You Aren’t Always Right

As our team does more and more online outreach on behalf of our clients, I’m increasingly coming to realize that you can’t expect to “win” every debate.

Interestingly enough, “you” in this case can refer to either side of the discussion.

Companies – you don’t have to win

As a communications pro, with inside knowledge of the company/companies you represent, it’s easy to get caught-up in your own story. I mean that in a positive way – the best job is one you’re passionate about, whether that passion is focused on your employer or a client. Still, it’s easy to get swept away by the great things you’re doing, by the benefits your organization can offer, and by the great story you’re telling.

Trouble is, other people have a different story.

Maybe they have a history with that company. Maybe they perceive the situation in a completely different way to that in which you perceive it. Maybe they’re looking to solve different problems to you.

As a communicator who listens and engages with your target market online, you need to remember that you don’t have to convince everyone every time. Sometimes it’s enough that you show you’re listening. Sometimes it’s enough to put forward an alternative angle. Sometimes it’s best not to engage at all.

Consumers – you’re not always right

Social media, and the increased voice that it gives to the average person, seems to have led to many people believing that one person’s issue means a company has to change course.

Reality check, people: no company is ever going to be able to make everyone happy. What’s more, most changes in business have a counter-effect:

  • Lower the price on one thing and the revenue has to come from somewhere else (or increased volumes)
  • Basic management theory explains that of the three basic elements of a project outcome – cost, speed and quality – you can optimize two but have to compromise on the other.

My point here is that you may not like something, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else feels the same way. The opposite is potentially true, too – just because you’re happy with something doesn’t mean everyone else is.

Don’t expect every single company to leap to attention because you, personally, don’t agree with fundamental aspects of their business model.

So, next time a company responds to your concerns but puts forward an alternative perspective or just doesn’t drop everything to make big changes to their business based on your feedback, consider:

Is it them not listening to their customers, or an individual not necessarily representing the masses?


Social media engagement isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Not from the customer’s perspective, and certainly not from the company’s.

Social media allows companies to reach out to customers, and vice versa. It lets companies listen to concerns; to answer questions; to help people; to develop relationships. It lets customers voice opinions; receive support; put forward ideas.

Just remember – whether you’re the company or the customer, you aren’t always right.

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.