Adobe Summit EMEA: Spotify Deepens Emotional Connection Through Storytelling

Make unique stories to connect with customers and show you understand them, is the message from Tim Grimsditch, director of global product and performance marketing at digital music service Spotify.

Adobe Summit EMEA: Spotify Deepens Emotional Connection Through Storytelling

If you are getting into storytelling, Spotify’s top tips are to make it meaningful, personal, and unique to your brand.

Spotify is a firm believer that storytelling can truly deepen relationships with customers and encourage them to bring in new users, so long as three guiding principles are observed—make it meaningful, personal, and unique to the brand.

Tim Grimsditch, director of global product and performance marketing at Spotify, told delegates at Adobe Summit EMEA in London that these simple steps would ensure brands can share stories that delight customers and encourage them—in Spotify’s case, to share their love of music through social media.

“Every brand wants to tell stories, but if they’re just data-driven, they can be a lot less inspiring than you’d hoped,” Grimsditch said.

“At Spotify we make the stories we tell personalised around the music people have been listening to, we make it meaningful by revealing insights around their listening behaviour, and we make it unique to Spotify. Those stories could only come from us, that’s the key.”

Personal Stories

“Discover Weekly” is a prime example. Every Monday Spotify users can open a new playlist that has been personalised for them based on what they have been listening to recently and what people with similar tastes have also been enjoying. Some 30 million people will open the playlist that has been automatically created for them each week.

“The reaction has been amazing, not just in the number of people who use the personalised feature,” says Grimsditch.

“The social media coverage we get from people who are amazed at how we ‘get’ them is staggering. It’s clearly developed a stronger bond between Spotify and its customers, based on the emotional connection we can make by taking data and using it to show we understand them.”

Sharing The Message

Similarly, a one-off campaign last year called “Found Them First” appealed to the emotional connection between music fans and the artists they want to claim to have discovered before everyone else. “Found Them First” actually put the claim to the test, revealing to fans in an email which artists they were among the first to listen to. Within a couple of weeks of launch, one million users had accessed their “score” for how many artists they had helped to break, generating 100 million social media impressions as the results were shared.

“Using our data, we could tap into that emotional bond between artists and fans, which means people always want to say they listened to them before everyone else,” Grimsditch said.

“It was both emotional and meaningful because it allowed fans to test how many times they really were there before everyone else. We made it very shareable and the social media success was staggering. We got 100 million social media impressions without spending a single penny on social.”

Summing It All Up

At the end of each year, Spotify informs users what they have been listening to throughout the year as a way of connecting what was going on in their lives and the wider world with the music they have been enjoying. “The Year in Music” summary has been developed over the past couple of years to a point where it can now actually offer entire districts insights to their collective musical tastes and not just each individual.

“It’s an evergreen story we tell each year but can build on what we’ve said in the past,” Grimsditch explains.

“We still tell people what they were listening to by month or season, and which artist they’ve been enjoying the most, and which of their tracks they played most often. Only now we’ve added music they and others were listening to around key emotional themes such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the Love Wins same-sex marriage campaign.

“For 2015 we also analysed New York district by district and ran posters in each area to tell them who they’d been listening to the most throughout the year. The poster campaign was really successful. We got a lot of press out of revealing the very trendy, hipster area of Williamsburg in Brooklyn had actually been mostly listening to Justin Bieber!”

The stories Spotify shares with its users serve several purposes. They add meaning to the relationship between users and the brand, which is both personal, insightful, and could only come from the brand. These are the keys Grimsditch believes brands need to look at when forming their storytelling strategies.

The prize for brands is they can enjoy a deeper bond with customers and, at the same time, the stories the brand tells help explain what the service is about to the next generation of users. These people will see social shares from friends on Spotify and sign up to get their personal recommendations each Monday as well as a review of their first year on the service and, if run again, an insight into how many artists they truly were among the first to discover.