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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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“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 Zappos.com, 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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Top customer reviews
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The author's solutions rely on a great leap from the current state of social networks -- where a select few influencers in media and celebrity lead discussions and users only communicate in like-minded bubbles--to the idealistic flattened democratic community of open-minded socially conscious global citizens.
Finally, the ultimate solution is a geopolitical nightmare of organized concentrated power which I hope never comes to fruition.
I am a liberal leaning moderate and I found this book unbearable. If you have conservative leanings you will have a mental breakdown reading this book.
Industry experts tell us that social media firms are all about two things - advertising, and harvesting users' details to sell to advertisers. In this way they are more efficient than TV or newspapers, which don't gain back details about their users. So this author's exhorting readers to use more social media, not less, still works out as serving those media and a few wealthy owners, not to mention the makers of the computers and phones used. He doesn't go into privacy issues.
Another book I read recently - 'Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online' by Bailey Poland - told us that some online media sites are horrendously abusive places for women and people of colour or alternative gender. Women were advised to use a man's name when joining a site. If females didn't get outright abuse, they were more likely to have their comments jeered at, ignored or dismissed. This book was largely covering USA.
Quoted thinkers in 'We First' include Jared Diamond, Thomas Friedman, Franklin Roosevelt, Bill Clinton. We are asked questions like, how much is enough to pay a CEO in proportion to what his (not her or their) lowest paid workers get? How many people can the world support? Why should nations like the Maldives pay the penalty for rising sea levels caused by other countries? Younger people, coming of age with phones and tablets, think differently and prefer free or shared to high profit. Experiments show that informed consumers preferred ethical purchases even with a higher price. Cause Related Marketing - support our cause with each purchase - has become popular. But the author tells us that corporations are not doing enough, fast enough. And they are still taking the money from each consumer, not from the CEO's wages or shareholders' profits. When he's just told us that Americans are indebted to 130% of their annual income. The author mentions growing Green Tech companies, and suggests Andrew Savitz's book, 'The Triple Bottom Line', which asks government and private sectors to value people, planet and profit.
The author repeats an astonishing piece of advice. He says in economist Dambisa Moyo's book 'Dead Aid', we are told that rich countries transferring over a trillion dollars in aid to Africa has led only to corruption and greed, causing greater poverty. Instead, the African nations should take to the bond and investment markets. Since I just read yesterday in 'The Black Box Society' by law professor Frank Pasquale that California's Orange County went bankrupt after its treasurer gambled and lost over a billion dollars in derivatives, what chance would Africans have of doing anything but transferring public assets to private, overseas hands?
And there are case studies, like Unilever which aims to have all its packaging come from sustainable recyclable materials, but gets only 15% of its tea and palm fats from sustainable sources. Nestle was embarrassed by Greenpeace over palm oil from deforestation, and the data was spread around social media and petitions. So public pressure - not buying plus protesting - can make a difference. The Body Shop and other firms are ethical from the start. The author looks at Haiti, telling us that there were already 10,000 NGOs - that would mean organisations - working there when the earthquake struck. He doesn't mention the cholera which followed, introduced by Nepalese UN troops.
With suggestions for more transparency, statements like "brands should use social media to inform consumers of how they have embedded purpose into their core," and engaging employees, the author seems sincere in his wishes. Public relations would improve for the brands large and small. He even spells out six degrees of interaction, from friends tweeting each other to people reading and relaying information to people in homes (micropolitics), to people following the CEO's tweets about corporate social responsibility activity. Can purchases in game environments be tapped for donations? Well, why not? There are even games we're told, reflecting the challenges of a third world farmer (that's what it's called) or a world without oil. The WWF explains that we all have to work together to save the world in which we live. We're told they organised roundtable meetings of company bosses and got them to agree on codes for sustainable fish farming.
Despite the frequent lists and bullet points, I didn't find the book wonderfully presented. I think the author makes too much of trying to appeal to industry people who might read the book, without getting straight into the tactics that consumer or conscience groups can use, which are left to the very end. This is probably because he is now an industry advisory speaker. I would have liked more quotes from Greenpeace and fewer from business moguls. I suggest reading the book in conjunction with 'Why it's Kicking Off Everywhere' by journalist Paul Mason for some background on global protests organised by smartphones and social media, and corporate or national delinquency. I saw no mention in 'We First' of trolls, abuse of women or diverse persons, which tend to dissuade decent people from using social media or some platforms. The cynical might say that as a white male, the author has not encountered or has dismissed these issues. I don't know.
Notes in tiny print cover pages 236 - 244. I counted seventeen names which I could be sure were female. The index is tiny print, pages 245 - 250 and I counted nineteen names I could be sure were female, twenty if you include Hurricane Katrina.
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