Spotify is changing the game for music, and the company has also been pushing the envelope in what social media can do for a brand. Over the years, Spotify has struck innovative relationships and taken full advantage of the features offered by different networks in order to reach an international audience.

We spoke with Diego Planas Rego, the company’s EU social marketing editor, about how Spotify has expanded its social reach along with its fan base, as well as how it’s stayed on top for so long.

Growing Globally and Locally

Spotify began in Sweden, and spread from there to become a truly global service. In the early days when Spotify was mostly focused in Nordic nations, it was a simple matter for the brand to operate one parent profile on each social network. It centralized all of its fans in a single place. However, as the company grew, it became clear that individual profiles would not be enough.

Diego Planas Rego told us that the big change came when Spotify expanded into Germany, Austria, and Switzerland because these region had so little overlap in music or language with the service’s existing markets. Plus, the attempts to accurately geotarget so many regions as the team of in-house community managers also grew was a logistical issue. The Global Pages Solution on Facebook helped Spotify to keep growing its audience while keeping a very local bend to the content appearing on the network.

Despite the global appeal of Spotify’s music streaming service, it has always been important for the company to treat its different audience as unique groups of listeners. That was a necessity since the music industry of the different countries can vary. For instance, labels introduce new releases on different days, so Spotify’s new music hashtags are not always attached to the same day of the week. Giving listeners in each market their own special treatment has helped secure the great community feeling the brand has on social media networks.

A Voice in Every Language

Social media tools gave the company a way to tailor information to each country. Another way Spotify makes this local social experience work is by having good people on the ground. Even when there isn’t a community manager directly affiliated with the company for a particular market, Spotify works to develop rapport with the local agencies and guide them in how to best represent the brand in the native language. This means the profiles sound like they belong in the market, whether they’re reaching out to fans in the Americas, Europe, or Asia.

“The tone of voice and the content that works in those markets is totally different,” Planas Rego said. Even when there’s a shared language, such as in the United States and in the UK, the social profiles have some distinctions to address the cultural differences at play. “Even though we’re going to try to keep on-brand everywhere, sometimes the things we’re going to do are going to be totally different.”

The company has very clear guidelines for brand voice, but the social media team doesn’t sweat the details of an exact translation. “Spotify in Spain should sound like the cool Spanish Spotify, while Spotify in the U.S. should sound like the cool American Spotify,” he said. “It shouldn’t sound like the American trying to speak Spanish.”

Playing to the Strengths

Part of what has made Spotify’s social media presence so successful is the degree to which the company specializes activity on Twitter and Facebook.

Planas Rego explained that Spotify’s main goals with Facebook are to share product announcements, share music stories, and generate engagement. Facebook has also given Spotify more ways to target its posts about artists specifically to their existing fan demographics without breaking the bank. Across all of the Spotify Facebook profiles, the company sees 60,000 comments a week, so the network has proven itself a powerful tool for driving interactions.

The company uses Twitter more for general interactions and sparking engagement. “Twitter we use more for general stories,” he said, and most of the tweets are about sharing playlists and broad music chats. With a weekly volume of 15,000 replies on Twitter, the team knew they wouldn’t be able to curate all of those conversations. Although Spotify doesn’t use Twitter quite as much, he noted that it’s still a very valuable resource. “The data we have from Twitter is more rich than on Facebook.” He gave the example of learning which are the top tweets mentioning Spotify, so that the team can at least pursue those conversations with the most interactive fans.

Twitter has also been a more useful platform for Spotify in dealing with customer support. Since there’s no good solution for private messaging on Facebook, Twitter was the natural choice for resolving issues with payment or other sensitive customer information. The @SpotifyCares account is where the company has the most Twitter interaction, but he explained that it is run entirely by the customer support staff rather than the social team.

Smart Scheduling

To manage content across so many profiles, Spotify relies on a social media schedule. The content comes from all across Spotify’s staff, from label and artist relations to the marketing branch. “We started becoming kind of like a magazine,” Planas Rego explained. “Each week we get content from all these areas, in each of the markets, and we assign slots to them.” The team juggles which of the items should be considered a headline story versus a regular post. “It was a natural thing to become like this,” he said.

Trying to orchestrate a timetable for the parent brand and for each of the regional accounts could have been a disaster, but Spotify’s smart planning has made it a manageable task. The magazine philosophy gives some structure to the material. While the company can announce major stories, there are also plenty of chances for the country-specific teams to flex their creative muscles in how they reach out to the domestic listeners. For smaller markets that don’t have the same volume of internal content coming out of a local team, the agencies running social will usually just translate the material from Spotify’s global content calendar.

Keeping to a schedule also helps Spotify to better tailor how it uses Twitter and Facebook to interact with fans. Since one market might have a week chock-full of new releases and announcements while another region is quiet, scheduling helps to manage the highs and lows of the music business on a global scale, so that fans in all nations stay connected.

At the same time, the social team knows to expect the unexpected with scheduling. It’s the nature of the industry. “A lot of this is just very last minute, but it’s because the industry works that way,” he said. Spotify frequently learns of new acquisitions on the same day or on next-to-no notice.

Always Innovating

“I think it’s been an empirical process,” said Planas Rego of the efforts to keep social content fresh. He gave the example of how the company first started using the #MusicMonday hashtag. It came from a Norwegian blogger who used Spotify to post a new music playlist each week. The company reached out to her and she agreed to share her weekly updates on the bigger social scale. “We just reached out to them and gave them the brand,” he said of these cases where fans were doing cool, fun things with the Spotify service.

Other ideas just come from brainstorming within the social team. The crew is also responsive to what the analytics say about how these features perform. “We’re changing all these names depending on if we see that it’s not trending anymore,” he said. That means the Spotify is always experimenting, looking for the next way they can get fans excited and engaged. “Personally, I try to do at least once a month,” he said of testing new ideas. That helps them from getting complacent with the formulas that the team knows are a hit.

But as with so much of Spotify’s social strategy, some of the best material has a local bent. The regional teams might be working with local artists and generating new ideas based on those relationships. By keeping the focus on the music and the people who love it, Spotify is able to experiment and play with new ideas while maintaining the trust of its fans.

[Image credit: CGP Grey, Quinn Dombrowski, Pauline G]