I looked at different year-end recaps and here’re what I learned…
Spotify Wrapped was introduced in 2015 with a goal in mind to share with users some personalized insights about their app habit, or in this case, their “music taste”. Back then it was called Year in Music, listing the biggest songs of the year and a user’s top 100 songs, then later changed to #SpotifyWrapped the year after and has been ever since.
To be fair, Spotify was definitely not the first company to do a year-end recap, Youtube had its first Youtube rewind on December 13, 2010–5 years before the first Spotify Wrapped. They have been producing annual videos every year as an overview of Youtube trends, music and virals for each year. However, these videos usually received a lot of negative feedback from the audience and unfortunately, they had to discontinue the tradition in 2020.
With the wide adoption of a data-driven culture in business, especially the tech industry, it’s not hard to foresee that brands will leverage their abundance of data and at one point, present users with stats regarding their behaviour, thus “Year in Review” at one form or another. Before we dive into the analysis of why they even share this critical information (which can potentially be taken advantage by rival firms), let’s have a look at some popular recaps in 2021 other than Spotify:
2021 marked the first year Hulu introduced “Your TV DNA”, a tool for users to find out how many TV series they have watched, their favourite genres and provide a recommendation for the new year, pretty neat huh?
They broke down users into 8 unique categories with super creative names for each based on their binged-watched list, for me, this was very worth sharing with peers, because of the cool titles.
Snapchat released its 2021 Year End Story this Dec 14 and Snapchat users can view them by swiping up from the Snapchat Camera. Reminding you about a (hopefully) good time that you had on Snapchat — it’s all in the hand of the algorithm.
Here’s a compilation of many funny Snapchat “Wrapped” being shared on Twitter: https://www.distractify.com/p/how-to-see-your-snapchat-wrapped
Strava did not forget to reward its users with a personalized year-end recap, not that fancy but enough to deliver the essence of your 2021. What I like about Strava is that the stats in your Year in Sport will update automatically (which can take up to 24 hours before that data is fully reflected), so my last-minute effort won’t be in vain.
They also celebrated the surge in both user growth and activity uploaded in a recent report Strava Year in Sport 2021
It’s understandable to see walking become a popular sport around the world with COVID-19 restrictions in place but many other sports like cycling, yoga or workout were also on the rise.
Reddit Recap measures your scroll amount in bananas. Other useful insights could be mentioned such as most visited subreddits, most popular post with your contribution (upvotes), the biggest trend among subreddits you are following, etc.
Overall, browsing through the Reddit recap was quite interesting and definitely worth sharing considering how much creativity has been put into the making.
Reddit also created a video, which anyone can see to recap multiple trends and events that happened in 2021.
Binance jumped on the bandwagon with Your crypto journey 2021 on Dec 28, which highlights some cool statistics from Binancians’ trading history for the past year such as biggest trading volume, friend referrals, accumulative trading amount, etc.
If you are not a crypto fan, you can still find a lot of shares with the hashtag #2021withBinance on Twitter to see how others were doing.
Here are 3 reasons why Wrapped is a super cool idea:
- To inform: companies are usually blamed for collecting too much user data, and using them for various reasons unknown to users. This is a way to remind people that their data are also used to improve user experience, in this case as insights to help users know more about themselves.
- To explore: descriptive analytics is nice and all but remember all these big companies are expanding their data science team to up their AI games? An end-year wrapped is definitely more beneficial if it can give us some pointers on what to do next. How about trying out some indie songs? joining these new Reddit groups? be a part of those emerging communities?
- To share: wrapped is a great way to share your interests with people around you, it makes the person deem more interesting while promoting the platform to non-users — a win-win for both the App provider and its audience.
Why did some recaps work/get shared and some flop?
Many recaps lacked this feature and made it less special for users. In my opinion, this very aspect is what makes or breaks a year-end campaign. When presenting data insights, it’s not about you (the company) but it’s about the audience, thus an overview of what users cared about would absorb more attention (and more share-worthy) than a generic overview of the whole data set.
Many people complained about Youtube recap series because they only focused on big Youtubers or most viewed videos, which made it hard to discover small & rising content creators (because honestly a recap can only be that long but the platform was growing so quickly, it was hard to include everyone). Besides, each person has different interests, and follows a different set of channels; it is hard to satisfy everyone. Honestly, I think the decision to discontinue Youtube rewind was a good call considering the huge amount of production value in those projects that cannot personally resonate with viewers. This brings us to my 2nd point…
Spotify became so hype because its audience was asking for more after the first Wrapped. They have tried to make their year-end recap more special over the years, so it’s no doubt that people look forward to it when the last quarter comes to an end. Being the most popular music-sharing platform did contribute to the success since we are already familiar with making albums or sharing our favourite playlists with everyone.
The format of delivery could also be another barrier to reaching more audiences since the content delivered is stored on another platform such as YouTube or the brand’s website, which is usually 2–3 clicks away, and sharing is definitely not the top CTA.
Data representation is something I was looking forward to learning from not just Spotify but any year-end recap. Here’s a video that goes over the design thinking of the Spotify team, how they navigate challenges, blend creativity, collaboration and data into one final piece:
In my opinion, there are 2 elements that go hand in hand when it comes to data representation: the data and how you tell it. It’s truly awesome to see Spotify have it in the bag with their 2021’s recap:
Data: we are all aware of the social stories taking over all major social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn). Approximately 86.6% of Instagram’s users post stories every day. It makes sense that the Spotify team abandon the fancy chart visualization like previous years and went for simple bullet lists but stories friendly in 2021. In the end, the goal is to get the brand to reach a wider audience, who are potentially not data experts, in a short amount of time, simplifying data into no-chart is a wise move.
Story-telling: Perhaps that’s how stories work but still I love the way Spotify represents the data to users, starting with a question, then providing data to answer the unknown.
The short pause between each story swipe is the eyebrow-raising moment we need to prepare for the secret to unfold. Probably the flow would be more controlled and natural if the recap were done in form of videos like some other brands did but stories allow users to revert back to the previous question if they want to spend more time discovering.
I think a year-end recap is a very cool project that all brands should consider doing. It doesn’t have to be at the end of the year, it could be for the company’s 5 years anniversary, or for a special moment that customers can relate to. The spirit is that the data being collected from users is being analyzed and represented for users’ benefit.
If you are interested in seeing more recaps, here’re some that I have found: