The We First Blog.

Tell to Win: Purposeful storytelling for social media success

March 1, 2011 Comments

Social media is easily mistaken as an end in itself rather than yet another tool in our arsenal to connect emotionally around shared values through powerful storytelling. When it comes to effective storytelling, there is probably no better expert than Peter Guber.

Peter has written a book called Tell to Win that lays out the critical first principles of purposeful storytelling that are too often overlooked in social media strategies and commentaries today. I had the opportunity to sit down with Peter and ask him for some key insights on how to communicate persuasively, whether it’s through an Oscar-winning film, international brand, or revolutionary product.

Here are some of the thoughts that Peter shared which he expands on in Tell to Win:

▪   Brands are in the emotional transportation business. The goal is to transport your mission, cause, purpose and value proposition. That’s when the magic happens because your community pays it forward.

▪   The role of purposeful storytelling is to unlock people’s emotions so they can connect to your story and brand.

▪   The focus of emotional transportation is the hearts of your audience, not their heads.

▪   Few people remember facts, figures and data. Research on memory shows that you can remember details of things much more effectively when they are embedded in a story.

▪   When you bond information with emotion, which is the catalyst in every story well told, the information is then experienced, ingested, emotionalized, and thus recalled and acted upon more effectively.

▪   Purposeful stories have a goal, a call to action that tellers want their listeners to do.

▪   Purposeful storytellers must engage the listener(s) in a dialog. Telling purposeful stories is interactive. It’s not a monologue. Ultimately, purposeful tellers must surrender control of their stories, creating a gap for the listener(s) to willingly cross in order to take ownership. Only when the listener(s) own the tellers’ story and make it theirs, will they market it for you.

▪   It is not the digital 0’s and 1’s of state of the art technology that move your listener(s) to action, but connecting the teller and listener through the ooh’s and aah’s of your story, your state of the heart technology. State of the art technology will always be in service to state of the heart technology.

▪   Without purpose a message is like an empty calorie. It doesn’t have any inherent value.

▪   The true power of purposeful storytelling is to unlock the full potential of you as an individual and your business.

▪   The power in telling a purposeful story makes the purpose – the object of the story – emotional rather intellectual, and aspirational rather than inspirational.

With my background in traditional advertising I cannot tell you how important these insights are to creating emotional connection to brands and between customers through purposeful storytelling. I highly recommend buying Peter’s book as an actionable distillation of the insights that allow social media strategies and tools to be used to their greatest effect. In doing so, you can unlock the full potential of an individual, career, cause or brand.

How important has storytelling been in your social media strategy? Do you agree that its importance is too often overlooked?


The We First community: Where social technology meets social change

February 28, 2011 Comments

Image: Luke Stettner

The We First concept refers to the intimately connected global community that we now live in. But it also refers to a community of  brands, cause-marketers, social entrepreneurs and regular people all around the world who have individually committed to driving social change. Every individual effort deserves to be celebrated because each serves as a permission slip for others to do the same. And only by working together can we hope to achieve the scale of positive change we need to meet the challenges we currently face with equal force, whether they be poverty, child mortality, clean water, renewable energy, climate change or damage to the environment.

So moving forward, that’s what the We First blog will do. Each day I’ll give a Twitter shout out to a different member of this community of people thinking and acting in a We First way. Each week there’ll be a more in depth post about a company, community or individual effort that is remaking our world. And as often as possible I will interview change makers to share what they’re doing and how they are achieving effective results.

What such We First behavior looks like will vary. It may be an app that allows people to contribute more easily such as with SwipeGood.  Or a celebrity who is using their popular appeal to enlist the support of their legion of fans around a cause like Alicia Keys. And, of course, it will include brands that are demonstrating an authentic commitment to social change in alignment with their core values such as Pepsi, Starbucks, P&G, Nike or Wal-Mart and many exciting newcomers.

We find ourselves at a unique, historical moment at which social technology and social change are intersecting in a way that allows us to scale our response to many global crises.  My hope is that we all share these tweets and posts to amplify the recognition and support for each company or person that is mentioned. We are smarter together, more creative together, and more effective together than we are alone. By uniting around these change-agents, by connected around our shared values, by creating a community that motivates others to join them, we can build a more prosperous and sustainable world for all.

What brands, entrepreneurs or individuals do you think demonstrates a We First worldview? How do you think we can support them?


MC Hammer on how brands use social media to build communities

February 23, 2011 Comments


Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the Gravity Summit at UCLA where MC Hammer received the award for Social Marketer of the Year. As a celebrity brand on twitter (@MCHammer) that has amassed over 2 million active and engaged followers, and he now speaks all around the world about how brands use social media to build communities. He is also deeply engaged in philanthropy supporting several causes including:

▪                American Red Cross (

▪                Feed the Children (

▪                Train the Troops MMA (

▪                LA Net (

▪                Victor Pineda Foundation (

In his short speech he provided insights into several specific topics including:

▪                How brands reinvent themselves using social media

▪                The evolution of social media in recent years

▪                The challenge of convincing brands to use social media

▪                The difference between creating relevance and influence

He was very generous with his time and  served as a powerful demonstration of how you need to invest time and interest in your audience and communicate authentically with them. I hope you enjoy the video.



What brands must do now to engage their customer communities

February 20, 2011 11 Comments

There’s an adage that is an apt description of the new dynamic at work between brands and consumers connected through social media: People support what they help to build. But now that many brands are launching community-driven cause marketing campaigns, …

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Social Photos: When a picture is worth 140 characters

February 16, 2011 2 Comments

Over the last weeks we have witnessed the peaceful demonstration in Egypt that overthrew President Mubarak’s regime. In the last few days we watched the protests it has inspired in Yemen, Iran, Bahrain and Algeria. While I have written about the contributory …

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Exactly what role did social media play in the Egyptian revolution?

February 13, 2011 25 Comments

The January 25th revolution in Egypt was an incredible achievement by its people and a truly inspiring example of the power of peaceful protest. Yet the work towards an effective transition to democratic government within Egypt has just begun. Meanwhile …

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Groupon’s Superbowl: Social media (C)PR

February 10, 2011 14 Comments

Much has been written about Groupon’s PR missteps at the Superbowl over the last two days. Their three ads (representing a $3 million ad buy) poked fun at celebrity-endorsed PSAs for endangered whales, the Brazilian rainforest, and Tibet. The ads were variously described …

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EdRover: Using social media to fast track public school education

February 7, 2011 27 Comments

As powerfully demonstrated by films such as Waiting for Superman and Race to Nowhere, the U.S. public school education system is in desperate need of greater support and new thinking. A mother of three young boys, Tania Mulry, 37, has …

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About We First (Sidebar)

About Simon Mainwaring

We First training and consulting helps the world’s most innovative brands tell the story of the good work they do in ways that build their reputation, employee productivity, sales and social impact.

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