We First: How the Private Sector Uses Social Media to Scale Social Change

I had a chance to meet Simon Mainwaring a couple of weeks ago and I was inspired by his vision for how brands can harness the power of social media for social good. His new book is called We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World. In opposition to the “me first” mentality that has informed so many business and consumer practices, We First lays out a new plan for how we can buy and sell what we want and need but also build a better world. In doing so, We First explains in detail how companies use the latest in social, mobile and gaming technologies to build their brand communities and profit while also having a positive impact. There are three stages to the We First plan.

Stage One: A Third Pillar of Social Change

We First looks to a new partnership between brands and consumers connected by social technology. For their part, brands get to enjoy the goodwill, loyalty and profits that result when they engage with consumers in ways that are meaningful to them. And they also suffer damage to their reputation by consumers using social media when they don’t act in socially responsible ways. For their part, consumers enjoy the benefits of corporate social responsibility initiatives, cause marketing, and the integration of purpose into for-profit business strategies and models of companies that together help build a better world. On the strength of this partnership, brands and consumers form a third pillar of social change in addition to government and philanthropy.

Stage Two: Contributory Consumption

Build on inspiring concepts like 1% for the Planet, Product(RED) and SocialVest, We First introduces the concept of contributory consumption. The idea is simple: a small proportion of every dollar spent on a product or service should go towards being a contribution to a pressing social issue.

Yet We First extends this concept across five levels. The first is retail and includes the billions of purchases that are made each day around the world. The second is credit cards transactions that also number in the billions every day. The third is mobile purchases, which are rising dramatically, and the fourth is e-commerce as people increasingly make their purchases online. The final level, and perhaps the most exciting, is social gaming in which people buy virtual goods to use in their games, a small portion of which serves as a contribution to a social issue.

Stage Three: The Global Brand Initiative

The third stage looks to the creation of a federation of brands called the Global Brand Initiative dedicated towards sustainable and large-scale social change. As an extension of the shift we already seeing in today’s marketplace with more brands and consumers acting in socially responsible ways, the GBI looks to engage the entire private sector in the same way. Small, medium and multi-national brands would bring their expertise, leadership, training capacities, intellectual property, R&D, and bricks and mortar infrastructure to bear on the most pressing problems challenging our planet. In short, it’s designed to bring the best of the private sector into the social change space without also inviting its worst excesses.

Seen together, a third pillar of social change comprised of brands and consumers, along with the concept of contributory consumption, and the foundation of the Global Brand Initiative, represent the foundation of an incredibly exciting new vision for the role of the private sector that would allow us to build our businesses and profits and dramatically scale social change. We First helps us better understanding the future of business, branding, and social technologies. It is realistic, practical and I highly recommend clicking here to order your copy now and sharing the link with as many people as you can. This is a book that business and the world needs now more than ever.

You can order We First here, join the We First Facebook community here and follow Simon Mainwaring @simonmainwaring.

Congratulations Simon and best of luck!

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