Music Business

How Word Of Mouth, The Theory Of 22 Works Online

Despite the many marketing innovations the music industry has seen over the years, word of mouth remains the most powerful promotional tool available to artists – a power which is only amplified used online.

Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

Word of mouth always has been, and still is the most trusted form of promotion available, regardless of whether it’s in-person or online. The only difference is that it’s so much more powerful when done online, as outlined in this excerpt from the latest 3rd edition of my Social Media Promotion For Musicians handbook.

Imagine having a face-to-face conversation with one of your friends and saying, “Dude, I am so happy with this new project that I’ve been working on with Dave Grohl. I put a lot of work into it, but it was worth it because I think it’s coming out great.” Somewhere down the road, that friend might then say to one of his friends, “I heard that John (you) was working on a pretty cool project with Dave Grohl and it’s coming out great,” who then tells another friend, who tells another friend. Before you know it, each friend has told anywhere from three to five friends (according to a study by Ford Motor Company done in 1986), depending upon how relevant and juicy the news was.

Now imagine posting the same news on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any social network. You’ve now multiplied that reach by hundreds or thousands. Not only will your fans and followers repost your news online, but they’ll probably physically tell their friends as well. This goes to show what a massive force-multiplier word of mouth on social media can be when it comes to promotion, especially when you consider the fact that each of your Facebook friends has an average of 338 friends!

The Theory of 22

While people may tell three to five friends about any good news, that same Ford study also found that something negative can spread even further.

Ford found that a person with a complaint will tell an average of 22 people! Something that’s merely displeasing may be communicated to only between five and ten.

This is why it’s important that you learn to promote online the correct way, since any misstep can quickly get out of control and can potentially do more harm than good. This is one of the few cases where sometimes you’re lucky if you’re simply ignored.

That said, when it comes to marketing just about anything (including you and your music), social media should be a priority since it’s an effective yet inexpensive platform for getting the word out that consumers deem credible.

You can read more from the last 3rd edition of my Social Media Promotion For Musicians handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of

Share on: