Home Internet What Swifties can teach CMOs about the internet

What Swifties can teach CMOs about the internet

Taylor Swift’s 11th album, The Tortured Poets Department, dropped last week, lighting up the internet as fans rushed to decode the latest work from their idol. 

Over the weekend, the discourse became all-consuming and research-heavy, as Swifties quickly unpacked the romantic history of their favorite pop star and The 1975 frontman Matty Healy, who many of the songs are rumored to be about. 

Last weekend’s internet takeover is reminiscent of what happens online when Swift does… basically anything, ever. Like in January, for example, when Swifties showed up in force to defend her after explicit AI-generated images of her circulated the internet.

More than Swift’s rabid fandom, the latter example demonstrates the importance of researching and understanding the inner workings of the internet and emerging tech — especially in the age of AI. When the AI-generated photos of Swift spread online, it shone a spotlight on the technology’s dark sides and the need to understand them better. 

As an optimist and advocate for innovation, it was tough to see AI used so egregiously. But, sitting around the dinner table with my tween-age Swiftie niece, we shared an optimistic conversation about the future of AI and the necessary checks and balances. 

While it’s easier than ever to manipulate at scale, the same flywheel played the other way by the Swifties themselves. In a matter of hours, Swift’s notoriously vocal, always-online fans intervened with such vigor that the offending images were filtered out of the feeds they appeared on. It was a deft and coordinated push rooted in her fans’ understanding of technology and algorithmic feeds. 

AI tools are unlocking output, creation and awareness at incredible new scales, but as it becomes more accessible and powerful, these issues will only increase.

I’m not shy in the face of change, so I’m with the Swifties here: In order to drive positive change, we must first understand the way new tools work — for both good and bad — then deploy them with a better strategy to win. 

Take a page out of the Swiftie playbook

Like Swifties, brands need to adapt to meet the challenges of AI head-on. They must implement faster decision making policies alongside faster content creation engines to compress the gap between insight and action.

CMOs need not only technological know how, but also clear corporate policies and strategies that allow teams to respond quickly and at scale. Properly integrated marketing workflows powered by AI can provide an advantage, but a people-first plan to educate, upskill and enable will make it stick.

Marketers have created deepfake avatars as branded entertainment before, and we’re making AI humans more realistic and helpful than ever. Currently, MediaMonks is building AI-powered copilots for community managers so they can identify where and how to best combat mis-influencers. 

As tech innovation marches on, marketers must be on the front foot and the right side of change — and to lead their people through that change. There is no denying that throughout history, technological leaps have come with negative side effects. 

As an industry, we must root ourselves in a deep understanding of AI, uplevel our people and corporate culture to match this new cadence of change and develop systems and workflows to empower everyone with tools of insight, creation and governance. 

Grab a seat at the table and know the conversation is going to get spicy, but remember how Swifties’ participation allowed them to drive positive change for their people — well, person — and her brand. 

Michael Doblell is executive VP, global head of innovation at MediaMonks.



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