Why Brands are Turning to Spotify as the Next Big Social Platform

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May 13, 2019 10:18 am

There are so many social networks to choose from today: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. Maybe YouTube? Maybe Reddit?

We’d love to let you in on a secret one that’s flying under the radar.

Spotify!

We’ve spent time digging into the rise of Spotify as a social media platform, used by today’s hottest brands. The results have been fascinating. We believe that Spotify is fast becoming a core platform for engaging with customers — through paid ads of course, but also through an organic presence. We’d love to tell you how these brands are doing it.

A huge bonus – some of what we’re going share is easy to set up and free to experiment with!

Keep reading to see how the music streaming giant can drive your brand forward and present some unique and exciting opportunities to connect with your audience.


Where Spotify fits in today’s social media landscape

If you were to look at a chart of the online communities of the greatest size and reach, how do you think that chart might look?

Typically, the “biggest” social networks that come to mind are the ones that are top of mind for all of us: Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, which have billions of users.

Beyond those sites are some other familiar names:

  • Twitter and Reddit, which have over 300 million users
  • LinkedIn, which is nearing the 300-million mark
  • Pinterest and Snapchat, which are right near 250 million each.

There’s another community that is right on the heels of these social media giants.

Spotify has 217 million users as of April 2019, and if you were to include Spotify in the list of top social networks, it would fit snugly within the top 20 worldwide.

What’s useful to see here is that many brands and businesses want to be where their customers are. And with user counts like these, it’s obvious there are customers here!

We’re beginning to see, more and more, that the standard definitions for “social networks” are expanding. Brands these days are looking for places to reach their audience and connect. Spotify is clearly one of those places.

The music streaming service has been around since 2008, and it’s been a hidden treasure for marketers for several years now thanks to its deep audience insights. Slowly but surely, Spotify has been gaining critical mass as a must-consider location for brands to be. The website Distilled wrote about the Spotify trends in August of 2018. Many other websites have covered the advertising potential of the platform.

From our research, this trend will only continue to grow.

The way we see it, there are three pillars for brands when it comes to their presence on Spotify.

  1. Playlists
  2. Paid ads
  3. Podcasting

1. Spotify Playlists

Find organic distribution through branded, social playlists

Do you have a guess at how many Spotify playlists there are?

There are over two billion!

Now, don’t let that number scare you off.

Just because there are billions of playlists doesn’t mean that yours won’t get noticed. We’ll get into some distribution methods in a moment, but first let me share another fascinating stat with you:

One-third of all listening time on Spotify is spent on user-generated playlists. That equates to eight hours a week of listening. So clearly there is a lot of demand for playlists on Spotify!

What’s also great about playlists as a brand strategy is that they are easy to set up and free to experiment with … two of a marketers’ favorite attributes.

The barrier for entry is incredibly doable. Just as you create playlists for your personal Spotify listening, you can do the same for your brand. Let’s first walk you through how it works, then we’ll dive into some of the finer details about this strategy.

How to:

To get started, create a new Spotify account for your brand.

And as you would with any new social profile, fill it out completely with your brand name and logo. Some brands do a custom logo for Spotify, featuring different colors or music-related imagery.

Then, start creating your first playlists.

There are several ways to about this. Some brands organize their songs around themes, whether it’s a certain mood or feeling or perhaps a trending topic or event. For instance, McDonald’s has playlists for football and the Oscars.

Gymshark — an athletic apparel brand — partners with influencers to create branded playlists. Each playlist is inspired by the influencer’s music choices and is pitched as a training playlist. They’re quite popular, too. The Steven Cook playlist has 95,000 followers.

When it comes to choosing songs, Spotify recommends a few helpful guidelines to lessen your risk and avoid any implicit endorsement of artists.

  • Put at least 20 tracks on your playlist. The more tracks you have, the better.
    Variety counts, too.
  • No single artist should appear more than once on your playlist
  • Don’t include artists you might think would be opposed to your brand.

For the design of your playlist, you can use emoji in the title to make it stand out. You can also upload a custom cover photo to the playlist. This can only be done by downloading the desktop app; it can’t be done on mobile or on the web app.

The only considerations for your photo are that the file needs to be a JPEG and the file size can’t be more than four megabytes. You’ll also want to use a square aspect ratio. We like to use an 800-pixel by 800-pixel image, just as we do for Instagram.

How do you get people to find out about your Spotify playlists?

Fortunately, Spotify is quite well integrated into the other social networks, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter especially. There are a couple different ways you can get your playlist distributed here.

First, you can rely on your own promotion.

You can link to your playlist on any social channels to drive your audience to Spotify. For instance, you can link directly from your website footer or add a Spotify icon to the other social icons in your email signatures.

Another way to get the word out is to encourage participation.

Some brands create collaborative playlists that all Spotify users can add to. These crowdsourced lists make for a great content in a tweet or Instagram post.

The other way to go about distribution is with Viral promotion.

Playlists themselves are quite shareable as well. When a user likes a song or if they like an entire playlist, they can share them easily to major social networks. Instagram Stories has a direct connection to Spotify so that you can add your latest song directly to your Stories.

And one final playlist note: Keep your playlist updated by adding and removing songs regularly. Each time your playlist changes, the followers of that playlist will be notified.

2. Spotify ads

Experiment with targeted advertising, starting at $250 per campaign

There are a couple big advantages of going with Spotify for ads.

First, they are a younger ad network so you’re likely to get more bang for your buck. This has been true of all ad platforms initially: Facebook several years ago, Instagram Stories and Pinterest recently, and Spotify now. Putting your advertising dollars on younger ad networks is one of our favorite tips for maximizing ad spend.

Second, Spotify has a deeeeeep amount of analytics.

They understand their user’s listening behaviors to an incredible degree, and this allows for advertisers to create some really compelling audiences and storytelling. Consider these stats they have on how Millennials use Spotify:

  • 68% of streams happen on mobile.
  • Millennial listeners are 64% more likely to buy brands they see advertised.
  • Millennials stream on repeat more than they stream on random, and they’re 90% more likely to have the latest tech products.

And there’s these stats about how Tech Early Adopters stream on Spotify

  • They’re almost 900% more likely to stream on a gaming console than the average listener.
  • They’re 41% more likely to listen to music that feels defiant.
  • Early Adopters stream what they like more than they stream new finds, and they’re twice as likely to be brand conscious.

So if you’re thinking about getting into ads on Spotify, here’s what to know:

1. Understand the different ad formats.

Spotify offers audio, video, and display ads. You can fully create and manage your own audio ads through the Spotify Ad Studio. For video and display ads, you can get in touch with the Spotify team through the Spotify for Brands website.

Depending on your budget, you may end up going with one or more of these three ad formats. Initially, when starting out in the Spotify Ad Studio, you can run audio ads beginning at a minimum $250 budget.

Spotify has found that a mixture of ad formats works best. For example, mixing audio and display results in a 24 percent increase in ad recall for those formats.

2. Get to know the different ad segments

You can customize your ad for a host of different settings … Your options include: location, age, gender, platform, and whether you want to advertise across all Spotify music or just in certain genres or on certain playlists.

3. Focus on the experience of your listener.

We mentioned earlier that a variety of ad formats can be helpful. So, too, can a variety of targeting. Spotify is unique among other ads in that it has a strong storytelling element to its data. You can tell what kind of mood a listener may be in, based on previous songs. You may even be able to tell what they’re doing … for instance, if they’re listening to a workout playlist on mobile, chances are that they’re at the gym.

3. Podcasts on Spotify

Create a branded podcast to take advantage of the Spotify platform and Spotify search

(Did you know: Buffer’s Science of Social Media podcast is on Spotify?)

Spotify has made a major investment in podcasts on its platform.

You’ve probably noticed that more and more podcasts are popping up in the Discover tab and elsewhere in the interface. It’s for good reason. Last year, Spotify pledged to invest $500 million in podcasting.

Based on radio industry data, we believe it is a safe assumption that, over time, more than 20% of all Spotify listening will be non-music content.

We’ve already seen some of these investments being made public. Spotify acquired Gimlet Media, a podcast network, and Anchor, a podcasting app, spending hundreds of millions on the acquisitions.

Spotify is clearly making podcasts a priority from here on out.

So what can brands do to take advantage?

Step one is to make sure that your podcast is available on Spotify.

There are a few simple ways to do this.

For our podcast, like I mentioned, we use Anchor to handle all the distribution. Other tools like SimpleCast do this as well. You upload your podcast to Anchor, and they ensure it is published to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other major podcast services.

Alternatively, you can manually add your podcast to Spotify by going to podcasters.spotify.com. From there, you’ll be asked to enter your podcast’s RSS feed and to enter information about your podcast.

Once your podcast is set up with Spotify, you can start thinking about distribution.

We’ve got a couple quick tips for you when it comes to distribution:

First, you can share your podcast to social media just like you would any other favorite music track. We tried this tactic with sharing our Science of Social Media episodes to Instagram Stories, and it works like a charm.

Second, you can capture some Spotify SEO opportunities. No one’s really talking about Spotify SEO yet, but it’s certainly worth considering when you’re coming up with headlines and titles for podcast episodes.

You’ve probably heard that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine next to Google. Well, Spotify’s userbase makes it a large search engine as well. You can make the most of it by being strategic with the naming of your podcasts.

Recap

To recap, we’ve seen brands take advantage of Spotify’s social features in three key ways:

  1. First, with brand playlists.
  2. Second, with targeted advertising.
  3. And third, with podcasts.

We’d love to hear how the platform performs for your brand!


How to say hello to us

We would all love to say hello to you on social media – especially Twitter!

Thanks for listening! Feel free to connect with our team at Buffer on TwitterBuffer on Facebook, our Podcast homepage, or with the hashtag #bufferpodcast.

Enjoy the show? It’d mean the world to us if you’d be up for giving us a rating and review on iTunes!

About The Science of Social Media podcast

The Science of Social Media is your weekly sandbox for social media stories, insights, experimentation, and inspiration. Every Monday (and sometimes more) we share the most cutting-edge social media marketing tactics from brands and influencers in every industry. If you’re a social media team of one, business owner, marketer, or someone simply interested in social media marketing, you’re sure to find something useful in each and every episode.  It’s our hope that you’ll join our 27,000+ weekly iTunes listeners and rock your social media channels as a result!

The Science of Social Media is proudly made by the Buffer team. Feel free to get in touch with us for any thoughts, ideas, or feedback.

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