Spotify Wrapped - How one company seduced us with our data

By Hannah McCreesh | 26 January 2022
Spotify Wrapped - How one company seduced us with our data

As a consumer, I’m used to being told I should be fearful of data. In particular, fearful of the companies who use my data to relentlessly advertise to me. At best, it’s a mild interference in my day. At worst, it feels downright invasive.

I know that coming from a Marketing Manager, this might seem hypocritical. But I do believe that we can market to people in an ethical way, without exploiting their data. At this stage, I’m certain that Meta knows more about me than I know about myself!

In a time when the government and consumers are deeply mistrustful of deep data-mining practices, one company has managed to achieve something that, in my opinion, is quite incredible.

They’ve managed to create an annual campaign where their customers not only choose to share the data of their own volition but do so with genuine enthusiasm.

The company in question is the music streaming platform, Spotify. On December 1st every year, Spotify presents the yearly data they have collected on us, neatly wrapped up in a virtual bow and named, quite aptly, Spotify Wrapped.

And instead of fearing this data, what do we do? We jump at the chance to share it with our peers, even if reveals that we listened to the same embarrassing song on repeat for 320 hours that year.

We post the data to our Instagram stories and TikTok accounts, and deliberate with friends over what kind of a niche “techno jazz” is supposed to be. You see, Spotify Wrapped has managed to do what thousands of companies have failed to do before them - they’ve seduced us with our data and in turn, we cleverly market their business on their behalf.

Here’s how I think they’ve managed it:

1. They make the data aesthetically pleasing


Here’s the thing - we are fickle people, and Spotify Wrapped is extremely aesthetic pleasing. This isn’t a Microsoft spreadsheet full of numbers and insights - it’s an interactive series of animations.

They present our data beautifully - it’s branded, colourful and interactive. It takes you through a journey of your music tastes, playing extracts of personalised songs as you dive deeper into the results

It appeals to multiple senses, looks lovely and is engaging from start-finish. Most crucially, it also encourages you to share your results on social media and they make it incredibly easy for you to do so.

Spotify Wrapped is a huge testament to the power of data presentation - when it’s done well, it can transform the user experience.

2. The data allows people to express themselves


Spotify Wrapped is a powerful marketing tool because it plays on peoples’ need to show themselves as individuals. Music is a way of expressing yourself, no matter your age, gender, or occupation, it’s something that is universally adored.

Sharing your taste in music, especially using social media, is a fun way to encourage users to share a side of their personality with their friends and families.

It’s a way of bringing people together, uniting them over a common cause and harnessing the shareability of social media - these are some of the reasons why I believe it’s so successful.

3. The data was built to be shared on social media


Spotify Wrapped takes advantage of two key elements of social media - shareability and the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Even if at first you weren’t particularly interested in exploring your 2021 tastes in music, soon the temptation grows when you see your friends and families sharing their results on social media.

Spotify has been strategic in the way they’ve done this by allowing users to share their insights via their Instagram stories, rather than through a static Instagram post.

Instagram stories are a feature that is used much more regularly by peoples’ followers- the organic reach of posts, in particular, is incredibly low so even if you were to share the insights via Instagram post, most of your audience would never see them in their feeds.

Not only does Spotify Wrapped keep existing Spotify users engaged, but it encourages new users too - they saw a 21% increase in app downloads after their December 2020 Spotify Wrapped campaign.

The campaign has been running since 2017 and essentially, it’s an exercise in user engagement - and a successful one at that.

Is Spotify Wrapped just a shiny distraction from the fact that they are using our data to market and sell to us? Of course.

But they’ve proven that when it comes to creating insights, focussing on beautifully designed, shareable data is the key to user-led marketing success.

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