A Social Media Love Story

I have always been a big fan of Taylor Swift, so I have therefore decided to examine her presence on social media sites. Taylor is present on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and her blog called Taylor Connect, which is the ultimate fan experience, providing fans with many ways to interact and stay connected with her. Although she is involved with many social network sites, I would first like to discuss Taylor Swift’s Facebook profile. She currently has 35,100,499 fans on Facebook (as of October 23, 2012), and she is most popular among the 18-24 year old demographic; in addition, she is most popular among residents in Bangkok, Thailand. Let’s first talk about Taylor’s “about me” section on her Facebook profile. Directly under the “about me,” she has written RED. October 22.  Someone who is not a Taylor fan may not know what this is referring to, but as a devoted Swift fan, I am well aware that she is referring to her new album, RED which was released on October 22. This is the first thing listed on her “about” page showing first how important this album is to her, and secondly showing that she is self-promoting herself and her music. Directly following this promotion, she starts to show an authentic side by introducing herself and sharing fun and personal information about herself such as her favorite characters on TV (Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy), her love for antique stores, and about her hometown and life growing up. By providing fans with such a personal profile, her profile is very much aligned with Liu’s authentic taste statement, because she is not pretending to be anybody else besides herself. Liu explains that “authenticity is associated with a relaxed style and the display of slight imperfection”. Taylor’s writing is very personal and feels genuine, just how she is portrayed in the media and in an offline environment. Taylor wants her page to be as close to an authentic representation of herself as she can make possible through her language, and the information provided about her. Although Taylor is known for her humbleness and modesty, and any fan would know this from watching her infamous reactions of shock and awe every time she wins an award,  I find it a little bit strident in the way in which she promotes herself, brand, and music through these social media platforms.

Her Facebook page streams posts of promotions for her new album, her merchandise, her perfume, her new keds line, her television appearances, and magazine covers.

These posts are not only addressing her fans as consumers of her products, but she is objectifying herself as a product to be consumed as well. This idea is very much in line with Marwick’s article, “I’m More Than Just a Friendster Profile: Identity, Authenticity, and Power in Social Networking Services,” because Marwick views social media sites as forcing individuals to be consumers, and she says that “generally, the user is portrayed not as a citizen, but as a consumer” (9).

This idea of Taylor viewing her fans as consumers is a little problematic for me to accept, because through observing how Taylor presents herself in television interviews, and through reading articles about her in magazines and newspapers, Taylor has always been portrayed as a humble and unassuming individual. She is rarely seen as pushing her own products and herself onto her fans, but rather sees her fans as willingly wanting to consume her brand. In a way, even though her “about me” page seems genuinely authentic, her social media presence on Twitter, and Facebook seem to convey a bit of a theatrical persona. Taylor’s online presence and the way she seems to come across is primarily as a commodity, while her offline self, as seen on television, in interviews, and even at her concerts appears to be just a normal girl just like me and you.

Marwick and Boyd introduce the idea of context collapse and explain that “we present ourselves differently based on who we are talking to, and where the conversation takes place–the same goes for socializing online” (1) Taylor does just this. She seems to be using Facebook for either new fans, or less serious and diehard fans because once again in her “about me” page, she introduces herself, and provides readers with information that serious Taylor Swift fans would already know, but less strict fans may not know yet. She also uses Facebook for more formal business such as promoting her music, merchandise, and brand, while she uses Twitter and Instagram in a more intimate and personal setting. Her twitter account is much more personal as she talks less about her products and herself as a commodity, and rather shares pictures of her cat, comments her dad has made, and funny things that happen to her during the day.

She uses Twitter as a means to communicate closely with her diehard fans, while Facebook seems to be a platform used for new or less attached fans. Similar to what a lot of us do, we use different mediums for different purposes and to reach out and send separate messages to audiences on different platforms.

I think no matter what social media platform Taylor Swift uses, she still maintains her clean and innocent persona. She is a girl who is fascinated by love and lives a superstar’s life without all the Hollywood scandals and drama. Unless you consider her rumored “Kennedy wedding crashing” situation a celebrity mishap.

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One comment

  1. I like that there’s a distinction between how Taylor uses different social media platforms — in a way, it defines what each site is being used for nowadays by celebrities. As you said, Facebook is very much (for celebrities) more formal/business than Twitter, which invites more invested fans to learn more about the everyday going ons of their favorite celebrity’s life. Similarly to how I wrote about Adam Levine, I can see that Taylor does maintain a cohesive image both online and offline: she is that sweet, innocent, girl who writes songs in her room and still gets bashful when complimented. I wonder, though, given the different nature of her Facebook if that is more heavily managed by a third party while Twitter & her blog are more directly from her.

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