Spotify's secret way of marketing

Plus the funniest tweet thread about Clubhouse on the planet

Good day good friend! Did you get fooled by anything today? So far I’m safe.

If you noticed that Timber didn’t release a new story on our main site this week, thanks for your astute attention.

We’re running to the end of the last series of stories, and are just revving up a new series. Our last series had a theme of really digging into certain types of podcasts and trying to uncover what makes them good in a teachable way.

The next series is going to be about podcast production. In terms of timing, there are still two or three more pieces trickling in from the last series and the next one will start in a month or so. I hope you enjoy them!

Spotify’s secret marketing strategy

In the world of software developers, there are some famous ones. We call them “celeb devs” or “developer influencers,” and they are typically people that are in heavy rotation on the the software conference speaking circuit. They often work for one of the big companies like Google, Microsoft, or AWS, and they have at least 20 thousand followers on Twitter, but usually more.

Last week I noticed this tweet from celeb dev Emma Bostian, and thought “well isn’t that interesting, I’m gonna have to include this in the newsletter.” Read the tweet real quick, then I’ll tell you what it means to me.

Emma is an influencer, and she was hired by Spotify not just because she’s a good developer, but because her presence there has marketing value. In general, the developer community disdains traditional marketing and works pretty hard at unsubscribing and using ad blockers to escape it.

Winning over developers requires subtle influence. Astute companies like Amazon with their Amazon Web Services division put actual coders into communications roles (called “devrel” or “developer evangelism”) to solve this problem of marketing stigma.

But even devrel has started to acquire that marketing stink to it, and companies are asking actual developers that do the real work of building their products to publicly talk about what they build.

I believe that Spotify is experimenting with creating a marketing advantage by hiring celebrity developers like Emma. And when she does her big reveal of new Spotify features on Twitter, that causes other developers to pay attention. Maybe it gets some grassroots buzz going.

Software developers have a ton of sway in influencing the software decisions of non-software people. So if your developer friend says Spotify has the best playlist creator, you might believe them over an ad from Spotify, and that developer friend might have had that idea planted in their head by Emma.

Interestingly, Apple doesn’t appear to use this approach. They never let developers openly talk about what they’ve made or what they’re working on. If you do find out, it’s because of a carefully tuned keynote talk or Apple branded PR announcement that includes the developer. I think this puts Apple at a disadvantage in today’s influencer-driven marketing world.

Absolutely hilarious imagining of Clubhouse’s downfall

I love when people go out on a limb and predict a big failure. This might be the most hilarious and best scripted one I’ve ever seen. It also happens to be incredibly insightful. If this isn’t the best thing you’ve ever read on Clubhouse then I don’t even know who you are.

Thank you for reading and enjoying and sharing! Have a great Thursday.


—Jon Christensen