One Person Does Not Equal “Everyone”

A couple of months ago I wrote about the challenge that communicators face in recognizing that we are not the same as our audiences. A similar dilemma sits alongside that for communicators engaged in social media: one person does not equal a majority.

Just as the fact that you think something doesn’t mean everyone does, the fact that one person complains about something online shouldn’t mean you go into crisis mode. One complaint doesn’t mean you have to change your business processes.


Social media can, and frequently can be, the canary in the goldmine. If you see a steady trickle of people complaining about something over a period of time, you should pay attention. That doesn’t mean you automatically have to change things, but remember: direct feedback is one of the most powerful benefits of social media.


One thing to remember: While one person’s moment of pain may not be something that requires serious change to your processes, you need to separate that decision from that of whether to engage with that person to solve their pain.

This is an area where experienced practitioners can help companies as they plot their way through the social media waters. People who aren’t familiar with the space may blow something completely out of proportion (or, on the flip side, not heed the warning signs when they are present).

So, next time you see someone complain about something online, stop and think: is this the canary in the coal mine, or are you about to cry wolf?

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