How Spotify Jumped Onto the Social Media “Brandwagon”

How Spotify Jumped Onto the Social Media “Brandwagon”

Philippa Dods
11 September 2019

Musically says “If you’re not Indian, there’s a strong chance you haven’t played Antakshari.” For the uninitiated, Antakshari also known as ‘Anthyakshari’, and is a spoken parlour game played in India where each contestant sings the first verse of a song that begins with the Hindustani consonant on which the previous contestant’s song selection ended. If you’re a playlist-based app, that should be music to your ears as an innovative social marketing avenue – here’s how Spotify is bopping along to the sweet ‘sound’ of success…

Spotify played the opening note digitally, when it tweeted the suggestion to start the digital game a few weeks ago, based on their opening suggestion of ‘Meri Gully Mein’, from Zoya Akhtar’s Hindi blockbuster – ‘Gully Boy’ – and asked the next participant to start with ‘N’. Indian-born Canadian singer Jonita Gandhi of ‘The Breakup Song Fame replied with ‘Ninne Vidavanule’ and nominated music composer trio Shankar Ehsaan Loy to keep the momentum rolling, and the game was on, all using the campaign’s #SunteJa hashtag.

Antakshari - Spotify on Twitter

No Random Playlist Was Used in Digital Antakshari

News site Afaqs adds: that the likes of Salim Merchant, Badshah and Nucleya also joined in the fun, but the specific influencers were not by random selection – instead, they were strategically selected in order to better showcase Spotify India’s music library.

Fittingly, if a user clicked on the Spotify links of the songs shared on Twitter, a version would play as you needed to log in to Spotify to listen to the full song.

Unfortunately, it seems some of those who clicked through felt they’d been played due to the somewhat limited selection – not surprising as Spotify’s India unit only started streaming in February this year.

The campaign still gained lots of traction though so can be deemed a success, especially in terms of that often all-too-tricky aspect of selecting celebrity influencers who from the same songsheet with the overall campaign’s intention, of raising awareness and driving new users to Spotify India from other social platforms.

Music For Everyone, In Every Mood

And while Spotify India’s a fairly new release, it’s not the first time the music-streaming service has teamed up with celebrity influencers.

AdAge India reported in May that before the #SunteJa hashtag, it also played around with a #workingwithSpotify hashtag and the launch campaign ‘There’s a playlist for that’, which leveraged on the music streaming service’s curated playlists to recommend others based on your listening habit, of which Hindustan Times confirms Spotify has over 3 billion playlists in India.

#WorkingwithSpotify included social media influencers across all genres such as Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh. Singh’s alignment with the brand was made all the more authentic as who posted a tweet about his gym routine, stating he “can’t work out without music,” then integrated Spotify India into his tweet by stating he’s created a killer play list called “Ultimate Gym Sesh.” Spotify also shot a video with Singh, where he explained his gym music choices that cracked the playlist.

And Singh’s not the only one. South Indian film actor Mahesh Babu also used the #WorkingwithSpotify hashtag to state that Spotify India’s ‘Purely Prema’ playlist gets him in the right frame of mind before filming romantic movie scenes. Kajal Agerwal has also mentioned using the “Thara Local” playlist to get into “dance mode,” while the she says the Tamil “Tollywood Pearls” helps retain her focus before acting.

Reminder of a Social Influencer Fail, So You Don’t Hit the Wrong Chord reports Spotify also made a promotional video with artists from across the world welcoming local users to the platform when it launched in India. One of the videos, said to have “caused a social media frenzy”, was of Korean boyband BTS uttering the Hindu greeting “Namaste.”

These examples all form part of Spotify India’s strategy to use different influencers to promote different playlists for different music moods across social media.

But what exactly goes into selecting the ideal influencer for your brand?

It’s something many brands struggle with – you want the big-name influencer to be part of your campaign, but if they haven’t expressly listed your product as a passion, there may be a slight mismatch of harmony, which clued-up consumers will hear a mile away. Need a reminder of the influencer with 2 million followers who just couldn’t sell 36 t-shirts, anyone?

The product itself was slated as “Nothing personal, or creative, or inspirational, or exciting. They were simply black, long-sleeved, branded T-shirts. And the marketing was immature, unprofessional, and lazy.” It’s also said to not have been a seamless fit with the influencer’s regular content.

But we’re here to learn from others’ mistakes in the social marketing space where we can, and luckily there’s lots of advice out there, on how to do it right.  Because influencer marketing is a tough (betel) nut to crack, people. That’s why we out together a guide on how to find the right social media influencers for your brand in India – it’s so important to have a tool in place that automatically distinguishes social media users with true and artificial influence.

Bonus Extra: Read our guide on How to Find Social Media Influencers in India for the lowdown on everything you need to know about discovering, contacting and managing relevant influencers.

Investigate Influential Influencers

In it, they list the following six aspects to consider in weighing up whether you’re approaching the right influencers for your brand’s goal:

    1. Go for top influencers with massive reach when your aim is to increase brand awareness.
    2. Go for influencers who post honest, authentic content if your aim is to boost brand sentiment.
    3. Go for niche influencers who create authentic content if your aim is to build brand trust.
    4. Go for relevant micro-influencers with high engagement rates if your aim is to drive engagement.
    5. Go for a mix of top, mid-level and micro-influencers across various relevant niches if your aim is to drive conversions
    6. Go for industry experts and niche influencers with significant reach if your aim is to promote a product launch.

Cecilia Qvist, Spotify’s global head of markets, shares on that for bigger markets like India, the brand definitely does spend more time researching before launch, because of the size and complexity of the market. She adds: “I’d define India as more a continent than a country. We launched in five languages, we also made sure the narrative was localised and appealed to the local audience.”

Sing a New Tune: Take Your Brand Messaging Off-Platform

Because while influencer marketing success is key for digital and social media marketers, it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all. In fact, many of us still put traditional marketing platforms, first. Luckily, Spotify India has also braved this space, making a musical splash in the out-of-home sector.

AdAge India explains that Spotify India actually made its launch known to consumers with hyperlocal, topical ads that were flighted across both digital and outdoor. The geo-targeted campaign was said to ensure the right audience sees the right message at the right time.

“Most of these ads were extremely topical and hyperlocal in nature. They are attempting to talk to a consumer in the present and in the place where he is standing, working, reading or eating. It can be in a cab, in New Delhi, Bangalore or Mumbai.”

In an exclusive interview with, Spotify India MD Amarjit Singh Batra confirmed that they not only achieved 2 million active users in a month, they’re also currently among the country’s top three players in music consumption.

Factoring Tech-Usage Trends Into Future Growth Plans adds that Spotify’s Indian launch gave it potential access to another 400 million smartphone users.

But Lakshmi knows we’re tricky to please – especially the younger generation, the ones glued to their phones who quickly swipe away and move on to the next big thing if they don’t see something that grabs their attention in the first few seconds. Luckily, in the exclusive interview, Batra also announced they definitely have plans cater to Gen Z’s growing demand for different kinds of Indian and international music, having recently introduced Spotify Lite, which doesn’t use up as much bandwidth or storage.

Hindustan Times explains this is “a 10MB lightweight application optimised for millions of low-end phones with lesser storage and poor connectivity,” and that Spotify is also tapping different hardware platforms, having introduced Google Assistant support in India for both free and premium users, as well as on Google Home smart speakers.

For a brand that’s only been around a few months, that’s brave branded social media marketing hitting the right note. You can learn from their digital track record by playing in new spaces, as long as you do your research first and find an authentic way to sing your message from the social songsheet.