In September 2023, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs publicly stepped out as a couple for the first time — a story that seized the entertainment and sports news industry. Their romance has resulted in thousands of headlines, and many have commented on the impact of Swift’s attendance at Chiefs games on the National Football League’s (NFL) audience numbers and bottom line. Forbes highlighted the increased online engagement and monetary gains derived from her appearance off and on the football pitch, terming it “The Swift Effect”

Now, with the Super Bowl over, we asked what The Swift Effect meant for publishers. Did publishers see a change in referral traffic for articles about Swift and Kelce? Was digital engagement impacted by the singer’s Midas touch? 

We studied the engagement and click-through rates (CTR) of any article that mentioned both Swift and Kelce in the headline from October 2023 to the end of January 2024. We analyzed data from over 250 social pages from publishers of all sizes. 

How much referral traffic did The Swift Effect produce?

Given the constant scrutiny and excitement surrounding Swift and Kelce, it would seem safe to assume that headlines mentioning them consistently drive referral traffic to publisher websites. 

We compared traffic levels to our benchmark data for publishers. In our latest analysis, the average CTR for Facebook sports content hovered around 3.85% and articles on the platform related to entertainment saw an average CTR of 3.33%. Since this benchmark data was published, it is important to note that Facebook CTR rates have decreased – although our research shows Echobox users fare better. 

For articles mentioning Kelce and Swift, CTR averaged 1.42% over the four month period. The average monthly CTR peaked in November at 1.62% before declining to 1.34% in December and January. While the decline is minor, it does seem to show waning interest in the couple.

The highest average CTR was recorded in early December 2023. This coincided with Swift’s attendance at a Chiefs away game against the Green Bay Packers. Posts at that date hit an average CTR of 2.92% and saw an average of 22 engagements per post. 

What does engagement look like? 

With Facebook’s deprioritization of news and a focus on video, referral traffic from link posts on the platform have generally declined. Many publishers have shifted their focus to posts that boost engagement within Facebook to build communities and foster a loyal audience around their brand. 

We decided to take a look into comments and likes for posts mentioning Kelce and Swift together to understand how much engagement they garner. 

Taking the period from October and January as a whole, the average article published on the topic of Swift and Kelce produced roughly 5 interactions per post. However, we found that for content produced in the immediate wake of a public appearance by the couple this number would often double to 9 or 10 interactions. This phenomenon is shown by the frequent peaks in the graph below.

Average engagement for Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift headlines (1)

Looking at the average engagement per share for each month, we can see a little more detail. 

The average post in October, when news of Kelce’s and Swift’s relationship became public, generated around 7 interactions. As you can see from the graph above, by January, this average had declined substantially, with the average engagement per share down to 3. 

Notably, waning interest on social media does not mirror general search trends, which indicate interest over Swift and Kelce hit a lull in December before escalating again in January. This is a common problem publishers face: even if a topic is popular online, it doesn’t always correlate with high traffic and engagement. Using AI for publishers that understands audience patterns and behaviors is crucial to ensure the content posted on social media is always the most relevant and will result in the best metrics possible. 

Which period in the Swift-Kelce romance timeline garnered the most interactions? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Swift’s star-studded appearance at a game in October 2023 with her celebrity friend crew, including Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman amongst others. Articles mentioning this outing saw a median engagement of 26 interactions per post. 

All in all, it doesn’t seem as if Taylor Swift’s popularity delivered for news publishers. Interest dwindled starting December 2023, perhaps in part due to overexposure.


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