With a business model that allows customers to start and stop service at their leisure, Spotify is doing an amazing job of keeping them around. It has similar pricing and a nearly identical music catalog to the other streaming music services, so how does Spotify set itself apart? And what the heck does it have to do with your content strategy?
When it comes to killer content curation and user engagement, Spotify is a role model. In fact, they’re doing such a good job with music that there are five big lessons Spotify can teach anyone trying to curate engaging content:
Lesson #1: Add Unique Value
Spotify doesn’t just provide a music streaming service—it curates playlists and allows customers to curate their own. Unlike other music streaming services, Spotify has built an extensive library of playlists by mood, activity, and even time of day. Playlists can be saved to easily access later and are often updated on a weekly basis. This contributes to Spotify’s unique value of helping users find new music that they normally wouldn’t. Because Spotify constantly adds value to the listening experience, mobile and desktop users listen to music for about 150 minutes per day.
Takeaway: Anyone can curate content, but you need to add unique value to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Lesson #2: Customize Content for Individual Users
The Discover Weekly playlist curates songs based on your listening history and your common taste with other Spotify users. The more you listen, the more data Spotify has for creating your weekly playlist.
Spotify also provides what they call “deep cuts,” which are songs from artists you like that you might not have heard before. This feature is great for discovering new music or for throwing on when you don’t feel like actively controlling your listening experience.
Another great example of using customer data to create custom content is Spotify’s 2015 Year in Music. At the end of the year, Spotify digs through each user’s data and displays statistics about that user’s Spotify trends throughout the year. It displays things like the first track played in 2015, top artists they’ve listened to, and even the artists they’ve listened to the most in each season. Spotify uses their customer data to create a truly personalized experience for their customers, which in turn keeps users engaged.
Takeaway: Customizing content for individual users (or at least narrowly tailored user segments) helps keep them engaged with your content.
Lesson #3: Create a Community
Spotify does an excellent job of bringing its users together to share, enjoy and discover music.
Spotify says that 55% of users connect to its platform through Facebook, allowing users to quickly connect with their Facebook friends through Spotify, and share what they’re listening to. One of Spotify’s oldest features allows users to see what their friends are listening to in real-time, and easily listen to those songs themselves. This ability fosters a community of sharing within their platform. Users also have the ability to share songs with their friends through a messaging app within Spotify—meaning they don’t have to send an email or a text to connect with a friend.
Takeaway: Creating a community creates a stronger connection between your content and people’s real lives. That connection drives stronger engagement.
Lesson #4: Incorporate User-generated Content
Spotify not only provides nicely-curated playlists for subscribers, they allow users to create their own. These user-generated playlists can be searched and accessed by anyone on the platform, adding to Spotify’s vast library. Playlists can be created, saved, and shared among Spotify communities. By allowing the user to generate content for the platform, Spotify gets the best of both worlds: free content and additional buy in from Spotify members.
Takeaway: User-generated content is a free way to build up your content library and help customers feel like they have a voice within your platform.
Lesson #5: Give Your Customers What They Want
Spotify knows that most of its users listen to music on their mobile devices. That’s why they’ve created a seamless experience on their desktop and mobile apps. Users can create a playlist on desktop, and bring it with them on their mobile. Users can also download playlists and listen to them later—no internet connection needed. By optimizing the customer experience on all devices, Spotify allows users to access the service how they want, anytime, anywhere.
Not only does Spotify engage users, the service also provides value for artists. A dashboard called Spotify Fan Insights helps artists grow their fan base and better understand their listeners. The dashboard includes everything from demographic information and geographic location, to the music preferences and engagement levels of their fans.
Takeaway: This may seem like a no-brainer, but listening to your customers’ needs is the best way to tailor your product or service to them.
Why is This Important?
Music streaming is a competitive service, and Spotify is leading the charge as far as differentiating itself from its competitors like Pandora and SoundCloud. Getting users to create custom playlists and engage with their one-of-a-kind curated music ensures that users won’t be jumping ship anytime soon. Users have invested time and energy into building their Spotify profiles, and they will need to really be swayed before leaving their music libraries. These unique user experiences create brand loyalty and trust amongst both paying and non-paying customers, putting Spotify on a pedestal above its competition.
Spotify vs Pandora
While Pandora had a six-year head start on music streaming, Spotify dug deeper. The above graph shows the amount of search volume over the last ten years for both services, with Pandora on a downward trend and Spotify slowly but surely catching up. Spotify now has over 75 million active users, with over 20 million paid subscribers. As of October 2015, Pandora has 78 million active users, down 3 million from the previous year. Spotify’s dedication to the user has helped them compete with music streaming veterans like Pandora, and if Spotify keeps it up, it will solidify their growth for the future.
When curating content, you need to set yourself apart from the competition. Take these five tips from Spotify and see how you can apply them to your own content.
About the Author: Lisa Fowler is an Online Marketing Manager at Clearlink, with a background in Content Strategy and SEO.