Today, if you’d like to, you can hop on a plane and fly from New York to San Francisco and back.  The process of crisscrossing the country has become so automatic that it’s easy to take it all for granted.

But if you’ve read up on Lewis & Clark (or played the Oregon Trail), you know how daunting America’s westward expansion really was.  In the 1800s, our maps were still being drawn by hand, and our railroads, highways and airports were but a distant dream.

Yet, every time another covered wagon arrived at the Pacific coastline, word was sent home: “It can be done!”  And the more the pioneers succeeded, the more others wanted to follow in their footsteps — especially because doing so became both easier with experience and more cost-effective with demand.

Not long ago, social media was the same way.

Ten years ago, we had no Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.  The Internet was still considered a fad.  Blogs were a revolutionary concept.

Getting companies to buy into social media was an uphill battle.  Concepts like transparency, connectivity and conversations with the public were seen as potential threats to financial stability, rather than assets that could actually improve business.

Today, as the social marketing field grows and matures, getting started is becoming ever easier.  The maps have been drawn.  The studies have been conducted.  The pioneers’ wagons have crossed the rough terrain and now the towns they’ve built at the edge of the water are booming with great expectations.

If your company hasn’t explored the world of social media yet, now you can learn from the successes (and failures) of thousands of brands who’ve gone first.  These pioneers have figured out what works and what hasn’t (yet), and many of them are selflessly sharing their own experiences to help others find their way.


Because those boom towns need new arrivals in order to keep growing.

If your competition is succeeding in social media, they need you to succeed alongside them.  When an entire field or industry embraces new technologies, it increases general customer awareness while simultaneously driving down entry costs.  And when everyone is on the same page, disruption becomes innovation and everybody wins.

Simply put, the better you do at social media, the better we all do at social media.

So here’s to you, and to your co-opetition.  May you all keep redrawing your maps until you find the best, fastest, most scenic and most effective routes from where you are now to where you’d all like to be.