your niche. You need to be a teacher; everyone loves a good how-to post. And you need to create content that is inspiring.

Be humble.  While you need to think like a rock star, remember the spotlight should be on your fans, not you. Create content that focuses on and celebrates your readers. Get them involved by asking for feedback and suggestions. And remember to do something to make your fans feel special. Now that See Jane Write is becoming a membership organization, I plan to do this in part by planning events and extending offers and discounts that will be just for members and sponsors. If you’re an author you could do this by giving your fans early access to your new book or maybe you could have an intimate book signing and author chat with them.

The major takeaway is this: Your fans are the real rock stars.

For more on this topic, read Mack Collier’s book Think Like a Rock Star.

You can read more on my experience at the Y’all Connect conference Monday at SeeJaneWriteMagazine.com.