I’m in the midst of potty training my eldest just now. After a really good start he endured a couple of set backs before coming through the other end wiser and more able, so too speak. It’s one of those things all of us go through, although fortunately most of us don’t remember it, I’m pretty sure the people who taught us it do. It can seem a bit intense at times, you only have so much control and your dealing with a person who doesn’t always listen as well as they should. It can be messy and infuriating but ultimately it is rewarding. Now by this point you’re probably wondering where this is going and I’ll accept that as metaphors go this might be pushing it a bit, but it kind of reminded me about social media.

Social media is the next step for most companies in their marketing. Some have been quick learners and have mastered it and understood it rapidly. Others know it is looming, they’ve seen others use it but aren’t sure what to do. And some others just don’t want to know anything about it; what’s wrong with what we’re doing just now seems to be what they are saying. It is our firm belief that social media will play an increasingly important part in the future of media and marketing.

I suppose for a lot of companies what’s needed is someone to show them what to do, to explain why they should do it and to keep encouraging them when they inevitably have a setback. Any company seriously interested in communicating with its customers and peers will need to learn and use social media eventually, it isn’t going away now and will continue to evolve at breakneck speed. Of course like potty training it isn’t just daunting for the trainee, the trainer has to figure out the best way forward too. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, each company is different, they have different needs, aims, customers and messages and these need to be thought through. Proper planning is required before anything begins and a degree of flexibility must be allowed because no one knows what the reaction will actually be until we begin. The learning curve is steep, but it is also short, and once completed it will become second nature, it’ll simply be another marketing avenue at your disposal. You’ll probably even forget you had to learn it in the same way we’ve forgotten having to learn about commercial television and radio once.

To get over any little setbacks we offered a reward, in our case it was a model car from well known film, it seemed to do the trick. The reward for companies is simple; better communication, better customer understanding and, ultimately, better sales.