Author Simon Mainwaring has written a book ostensibly to discuss how brands and consumers can change the world through the use of social media but instead delivers a lengthy political diatribe that describes how to bring about his version of global social justice.
The social media aspects of this book seem only incidental in Mainwaring's mission to create a global society of activists who "create reputational damage" to corporations using social media. Not all corporations mind you, just the ones he views as not living up to their social, ethical and/or moral contract with all global citizens of the world. This "fairness of rewards" for the global citizenship is a very high ideal indeed, and one that simply cannot be attained until there are equal outcomes for all people on the planet. If this seems like something other than a book about social media and branding then please place a gold star on your forehead and move to the head of the class. When the author sticks to the issue of using social media he delivers solid information but he seems rather stuck on the "why to" employ social media as an activist tactic rather than a "how to" go about using social media the proper way.
From the onset of the book the author tries (a little too hard) to convince us that he is not anti-capitalist but that he thinks capitalism could use a little freshening up or transformation. There is little evidence to suggest that he is anything but anti-capitalist as he then goes on and on (and on) about everything that is wrong with capitalism. It is clear the author stands firmly against capitalism and prefers a system that is more "morally-sustainable, ethically-sustainable" and "environmentally-sustainable." A system that transfers wealth to poorer nations, creates fairness of rewards on a global basis and ascribes to "universal values." He would like to see a world that "more fairly share[s] the spoils of wealth" to cure poverty, address global climate change and make up for unfair use of natural resources. You get the idea. The social media aspects of the book seem to get dwarfed by the call to action for social justice.
The author's prescription for the cure reveals interesting insights about where he is coming from. He offers us Three Pillars of Change that are: 1) Government 2) Philanthropy & NGO's and 3) Corporations/the private sector. It is noteworthy that he ordered these pillars the way he did. He points to the government as the primary driver of social change and makes it clear that he is enamored with executive branch power because of its ability to set and drive the social justice agenda of an entire government. As for corporations and the private sector? Well, the author tells us that they only act on their one-sided self-interest and they simply will not behave the right way unless a global band of activists also apply pressure on them to behave more morally using social media and any other tool at their disposal to create reputational damage to those firms with whom they disagree.
Had the author written [the bulk of the material] about how to use social media to put pressure on corporations so they behave in a transparent and socially responsible manner I think he would have been alright. He could have brought sole focus to the idea that companies simply cannot exist without pleasing their customers and it is up to customers to let companies know what they want and expect in terms of products and corporate behavior. He then could have made the emphasis of the book about how to use social media to achieve this result. After all, if consumers do not like the way a company behaves they are free to spread the word as widely as they can using social media and if there are enough like-minded people these companies will be either forced to change or go out of business because consumers will simply spend their money elsewhere. That, my friend, is what capitalism is all about. I ask you, what company can stay in business by acting exclusively in its own self-interest to the destruction of others without any paying customers?
I believe the author let his own politics get in the way of what could have been a very good and insightful book. He builds his case well and employs great depth in his arguments but missed the boat when he turns to a top-down, coercive, governmental and cooperative corporate/consumer/governmental partnerships approach under the guise of a book about social media which is inherently a bottom-up, grassroots approach.
If you like the idea of a "Happy Planet Index" replacing GDP, the idea that all wealth should be spread equally around the globe and the idea that governments should act in a coercive manner to bring about global social justice then you will love this book. Just bear in mind that you as a consumer using social media to apply pressure to companies are only a minor player in Mainwaring's plan.
If you have doubts about FDR's New Deal initiatives after the Great Depression (mentioned in the book) and other similar types of social engineering experiments or are uneasy around concepts such as global social justice, collective action to bring about fairness in rewards, social transformation and transfer of wealth throughout the global community then you'll have a hard time getting through this work.
It is skewed too much toward political/economic ideology and not enough on branding and social media. When he focuses on social media and corporate responsibility he excels but the message is dwarfed by the global call to action.
~~Review by the author of the e-book, "How to Build and Manage Your Brand (in sickness and in health)."