Is Your Business a Force for Good?

As Anthony Weiner resigned yesterday, ensnared by his sexting scandal, it’s easy to forget that people often use social media networks to express deeply held values. A new book, We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World, (Palgrave 2011) argues businesses can tap the power of social media to transform ordinary corporate philanthropy into passion for their brand, and attract many more consumers in the process.

Author Simon Mainwaring is a former Nike creative at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, and worldwide creative director for Motorola at Ogilvy, and founder of We First, a branding consultancy. Mainwaring is among those who argue corporations need to build purpose and values into their business practices and partner with consumers on social causes.

Mainwaring believes social media are the tool for doing this through what he dubs “contributory capitalism.” Companies could make a philanthropic donation from every single transaction and use social media to share and track those transactions with total transparency. Imagine, for example, consumers scanning a barcode with a smartphone app that shows them how that single purchase will result in charitable transactions–say a dollar contribution to each of three corporation-supported charities–with a data picture updating how much has been given.

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