13 Lessons from Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour

Inspirations and aspirations for higher education social media teams from the cultural phenomenon of the summer.

4 minutes
By: Andrew Cassel

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is joy and celebration blended with an awareness by participants that life-changing experiences are worth a lot of money.

A concentrated, high-energy, life-changing experience is exactly what higher education markets to audiences. A life-changing experience that, like the Eras Tour, is worth a lot of money.

With that in mind here are 13 inspirations, reminders and aspirations for higher education social marketing teams with examples from Eras Tour content shared publicly by participants on TikTok.

1. Sharing a Safe Space 

Research shows that bringing mental health front and center in content strategies will be increasingly important as higher education manages the approaching enrollment decline.  Community members often share experiences when they feel safe and supported. Amplify the community content that shows how the school supports mental, sexual, physical and academic health.

@brilayfield hey @Taylor Swift THANK YOU from all of us on the floor for yelling at that security guard. he was a pain in the ass the entire night and the fact that this happened during #badblood made it even better 😆 PS show was PHENOMENAL 🫶🏻 Philly night 2 #taylorswift #theerastour #tswift #youneedtocalmdown #fyp #badbloodtaylorsversion ♬ original sound – Briana 💎 CRYSTALLIZED by Bri

2. Challenge Assumptions

Show an eSports athlete describing their favorite hiking spot, or a French language professor interpreting current slang terms. Delight audiences with community members talking about things outside their usual area of study. This is a great way to show the intellectual diversity on any college campus.

@detroitlions That’s when you came in wearing a football helmet and said, “Okay, let’s talk”…about Taylor Swift. #taylorswift #erastour #detroitlions ♬ DETROIT LIONS FAVORITE TAYLOR SWIFT SONGS – Detroit Lions

3. Showcase Fits

When the seasons start to change, it’s the perfect time for person-on-the-street outfit-of-the-day check-ins. This is not only fun for the community but also shows incoming students what kinds of clothes they should be bringing with them when they move to the campus.

@.sierran Night two Detroit Swiftied understood the outfit assignment! #fyp #taylorswift #swiftie #erastour #detroit #karma #swiftiemetgala ♬ Karma – Taylor Swift

4. Leadership that Stands for Something

Build a library of journal articles and podcast appearances by students, staff, faculty and administrative leaders to share as previews leading up to current heritage month content. No matter how genuine a message of support is, when it’s shared without a broader context it can feel performative. Show how leaders are always working for equity and inclusion.

5. Expense Doesn’t Matter When People Care

People will pay the money to come to the school, no matter the price tag, when they really care about the education they will be getting there. “Worth the expense,” is something higher education says in all but words. Perhaps, it’s time to use the words.

6. Encourage Sharing

Classic and still central to success: celebrate campus content creators.

7. Family Experience

On move-in day, homecoming and commencement, include caregivers and parents of students. Seeing how loved ones are so proud of a person they have supported could encourage prospective students to consider that a path in higher education has a positive impact on not only their futures but also the spirits of their whole community.

@abbywithan_ie POV you take your mom to a Taylor Swift concert and you both end up bawling during her favorite song #tstheerastour #tstheerastourhouston #swifttok ♬ Love Story (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift

8. Create Engagement Prompts

Freshen a traditional event by including an experience that encourages engagement from the people in attendance. Find moments along campus tour routes where tour guides can encourage groups to share.

9. Exclusive Merch

At the next marketing brainstorm, bring up the idea of a sweatshirt that’s only available in the campus store. “On your next campus tour be sure to get this in-person-only sweatshirt.” This may be the most ignored idea on this list, or this may be the best idea on this list. No matter, it would be interesting to try.

10. In-Jokes

Students have little things they know that connect them to the place, small jokes about things around campus. Many times, it’s squirrels or something odd that they’ve made a thing. Celebrate those. Let more people in on the in-jokes.

@heysav I just need to make sure we’re all on the same page tonight @taylorswift #theerastour #erastourtampa #swiftie #swifttok #erastour ♬ original sound – savvy

11. Changing Styles, One Voice

The past is not something to ignore. There is a whole history behind any higher education institution. Some of it may be problematic. Sharing about how the school is accepting its past and reconciling what’s happened with what it’s becoming can be powerful content.

@jessinchicago312 name a song you wish taylor played at her eras concert!! mine was no body no crime & cowboy like me 😩🤠 #erastour #erastourtaylorswift #taylorswift #taylorswifterastour #theerastour #chicagoerastour #surprisesongerastour ♬ original sound – jess

12. Surprise Songs

These are the beautiful sunset photos or the rainbow photo. Those great sense-of-place images and videos that performed well in the past. They’ll perform well when reshared. But carefully. Fit them in when unexpected, and they’ll always be welcome.

13. Beyond Brand

Eras audiences are there to celebrate a love of the brand for which the tour stands. Higher education audiences look to content to celebrate all the opportunity education offers. Have confidence in the greatness of the school and what it contributes to making the world a better place.

Andrew Cassel

Andrew Cassel


Andrew Cassel has been creating and curating social media content for higher ed since 2011. Cassel speaks regularly about social media content at conferences and symposiums. Cassel was awarded a best-in-track Red Stapler and is a five-time winner of the Aurora Awards of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America – Alaska. In 2019, he was a host for Higher Ed Live – Marketing Live. His paper “Twitch for higher education and marketing,” based on his HEWeb 2019 session, was published in the spring 2021 peer-reviewed Journal of Education Advancement & Marketing. Cassel is currently the Senior Social Strategist and Content Producer at Middlebury College.

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