4 Aug '22

Nick Edwards

The natural content theory (and proof!)

I genuinely believe that most people hate marketing

I’ve spent 3 years with Joshua building a startup around this idea.

Sounds glib - perhaps it is 🤷‍♀️ - but let me explain…

Joshua noticed something when running digital at record labels. When it came to paid media, natural-feeling content often outperformed the more professional, slick looking stuff.

Anything that looked too much like marketing tended to put people off. Think high production value content with overt sales-y language.

This was especially true on social media.


Step 1: we started a music marketing company called archForm to test the ‘people hate marketing’ idea. We validated it with a bunch of artists (across genres).

Step 2: after the initial validation, we started building Feed. The platform identifies & promotes an artist’s best performing organic content. Hypothesis: this is the most efficient way to hit a goal like “Grow Instagram” or “Grow Spotify” using social media ads.

3 years on, we’ve been able to dig into more data and the results are pretty conclusive:

Natural feeling, organic content performs ⚡️ 100% better ⚡️ as paid media than more sales-y posts

(Sales-y posts = posts with text or creative that is an overt sell. E.g. “stream my album”, “new track out now”, “buy merch here”. Performance based on metrics like cost per click, or engagement rate depending on the campaign objective)

Why is this true?

Erm… we can’t say for sure. But our theory is that:

  1. People want to hear from the artist. Not their marketing team.
  2. People are super sensitive to being sold to.
  3. It’s more effective to communicate value versus event.

To explain the last point: imagine you want people to stream a new album. A post with the packshot saying “EP out now” (the event) typically won’t perform well.

But a lo-fi video of them rehearsing a track (the value) typically generates more click throughs and streams.

The effect seems more pronounced on social media. Probably because ads appear amongst friends, family etc.

What’s crazy: posts that perform best at selling records, merch or tickets often don’t focus on selling those products at all!

If you made it this far, I hope that was interesting. Clearly I’m biased on this... but at least I’m biased with some supportive data!

Has anyone else noticed the same? Or the opposite?!

Join our newsletter