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We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World Hardcover – June 7, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Social media--viral, borderless--is the perfect vehicle to promote "contributory consumerism," and Mainwaring has fascinating suggestions for technological innovation and systemic change…the author's enthusiasm and evidence make an excellent (and counterintuitive) case for big business's ability to make major strides in creating a more equitable world. (Publishers Weekly)

Offers clearly written and well-informed solutions…A must-read for those who want to understand and engage the power and potential of social media to promote a healthier, more equitable world. (Kirkus Reviews)

Few understand the power of brands and consumers better than Simon Mainwaring. In We First he presents a truly compelling vision of how to transform that power to the benefit of society and the good of capitalism. (Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and New Media columnist for The Guardian)

We First lays out a movement to transform corporate America, providing plenty of food for thought for the business leaders of today and tomorrow. (Tony Hsieh, New York Times bestselling author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of, Inc.)

Simon Mainwaring shows how to use social technologies to create and deepen business relationships, which in turn drive profits. Put meaning back into your business by buying this book. Actually, buy two and give one away to someone who is also yearning to take their business to the next level. (Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership and Founder of Altimeter Group)

Simon is the new master of the 'three wins' - for your company, for you customers and for the planet. He shows us clearly that companies that mean more actually make more, turning customers into their most important evangelists. Today, values count as much as value, and Simon shows us how to find, foster and share the best of both. (Steve Hayden, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide)

Simon Mainwaring has a deep and powerful understanding of social media and presents great opportunities to use it for real change. In We First, his approach inspires and empowers both brands and consumers with innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing our world. (Scott Harrison, Founder of charity: water)

Mainwaring is an inspiring leader that truly understands the dynamics in play in the new world of business, online consumer behavior, and how they can collaborate to rethink and rework paths to true global renewal. (Brian Solis, award-winning author of Engage)

We First is more than a must read - it's a must do. Buy it, act it, and most importantly - LIVE IT! (Gary Vaynerchuk, author of New York Times Bestseller Crush It!)

We First is a critical resource for corporate leaders and will inspire consumers, individually and collectively, to recognize their inherent strength. It is an invaluable blueprint for building this new societal structure we so urgently need. (Philip Seib, Professor & Director, Center on Public Diplomacy, Annenberg School, University of Southern California)

Simon Mainwaring puts forth inspiring and provocative ideas on how to transform capitalism into an engine of prosperity. He shows how global brands can become a critical catalyst for creating sustainable capitalism and positive social change. (Dave Hudson, CEO NM Incite, Nielsen & McKinsey)

We First elegantly demonstrates the power of turning me into we by aligning brands and consumers as social collaborators (Peter Guber, Chairman & CEO Mandalay Entertainment)

Simon Mainwaring's transformational opus illustrates that doing good and doing well go hand-in-hand for 21st century corporations. A groundbreaking approach to marketing, We First teaches brands how to tap into a world of 600 million friends and billions of daily personal news feeds by making an impact one person at a time. (Jay Samit, CEO SocialVibe)

We First is as prescient as it is visionary - a must read for marketers and consumers intent on creating a prosperous future for all. (Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer for VivaKi, Publicis Groupe)

Mainwaring shows, with the rigor of an innovation researcher and the passion of a postmodern philanthropist, that capitalism needs not a revolution but an evolution. (Maria Popova, Editor of Brain Pickings)

Nearly a century ago, Henry Ford said, "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business." Simon Mainwaring explores that idea in depth, asserting not only that capitalism and social change should coexist, but giving examples of how they can. (Scott Monty, Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager, Ford Motor Company)

To avoid collapse of the natural resources that support the business activities that human beings are so feverishly pursuing, we must move from the Industrial Age to the Sustainability Age. But how will that happen? We First explains how it is already happening in the new alignment between brands and customers that promises a roadmap to living within the natural means of our Planet Earth. (Rick Ridgeway, VP Environmental Initiatives, Patagonia, Inc.)

Brand promises must be backed up by credible action or they are rendered meaningless in today's social-media dialog. Today's consumer has the power to hold brands accountable. Simon Mainwaring's We First is the ultimate how-to guide for 21st century brand-building. (Robert Tercek, former President of Digital Media OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) & Founder, General Creativity)

It is no secret that our society is being transformed - rapidly, and constantly. Still, most people don't fully understand exactly what is changing or what specific steps must be taken to survive, let alone thrive, in this new age. Simon Mainwaring understands. He knows that every organization needs to dramatically shift how it operates and communicates. He knows that individuals want to have a meaningful, measurable impact on the world. He recognizes that the platforms and channels that have developed over the past few years provide a powerful foundation from which a complete re-imagination of business and philanthropy. In his extraordinary new book, Mainwaring offers his insights and guidance to everyone else. Ignore this book at your own peril. (Brian Reich, SVP and Global Editor, Edelman Digital)

The evolution of capitalism is putting We First. Mainwaring not only gets this, but helps us understand how to make it happen. (Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-founder B Corporations)

We First is more than a call to action, it's a new imperative. Simon Mainwaring makes a very compelling case for how the combined power of consumers and brands will influence business and bring about a new era of social transformation. We First will show you a path to creating a better world. Buy it today. (Valeria Maltoni, author of Conversation Agent)

We First shines an impactful spotlight on the vital importance of weaving socially mindful practices into the DNA of the 'for profit' sector. In today's interconnected world, the time is now for marketers and consumers to assess their role in creating the greater good. (Blair Cobb, Director, AOL Cause Marketing)

Mainwaring has written a comprehensive and engaging account of how we can use social media as a jumping off point to effect positive change not only in the world of business but in our communities and globally as well. We First is a must-read for anyone interested in the field of online marketing, consumerism or the simple desire of making the world a better place. (Liz Heller, CEO Buzztone)

This is exactly the book that the world needs right now. It's our GPS for reaching the destination we must achieve: an intersection of business and consumerism that drives not just big profits but also greater good. (Katya Andresen, COO Network for Good and author, Robin Hood Marketing)

By demonstrating how brands benefit from cause integration, We First lays out a vital and actionable blueprint for how we can scale social change to meet global challenges. By tapping into these powerful private sector forces, Mainwaring shows us how we transform capitalism to create a world we all want to live in. (Ryan Scott, CEO of Causecast)

Simon Mainwaring's insights and recommendations about the power of brands and consumers demonstrate how businesses can enhance the triple bottom line - doing good while making a profit and saving our world. (Beth Kanter, Co-founder Zoetica and author of The Networked Non-Profit)

We First shines a light on how greater numbers of consumers are willing to associate or to disassociate with products and services based on a broader set of understandings - namely, the ethical dimensions of a brand and their implications for our collective future. (Tim Sexton, CEO of Sexton Co.)

About the Author

Simon Mainwaring is founder and President of We First, a brand consulting firm that helps companies use social media to build communities, profits and positive impact. An award-winning advertising creative director, influential blogger and international speaker, he is a member of the General Mills Digital Advisory Board, the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Diplomacy at the USC Annenberg School, Ad Age's Power150 and is an Expert Blogger for Fast Company.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230110266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230110267
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Simon Mainwaring is a branding consultant, author, blogger and speaker. A former Nike creative at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, and worldwide creative director for Motorola at Ogilvy, he is the founder and CEO of We First, a social branding consultancy that helps brands and creative companies use social media to reinvent their industries and our world.

He is a member of the GMI Digital Advisory Board, the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School, AdAge's Power150 and is an Expert Blogger for Fast Company. Most recently he was a guest of the Brookings Institute at the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha as part of their New Media working group and a speaker at the 2010 Cannes International Advertising Festival.

In 2011 Simon's first book entitled We First will be released that presents a new vision for the practice of capitalism, the role of the private sector, and for how brands and consumers use social media to build communities, profits and positive impact:

Simon has received over sixty international awards at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the One Show (U.S.) and the British Design & Art Direction Awards, among others. He studied Law and Fine Arts (1st Class Honors) at Sydney University and lives in Los Angeles. His website is, he blogs at and tweets @simonmainwaring

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Morgan Wells on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A lot of people have dreams of making an impact, and some even offer well-intended suggestions of what needs to be fixed. In his new book, We First, author and branding expert Simon Mainwaring actually shows us how. What I like most about this book is that it provides concrete solutions and plans for HOW to solve problems like world hunger, poverty and disease rather than just a diatribe of wishful thinking. And, what's more, it takes into account the fact that capitalist businesses are out to make profit. Period.

Because Mainwaring acknowledges the necessity of the profit motive rather than deploring it, the solutions he suggests are all the more believable. I mean, what business is going to turn away from big profits to sing Kumbaya? None. However, what businesses will do is pay attention to increasingly strong consumer demand for socially conscious and environmentally sound practices. As We First suggests, social media puts the power back in the hands of the ordinary consumer, and it also gives companies and brands the tools to connect directly with those consumers. So, profit is tied to purpose. Genius work from an expert who really knows what he's talking about in practical terms. This is not only going to be a very important book, but the start of a global movement.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By The Marketing Guy Who Drives Sales -r on November 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Author Simon Mainwaring has written a book ostensibly to discuss how brands and consumers can change the world through the use of social media but instead delivers a lengthy political diatribe that describes how to bring about his version of global social justice.

The social media aspects of this book seem only incidental in Mainwaring's mission to create a global society of activists who "create reputational damage" to corporations using social media. Not all corporations mind you, just the ones he views as not living up to their social, ethical and/or moral contract with all global citizens of the world. This "fairness of rewards" for the global citizenship is a very high ideal indeed, and one that simply cannot be attained until there are equal outcomes for all people on the planet. If this seems like something other than a book about social media and branding then please place a gold star on your forehead and move to the head of the class. When the author sticks to the issue of using social media he delivers solid information but he seems rather stuck on the "why to" employ social media as an activist tactic rather than a "how to" go about using social media the proper way.

From the onset of the book the author tries (a little too hard) to convince us that he is not anti-capitalist but that he thinks capitalism could use a little freshening up or transformation. There is little evidence to suggest that he is anything but anti-capitalist as he then goes on and on (and on) about everything that is wrong with capitalism. It is clear the author stands firmly against capitalism and prefers a system that is more "morally-sustainable, ethically-sustainable" and "environmentally-sustainable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael GreenGold on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
>>>..."We First" is a MustRead Future View, Vision & Think about how the Power of Social Media through Private Sector TeamWork of Brands & Consumers can Use Social Media to Create a New Version of Capitalism (MeFirst to WeFirst), etc. that will establish them as Partners in building a Better World, starting Now / Today!!!...Author Simon Mainwaring has put together 250+ pages of Knowledge, Context & Content that may facilitate the Intellectual & Behavioral shifts that must occur for the entire Private sector to come together as a third pillar of Social Change, working with governments and philanthropic organizations to advance the Well-Being of All!!!...>>> If this is of Interest to You, Your Journey begins Now!!!...
>>>..."We First" opens with a MustRead Dedication, Acknowledgments & Prologue!!!...>>>...Author Simon Mainwaring indicates that the First Half of "We First" / Chapters 1 to 5 examines why we need to change the thinking behind our current practice of Capitalism, while the Second Half of "We First" / Chapters 6 to 10 explains how we go about doing it!!!...
>>>...Chapters 01 to 05.
>>>...Chapter 01 - Transforming The Engine Of Capitalism.
>>>...Chapter 02 - Redefining Self-Interest From Me First To We First.
>>>...Chapter 03 - The Future of Profit Is Purpose.
>>>...Chapter 04 - Creating Sustainable Capitalism In Five Ways.
>>>...Chapter 05 - Instilling We First Values Into Capitalism.
>>>...Chapters 06 to 10.
>>>...Chapter 06 - Why The World Needs A Responsible Private Sector.
>>>...Chapter 07 - How Brands Build Their Business And A Better World.
>>>...Chapter 08 - How Consumers Build Responsible Brands And A Better World.
>>>...Chapter 09 - How Contributory Consumption Creates Sustainable Social Change.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edward Boches on June 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We First is well worth reading, whether you're a company trying to navigate the "End of Us And Them" or an agency or marketer striving to guide clients.

In short, Simon makes three strong arguments. The first is that in an age of consumer control and the ability to support or take down a brand for its misbehavior or bad judgment, all companies should learn to leverage that same social behavior by inspiring positive word of mouth through actions that do good.

Second, the author lays out convincing evidence that consumers are motivated by more than low price. Brands that have integrity, that commit to sustainable practices, whether economic, environmental or social, enjoy higher sales, greater loyalty and more endorsement.

And finally, Mainwaring reminds us that our biggest problems - global warming, hunger, economic disparities, and potable water -- are too significant for governments and NGOs to solve. It's time for business to embrace a new set of values and focus on making contributions of value to society and community.

Simon is clearly not talking about making charitable donations or using superficial social acts as a ploy to generate PR and temporary good will. In fact he condemns the "hypocrisy of many businesses to save with one hand what the other hand has destroyed." The truly sustainable company wouldn't need to write checks because its daily operations would enrich rather than deprive the community.

We would all be better off if business heeds some of We First's recommendations and examples.
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