De-myth-ifying social change

Simon Mainwaring / Brands / 3 years ago

When you approach the daunting task of using social technology to scale social change, it’s easy to see the challenges as insurmountable. While they are significant, what you can dismiss right away are a set of limiting beliefs or myths about imagined obstacles to building a better world. Here’s a few myths I encountered in writing We First that I wanted to expose and share.

Myth #1: Capitalism will never change.
The truth is that capitalism has always changed to suit social, economic and political conditions. Right now it is practiced in dozens of different ways around the world. What causes it to change is new technology and shifts in what people want. Today we live in a world that has both: social technology that is changing business and connected consumers want a better world.

Myth #2: Banks will always win
Almost every major shift in economic, political and cultural practices has been brought about by collective citizen or consumer actions. Just look at the environmental movement, recycling, or the dramatic turnaround in the auto industry that has now become a green tech race. Just as citizens leverage their voting power, consumers can now use their buying power to impact the thinking and behavior of corporations around the world. Especially when consumers reward the responsible companies with loyalty, goodwill and profits.

Myth #3: What I do won’t make a difference
Both how you act on your own as a consumer and how you act with others on the basis of shared values can drastically change our world. A corporation cannot profit without you spending your money on their products. That fact becomes even more powerful when consumers connect and communicate using social media to amplify their message to brands. Then, as more brands respond, others will follow their example. This is already happening with major corporations like Proctor & Gamble, Unilver, Nike, Pepsi and Starbucks, which are taking their social efforts to a whole new level.

Myth #4: I can never keep up with new technology
In fact the opposite is true. When you start has very little to do with technology. Whether you’re an individual or brand you must begin with the simple habits in your own life or business. Then you must share what you care about and how that has affected your behavior. That can be anything from mindful shopping where you consider what brands you support to sharing your views on Facebook and Twitter.

Myth #5: You can’t make money from social media
If you own a company you have to make sure that whatever you do leads to profits. But if you use social media to engage your customers, you can raise your brand’s awareness, grow your online community and expand your customer base in ways never possible before. Now this involves a commitment to engage with your customers and really listen to what they want, but there are great profits to be made and waste to be avoided by actually hearing directly from your customers. The big hurdle is just to see them as human beings with something to say rather than ATM’s.

As we each make our efforts to drive social change on our owen and as a community, we should never underestimate the transformative potentials of collective action aligned around shared values. The great news is that substantive change is profitable for brands as it is meaningful to consumers in the social business marketplace. There has never been a better time to build the world we want.

Do you know other myths that should be exposed? What about limiting beliefs?

4 Comments

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  1. Hi Simon,

    Some really good insights, am quite tempted to buy the book….maybe come payday I’ll treat myself.

    Cheers,

    Matt

    1. Thanks Mat. Hope you do. Thanks for the support. simon

  2. Geri Stengel says:

    We absolutely can and have made a difference in many things. Thank goodness for consumer activists who push companies to be more socially responsible.

    1. Exactly. That is so what we need Geri. Great to have your support. thanks.