Why brands need to listen up when it comes to social music

This article by our Social Media and Insights Manager, Laaiqah Aslam, originally appeared in The Drum.

Festival season is well and truly upon us. At this time of year, brands are often prompted to consider how sound and audio fits into their marketing strategies.

Audio branding overall is growing in importance, but there’s one area in particular that’s been embraced on social media – music. We’re now seeing more music-focused ad options, functionalities and even social platforms. Here’s a rundown of the biggest updates and offerings to be aware of right now.

New functionalities

Instagram has revealed its new music stickers with lyrics option for Stories, which display the song lyrics on screen so that users can sing along. Music is big on Instagram at the moment and this is just part of it; it’s also a discovery platform for new songs. Users often share album covers and Spotify links to music on their Instagram Stories, before heading over to Spotify to collate them.

Brands can use music on Instagram and other social platforms in the same way that they would an above the line ad – to evoke emotion and connect with users. Relevant brands could also tap into this behaviour of discovery by collaborating with and promoting up-and-coming artists to their followers.

Rise of music-focused platforms

The current platform de jour, TikTok, started life as teen karaoke app Musical.ly, so it’s fair to say its heritage is one based on music. Even now, there’s a strong emphasis on music within TikTok and its 15-second clips are usually set to music and often have lip-syncing thrown in. Brands looking to get involved in the fast-growing platform should be aware of their musical approach as much as their visual one – a backing tune can make or break a piece of content.

Musically-targeted ad options

Spotify has 217 million monthly active users worldwide. While this may be lower than the major social platforms, it’s significant that 100 million of these are willing to pay for its service. The company is known for clever use of data in its ad campaigns, but it also has some great offerings of its own for brands. It recently introduced podcast listener-segment targeting, so that brands can target ads based on the type of podcasts the user is streaming.

Companies can also make branded playlists linking to their landing page, or sponsor a session on Spotify to offer consumers thirty minutes of uninterrupted music in exchange for viewing a brand video. That in itself could help tap brands into the festival season nostalgia or FOMO.

On a more visual note, events company Live Nation has revealed plans to create augmented reality tools for brands and festival goers to use to bring them closer to live acts.

Outside the box

We’ve seen brands like Adidas collaborate with artists to create their own unique tracks and many others, such as Red Bull, inspire and support up-and-coming talent. I love ‘Expensify This’ from Expensify, a self-deprecating campaign that uses music to make a fairly dull subject appear sexier.

The beauty of music is that it’s creative and unique – there’s no set formula, which means brands can think outside the box. The only real rule is to stay true to your brand values and make sure you’re in a credible place to be involved in the conversation.

Music is something people feel passionate about and won’t be forgiving of a brand hijacking the space for pure commercial gain without giving something back.