At 11:00am on the 18th August 2017, that's exactly what happened with the accounts of arguably one of the most prominent popstars to use social media. All, and I mean all traces of content posted by Taylor Swift on her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and even on her official website since 2015 simply disappeared. Today, almost five days later, there is still no explanation from the star herself, which has prompted many to speculate whether her accounts have been hacked, whether this has something to do with her recent lawsuit or whether she's making some kind of statement about using social media. But let's not forget that she has done similar things before, blanking and then revamping her online branding across all channels for the release of previous albums.
Many of her fans are actively documenting their own meltdowns over the situation on various sites and the media is having an absolute field day speculating, sharing ever wilder theories about what is going on, even reaching out to her record company and management, who are remaining silent about the whole thing. Personally, I think it's pretty safe to say that the absence of any comment from them or Taylor Swift herself, is currently generating far more interest and online buzz than any content or post she's ever shared on her channels. Don't quote me on that, as I don't have any figures to back that up, but there is definitely an unprecedented amount of attention for someone who simply isn't there anymore.
A quick Google search confirms that pretty much every major news outlet has picked up the story, as have the entertainment channels and the fan forums. Social media is buzzing with chat and conspiracy theories without Taylor or her people having to actually do anything. Which got me thinking, we all know the old adage of 'absence makes the heart grow fonder', but is the ultimate accolade for anyone building a social media presence the fact that you're missed when you're not there? That you are so engaged with your audience that they practically hang on every post? That they're actually sat waiting to hear from you and become worried when they don't?
You see, I think that we focus so heavily on building up a presence that we often forget how to provide a service when we've got one. That we're so intent in following advice and learning the latest tips and tricks to grow our audience that the content we provide doesn't resonate with them. I've been working with some potential clients over the last week who have absolutely massive followings, and I do mean massive. We're talking about tens of millions of followers, but from my early glances at their accounts I can see that there is very little interaction or engagement from their audience. Which begs the question, what are they doing wrong?
There can of course be many different reasons, but when I think of the possibilities alongside what Taylor Swift has achieved, it becomes increasingly clear what they haven't been doing. Firstly, Taylor is focused on channels where she knows the people who buy her records are most heavily concentrated. I mentioned in a blog last week how she's mastered Tumblr because of the age demographic that she wants to reach. Secondly, what she puts out is a consistent tone of voice in her singles, albums and posts which is easily relatable to those same people. It resonates, it's familiar and feels like she's talking to them directly. Which is exactly what they want. She's effectively built relationships with almost every single one of her fans. So much so, that when she's not there or she's a little quiet online, people actually miss it enough to say something about it.
So whether Taylor Swift has gone for a complete blackout in advance of announcing a new album, a new tour or an appearance at this year's VMA awards, what she and her people have actually done is create a vacuum which the media and her fans have rushed to fill with speculation. There's a lot we can learn from this approach for our own brands and businesses, which may well form the basis of another blog post at a later date. But in the meantime, I'm interested to see how this strategy pans out and am already thinking about how this theory can be used with my own clients. Can you imagine getting your own brand or business to the same point? Perhaps it's something we should all aspire to? Making our absence, rather than our presence, felt online.