The We First Social Branding Seminar was great fun and a huge success. We had the pleasure of spending two days in the rooftop ballroom with over 140 brands including folks from Coca-Cola, Disney, AOL/HuffPo, and TOMS.
In so doing the sponsors, attendees and We First we able to support over 40 non-profits to be there as a small way to support their incredibly important work that covers everything from cancer research to child literacy to ocean clean up.
We’ll be holding the Seminar again (date to be announced) and if you’re interested in attending, just visit www.WeFirstSeminar.com now and enter you details so we can send you the information first. In the meantime, here’s a few pics from the event.
So if you are interested in joining us for the next We First Social Branding Seminar, visit www.WeFirstSeminar.com now, enter your email and we’ll send you the preview information first. We’ll post pics from Day 2 soon.
In a truly dramatic demonstration of the power of citizen activism, Iceland drew up its new constitution using crowdsourcing in late 2011. Following Iceland’s complete economic collapse and bankruptcy due to irresponsible banking practices, the nation was eager to use social media to get its citizens involved in writing their own future. The initiative began with a national forum in which 950 people were randomly selected to spend a day discussing a new constitution. A council then began working to draft a document, but not in secrecy behind closed doors. Instead, its meetings are open to the public and streamed live on its Facebook page. The council posts each new draft clause on its website where the public can comment. The council also has a Twitter account and a YouTube page where it exhibits video interviews with its members. The draft constitution was put up for a national referendum, with no changes allowed from the country’s parliament. It is truly a constitution written by the people for the people.
Reading about this process, I could not help but think about how the connectivity unlocked by social media is transforming our world. It is radically altering the major institutions and fundamental paradigms of society. Just a short while ago, it was perceived as a shallow medium through which people could share trivial information. Companies used it as just another one-dimensional vehicle to broadcast self-directed advertising. Then the more savvy corporations recognized the interactive power of social media to engage their customers, and we began to see two-way conversations built around asking the public for their ideas.
Social media proved equally, if not more, disruptive in the political arena. We saw how youthful activists achieved historic change in the Arab Spring revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt, relying on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to spread their message of protest, organize demonstrations, and communicate the reality on the ground with the outside world. Last summer’s rioters in the United Kingdom used smart phones and social media to ignite flash crowds of disenchanted youth and, sadly, opportunistic criminals, as well as to mount peaceful protests and clean up after the rioters. Finally, we see Iceland using social media and crowdsourcing in admirably organized and peaceful ways that radically redefine the meaning of citizen democracy.
It is now undeniable that social media—and the democratizing force it brings with it—will continue to reweave our social and political fabric. Functioning independently of traditional media and the hardened institutions of government and business, we will increasingly see social media bypassing the traditional channel of authority and hierarchy that formerly restricted citizens and customers. The tools of social media are creating new opportunities for social dialogue, and inspiring a reformation in the values of the past. They are also helping to break down the structures and processes of every institution, slowly distributing the powers of governance, justice, representation, innovation, and even production among connected people.
Where will this social media revolution take us? Anything is possible, subject only to the limitations of our imagination. We are currently seeing many interesting new applications of social media and crowdsourcing. For example, there is the growing model of social production that draws on networks of people connected by social media to create new products and services. There is the burgeoning movement of social entrepreneurship whereby people motivated by a common desire to solve a pressing social problem that the corporate world is yet to satisfactorily answer put out an open call for assistance. Anyone with knowledge of the problem and its solution can respond, and in return they receive no compensation other than the personal satisfaction that they helped build a better world.
In the coming years, I am certain we will see social media be used increasingly to redefine the corporate world such as by influencing Boards of Directors, annual shareholder meetings, and the transparency and accountability offered by companies for their products and services. It will likely change how people look for jobs and how they evaluate the companies and CEO’s that they wish to work for. It will, no doubt, infiltrate many more areas of government just as it has in Iceland, impacting how laws are written and voted on in local, state and federal government.
What’s important to keep in mind when we think about the future is that social media enables all parties to have a platform. Given this, we can use this technology poorly to launch a cacophony of voices creating a chaos of competing interests – or we can use it as a tool to unify our voices as thoughtful, compassionate beings seeking to build a better world for all humankind.
Do you believe social media will build a better world? Do you think it has already begun to do so?
No book could be more important or timely than Who Cares Wins by David Jones of Havas. There is a growing awareness that the business revolution brought about by social media is bringing with it an equally transformation in the way brands deal with their customers. And while the currency that marketers trade is still emotion, the relationship dynamics between brands and their customers has dramatically changed.
Who Cares Wins explains in detail the drivers and best practices of this new dynamic. Jones does a masterful job of explaining in very clear terms, why business success in the future will be driven by the authenticity, transparency, and accountability of brands and their ability to react quickly and consistently with these three qualities. In fact, he makes a compelling case for why the successful brands of the future will be those that are most meaningful in the lives of their media-savvy and socially connected customers.
On the flipside, Jones explains why those brands that ignore the impact of social media and these new customer expectations do so at their peril. In only the last few months we’ve seen the consumer push-back against Netflix and Qwikster, against the Bank of America Debit Card Fee, on Bank Transfer Day, against the Verizon Online 2$ payment charge, and most recently the backdown of Congress over SOPA in the face of online activism.
So what Jones is talking about in this book is not conjuncture, wishful thinking, or projection, but rather a business reality that is already here. As such, he rightly positions social responsibility as an invaluable opportunity for brands to build their bottom lines while also becoming a force for good in the world. In order for this shift to gain traction and pace, large brands and entrepreneurs need case studies and proof points to justify their shift in priorities and practices. Who Cares Wins provides this in spades, and rightly positions this shift in the marketplace as one of great opportunity, rather than cause for concern. No doubt this is an educated risk that every business leader must take, and that spirit is captured in the title “Who Cares (rather than ‘Dares’) Wins.” But the risk of not engaging with this shift in business practices is far greater. Who Cares Wins is your guidebook on how to negotiate the social business marketplace in a way that builds your business and a better world for all.
On Wednesday, the first We First Social Branding Seminar begins. Our team has prepared an event that we believe will be truly unique and valuable to the success of the brands that are coming. But that would not have been …Read more
I had the pleasure of speaking at the San Diego Ad Club last week after Dan Burrier, the Chief Innovation Officer at Ogilvy and my former boss on the Motorola account. Not only is Dan a friend and someone I greatly admire, but he said …Read more
We’re now in the final week of registration for the We First Social Branding Seminar and I wanted to share some thoughts as to its real value to your business. There are so many conferences and training events to choose from, …Read more
I wanted to share this video with you that features David Kirkpatrick, the author of The Facebook Effect, talking about the impact of social tools and technology on the way consumers and citizens around the world are demanding change. He does …Read more
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I’m sharing the epilogue to We First in which I reference famous words from his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech that still ring true today. Economic equality was an important part of …Read more
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