What You Say Matters. What They Say… Matters More.

Whether you like it or not, people are talking about you around. the. clock…

They’re talking about your company, they’re talking about the amazing services you provide, and about the defective products you’ve manufactured.

They’re complaining about your exorbitant fees and praising your incredible discounts.

They’re talking about your down-to-earth CEO, your hilarious flight attendants, your thoughtful cashiers, your rude customer service reps… and they’re also talking about your competitors who, by the way, are also having their say about you.

They’re sharing pictures of your dirty hotel rooms along with your amazing culinary concoctions. They’re laughing about that off-color comment your CFO made on the earnings call and about your celebrity spokesperson who just checked into rehab.

They’re talking about your latest initiative, your latest commercial, your most recent product innovation and concerned about how poorly they think you’re treating our environment.

These conversations are happening on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds, YouTube channels, online petitions and by text and email.

Each of their platforms has as much power and potential as yours, if not more, to both spread good and bad messages about you. Not to mention: they can move at the speed of light.

In the time it took you to draft a note to your manager, so she can get your legal counsel to approve your tweet, someone hacked your company logo, generated a meme about your shoddy technical support, and then got it up-voted on Reddit for the whole world to see… and then talk about some more.

These examples are but a fraction of what we call your un-owned conversations, conversations you do not control in any way, shape or form. These are the publics’ conversations. And collectively, they’re defining your permission and your reputation 24/7/365.

And while you don’t have control over these conversations, there are various steps you can take to engage with and mitigate them, starting by:

Embedding Yourself:
Simple “social listening” is not enough. You have to achieve social understanding by truly embedding yourself in the conversations that matter to your brand the most (click to tweet). How well do you know all the players in those conversations? How quickly are you able to pick up on the twists and turns in those conversations?

Recognizing Viral-ity:
Is what they’re saying about you a flash in the pan or is it truly picking up steam? Being able to immediately differentiate between the two can mean the difference between appropriately responding and either over or under responding.

Speaking Their Language:
Too often what you have to say and how you prefer to say it simply does not line up with what and how they are wanting to hear it. Creating appropriately voiced and visualized content on-the-fly on the right channels at the right moments in time will be critical to your engagements every step of the way, and to ensuring you don’t come off sounding the least bit tone deaf.

Which is to say: if you’re prepared to tune into their conversations – to truly listen and meaningfully embed yourself – then you’re guaranteed to achieve a level of understanding and engagement like no other. And, a newfound level of confidence that the people you’re trying to reach might actually stop and pay attention to whatever it is you have to say.

About Gur Tsabar

Named one of the top 25 communications innovators in North America. A fixer of reputations for some of the world's largest and most innovative Fortune 500 companies, industry associations, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions. Veteran social/digital storyteller. Published the Our Authentic Careers podcast. Co-founded Room Eight, one of New York City's oldest community political blogs. Co-authored Friending Your Emotions, an illustrated children's book. Passionate husband, father and bodysurfer. Can usually be found at the corner of the Pacific Ocean and Venice Pier.