Admit it. You love Taylor Swift. You didn’t use to, but you kind of do now. Or even if you refuse to call yourself a Swiftie, you still secretly follow her on Instagram. And sometimes in the shower you dance to “Shake It Off” and let it all out.
That’s okay. Because what’s not to love about Tay Sway AKA T-Swizzle AKA Beautiful Soul? It’s not just because she’s super famous and writes catchy hooks, or because her album 1989 was the biggest album of 2014, or because she’s best friends with Jay-Z and Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.
It’s also because Taylor Swift, of all people, sets a great example of how brands and companies can manage their reputation and engage effectively with customers.
I’m serious. If Taylor Swift wasn’t a guitar-wielding singer-songwriter from Nashville, she may well succeed as a reputation manager or customer experience guru. Here are some practical lessons organizations can learn from Tay:
Up Your Thank You Game
So let’s say you get an amazing five-star Yelp review. Or rise to the top of the TripAdvisor rankings in your area. (Woo-hoo! High-five.) Do what Taylor would do. Respond to your reviews, social media comments, and customer feedback. Say thank you to whoever took the time to write something nice about you or clicked an extra button to push you to the top.
T-Swizzle kicks butt in the Thank You game. She doesn’t just follow back or heart her fans’ posts; she actually goes out of her way to wrap Christmas gifts that she then personally delivers to their doorstep. And she comments on her fans’ Instagram photos.
Taylor is basically BFFs with all the Swifties. She runs her own account, too, and pens the responses herself – not her reps or publicists or agency.
If your organization adopts a similarly responsive approach, customers will love you and stay loyal to you. So make it your personal business to engage. Write directly to your customers. And don’t just talk about your album, or your special menu, or your exciting new promo. Talk about their experiences. Be the biggest fan of your biggest fans.
Shake It Off
A critical blog post, a negative online review, or a low NPS score that’s below the industry standard can feel like a punch in the gut. So imagine what it feels like to accept an award… then have Kanye West get on stage, interrupt your speech, and say someone else deserves it more. All this on TV, while the whole world is watching. Ouch, right?
That’s what happened to poor Taylor at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. (How dare Ye.)
But being a Beautiful Soul, without an ounce of hatred in her heart, Taylor decided to just shake shake shake it off. She bit her tongue. No hard feelings. Accepted his personal apology and didn’t make a bigger deal of it.
Seven Grammys and 27 million sold albums later, Taylor stands as one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.
That’s why it’s not always easy to empathize with business owners or managers who totally lose it and post crazy responses to negative reviews, accomplishing nothing except fan the flames. Even if it’s cringe-worthy, out-of-line, and below-the-belt, a bad review is just someone else’s opinion. It doesn’t define you. You can’t let it define you. The way you handle and respond to customer feedback is far more important.
Look at Tay-Tay. She was gracious, polite, professional. Then she shook it off and continued being awesome. That’s exactly how brands should manage everything not-so-nice being said by online critics. The next time someone says your business sucks and isn’t as good as the competitive offerings, ask yourself: WWTSD? (That’s “What would Taylor Swift do?” by the way. Not Tony Soprano.)
Taylor Swift runs her Instagram like a boss. There’s some promotional stuff here and there: tour posters, screenshots of reviews of her music, magazine covers, iTunes charts (which she dominates), stylish studio shots.
But the rest is less about Taylor Swift the product and more about Taylor Swift the person. She shares photos of things like fan mail, cute cats, babies, cupcakes, frothy latte, memes, chill times with Lorde and Haim and the rest of Team Taylor, plus awkward school photos and selfies so silly you’d think she was ordinary and real instead of perfect and heaven-sent.
Why does this work? Because people love photos. (Did you know that Yelpers spend 2.5 times more time on a business page with photos than on a page without?)
So go ahead. Post mouth-watering shots of your cheesy, saucy, crusty pepperoni pizza, or a #nofilter pic of the shiny SUV your dealership recently launched.
But make it about the team, too. On sites where you have presence – Instagram, Facebook, Google, Yelp, Foursquare – scatter eleventeen photos of the chef who makes that pizza, or a wacky group shot of your happy employees on a summery day. Post pictures of your mascots, your company events, your volunteering activities in the local community, your behind-the-scenes goings-on. In between, you can share inspiring quotes, memes, even screenshots of your latest five-star review or a candid moment from your patron’s Friday visit. And kittens. Remember: a picture paints a thousand words, and you can follow Taylor’s example in using imagery to showcase your brand’s winning personality.
Keeping It Real
Taylor Swift could probably buy a private jet so she can spend the weekend getting a tan and being anonymous at some random undiscovered island in the Philippines. But fame hasn’t gotten to her. We’re talking about someone who bakes cookies for fun and plays with kittens, and whose cat is named Olivia Benson. She also likes shopping for lettuce at Whole Foods. (Okay, so maybe you’re more about the Trader Joe’s life, but still.)
Basically, T-Swizzle keeps it real. No shenanigans. Authenticity works great for her image, and it will certainly work for yours. If you’re still using mindless amounts of corporate jargon when talking to your customers, stop right now. If you have one- or two-star reviews appearing in search results, don’t fake your way out or game the system by bribing customers or creating fake reviews. Be real. At a time when consumers value authenticity over perfection, realness is sexy and makes you irresistible to whoever’s watching.
Still reading? You’re awesome. Call us if Kanye West or a bad review rains on your parade and you need help. Or if, you know, you want to sign up for a free trial of the award-winning ReviewTrackers reputation management software platform.
P.S.: Taylor Swift loves you. You’re beautiful inside and out.