From Express Ponies to Endless Possibilities

By Ally Maisano | March 11, 2020


When you think about social media, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Funny animal videos? Keeping up with family? Memes for days? I’ll tell you what I think, but first let me take you back to 1860 N.S.M (no social media).


So, you wanted to send a letter from Missouri to California? Thanks to the newly established Pony Express, you were able to get a letter almost 2,000 miles in 10 days. Your letter would be passed from rider to rider, across the country. Just months earlier, this same letter would have taken weeks to complete its journey. Although the Pony Express was revolutionary, technology soon evolved, and the completion of the transcontinental telegraph in 1861 meant that the ponies were out of a job.


The U.S. Transcontinental Telegraph line, a series of wires and glass insulators, allowed messages to be sent and received almost instantly – however, they had to be translated from Morse code, and the message still had to get from the operator to the recipient. The telegraph eventually led to radio, and radio eventually made way for the telephone. With each technological advancement, the gap narrowed. Ideas weren’t limited by distance anymore. You could pick up the phone and talk with someone across the country.


As digital communication became mainstream, we were excited by logging on and hearing “you’ve got mail”. Teenagers were getting instant communication gratification with instant messaging, and chat rooms were poppin’. MySpace allowed you to rank your friends and discover new music. There’s even an argument for classifying Wikipedia as a social network – where people were able to combine their knowledge about any topic. There was definitely an explosion of platforms, but nothing changed digital communication quite like Facebook.


Facebook is a juggernaut. What started as a small social network for college students turned into a social network for the world. Your friends, coworkers, and grandparents use it. Facebook gave us a tool for keeping in touch with our friends, but it also gave us the ability to easily make friends online. Facebook groups are a space where an unlimited number of people with common interests and beliefs can come together. Ideas now zoom around the world instantaneously.


The social network that changed how we do business is LinkedIn. As a Social Media Specialist (now do you see why I love social media so much?), I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the perfect environment for thought leadership. Thought Leaders can share their innovative ideas about how to motivate and inspire people. Thought leadership allows us to discuss why we do things the way we do them, and to share ideas about better ways.


When I think about social media, I think about opportunity. There has never before been a moment in history where connecting with others and the exchange of ideas has been so easy. We tend to always think about innovation, and the next best thing. I think it’s important to remember where we came from, so we can appreciate how far we’ve come. It’s magical that we can influence the world with the click of a button.