I remember when my oldest son went off to college. He was like a kid in a candy shop (or a chocolate factory if you prefer). So much to see, so much to do, so many new experiences to be experienced. And he was one of those kids who was bound and determined to do them all. Join a club, play a sport, go to a keg party, watch a football game, date a college girl, smoke a cigar (well, whatever)...
After all, you have to strike while the iron is hot. There is no way to know what is important and what is not. No way to separate the valuable from the frivolous. No shortage of opportunities. So you forget about everything you learned during the previous 18 years, throw caution to the wind and attempt to do everything. Most if not all of us have been there - if not as parents, as students. You should never doubt what no one is sure about.
I bring up this story as a way to point out the impact that the Internet and interactive marketing and social media are having on businesses today. It's all new and novel. The possibilities and opportunities are seemingly endless. You can do this and you can do that and it costs less and it works better and it makes your feet smell like a fresh strawberry bubblegum.
And so, many companies are diving head first into the deep end of the chocolate river. They want it all and they want it now. Blogs and widgets and viral videos and facebook accounts and email campaigns and optimized web sites and widgets and twitters and everlasting gobstoppers.
After all, if you are not the first to the front of the line, you run the risk of being second or worse (wait for it) last. It doesn't matter if you are not sure what you are doing, let alone understand it. What matters is that someone else is doing it and you can not afford to not do what ought to be done. A little nonsense, now and then, is relished by the wisest men.
Like college, the Internet is real. And it offers tremendous opportunities to those who embrace it and use it wisely. My son was very lucky. At some point during his sophomore year he got tired. Tired of being up all night. Tired of being broke. Tired of having to clean up after his buddies. So he retraced his steps and reacquainted himself with some of his old habits. Then he integrated them with some of his new knowledge. And he moved on.
His college career was a great success and his professional career has been even better.
As for companies indulging themselves on all the goodies, temptations and treats that the Internet has to offer, I offer a bit of advice that my father (not Willy Wonka) gave me often: "All things in moderation." Go slowly, test the waters, take some risks, measure the results, learn as you go and maintain a balance.
We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.