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New World Consciousness: We First Capitalism

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Simon Mainwaring wrote his new book We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World as a reaction to what he was seeing in the world. "I was struck by the desperate need for change that was evident all around the world." His thesis is that "me first" capitalism is not sustainable, hence the name "we first."

There must be more to our financial and political self-interest. He concludes that we have the ability to force the social change that we want in the world by marrying our economic clout, political clout, and social media. We are doing that already through sharing and concerting our democratic force via Twitter and Facebook.

A recent study at TechCrunch showed that 56 percent of all shared content online is done so through Facebook and about 8 percent through Twitter, although Twitter had more clicks per link. As for email, it is the snail mail of sharing.

There is global democracy now ... at least online. No entity or individual is safe. Consumers from all around the world can express themselves and "socially" and literally vote their pocketbooks.

Twitter moves as fast as the commodity futures market and its internal strategy is to be the pulse of the planet.

If you want to see for yourself, try a Twitter Search and type in "Rep Weiner." Watch how fast you need to update the page as new Tweets and ReTweets will have been sent within seconds of one another.

Rep. Weiner has just suffered a political capital flash crash not seen since the little blue dress, literally and figuratively on Twitter. As if orchestrated for Mainwaring's book release, Rep. Weiner's milieu is a prime example of what bad judgment can look like on steroids when trafficked through social media. We are not in a forgiving environment now.

One way or another, everyone has a social media strategy: either one that they control through their conscious actions, or one via the clients, customers, or constituents who take to the cloud.

It would be a logical fallacy to conclude that since there have been Facebook revolutions that have ousted the leadership in Tunisia and Egypt, and caused severe intestinal discomfort for all in Libya, that global firms should be on the lookout for any divergence between a social consciousness and their global management mandates.

What about Rep Weiner: Will he get ousted and join former Gov. Spitzer on his show? Will he survive the Twitter Takedown?

In government, no longer can politicians just jawbone. In the corporate space, firms should be much more concerned with things far beyond poor pizza delivery and unreliable cable service (redundant, I know). Mainwaring warns that the collective voice empowered in social media should be taken very seriously. "Consumers have a very sensitive BS meter now after the morass of 2008," Mainwaring told me. "Wikileaks is just the beginning of your worries."

Companies and governments are now in reputation-management mode and that comes directly from consumers. We have become day-traders of social emotion. "The challenge for us now is how far we take this."

"The internet has provided us with enough information to know that we all face simultaneous global crises including poverty, child-mortality, clean water, renewable energy, climate change, environmental degradation, to name but a few," he said. "The consumer is your new advertising agency and they run your social media strategy, but there is one catch, however. If consumers do not care enough to leverage their buying power to celebrate brands that act in a socially responsible way and punish those that do not, nothing will change."

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