When I read the news about the beef between Taylor Swift and Spotify yesterday I couldn’t help but to think of Ann Handley. Yes, Ann Handley, of MarketingProfs, Everybody Writes, Tiny Houses and content marketing fame came to mind as I read about T-Swizzle pulling her music off the popular music-streaming site, Spotify. And no, it’s not because Ann just launched a new album and then pulled it from Spotify (at least I don’t think she did). In truth it was Spotify’s clever content marketing around the news that made the connection in my oft tangled thinking process.
Before I go on, let me assure you that this article is not about who is right or who is wrong. You’ll find plenty such articles from the likes to Time, The Guardian, Mashable and thousands of others sources. No, this article is about the clever content marketing from Spotify in the wake of this news.
With that out of the way, back to how my mind bridged the gap between Swift and Handley.
My thought process went something like this:
— I received my daily news brief email from TheSkimm, a well-written daily news briefing, which brought the story to my attention. It sounded interesting so…
— I did a quick Google News Search and found MANY articles on the subject. I read a few and got the gist of the story: Taylor and her record company pulled her music off Spotify. The music-streaming site and Swift’s fans were disappointed. One of the articles mentioned a message posted on the Spotify website, so I clicked through to their news page…
It had the following message…
— Which got me thinking about what Spotify might have posted on their social media pages…
— While reviewing these pages I noticed 4 things that screamed clever content:
- It is well written, it’s not a press release, but rather a genuine piece of content. In a mere 136 words they explained their position, expressed their users love of Swift, and inserted a personal message to Swift herself.
- They offered a lovely gift to their audience in the form of a playlist designed to get them through the no Taylor days.
- They offered a play list to Taylor herself, designed to woo her back.
- They created a hashtag campaign #justsayyes designed to get fans to help win Taylor back on all social pages.
— As I read through all of these very brief, well written, pieces of clever content, the acronym tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) came to mind, a concept I first heard Ann Handley explain during her Content Marketing World presentation in September.
She explained that a story doesn’t have to be long winded to be great, it just needs to tell a useful and relevant story with a measure of empathy to be great. Ann explained “words are our ambassadors” and “make us look smart or dumb.” In the Case of Spotify, their words and clever content made them look very smart. And their words didn’t fit into the dreaded tl;dr category, they fell into the more coveted gr;li (great read; loved it) category.
— This revelation had me jumping over to the notes I took during her presentation. I wanted to see if I was remembering her tl;dr lesson correctly; I was. As I read through my notes, I saw a 3 more pieces of advice Ann offered in her presentation that also played out in Spotify’s Swift related content:
- What is the story only you can tell? Only Spotify was qualified to tell this story in the way it was told. Handley suggests asking the question “So what?” when thinking about content. You answer to this question will shine a light on whether you have a unique point of view and if your audience will care about what you have to say. In this case, the answer is yes.
- Give Customers Gifts: Spotify offered two gifts, a play list for Taylor and a playlist for her fans who may be missing her music. Very nice of them, and very clever content.
- Focus on empathy, relevance and offer something useful: Spotify nailed all three in only a few short paragraphs. They let customers know they care and want Swift’s music back too (empathy). They explained the situation, how it impacts users and how they pay artists (relevance). And, they offered the gift of music (something useful).
— And then I had the idea for this article, which has me here, typing away…
While my brain did turn a few summersaults to make the connection between T-Swizze and Ann’s lessons, I was thrilled see them play out in real time with a well-known brand. In the end, all of this adds up to clever content marketing that accomplished three things for Spotify:
- It enabled a public comment about a highly public matter, quickly addressing a “PR Crisis” head on.
- It sent a message to their users to let them know they are on it and that they too want Swift back.
- It sent a message to Taylor that explained the logic of their artist revenue model, expressed their opinion of her music being pulled and let her know they really want her back.
Bravo Spotify. I have no idea what Swift has to say on the matter, whether her music will come back to their service or who is right or who is wrong, but I do know that I have a new found respect for Spotify’s marketing and communications. I know I will be watching, and learning, from them going forward…
All of this makes me wonder, are there Ann Handley fans on the Spotify marketing team?