Before we get started, we want to make it abundantly clear that creating inclusive social media content is not a social media strategy, it’s a value. Unfortunately, due to age-old norms and outdated thinking, there is a drastic case of misrepresentation on social media. So, instead of being part of the problem, be part of a solution. How? This is where we come in…
Social listening is key
Inclusivity involves a strong sense of awareness of what’s going on in the world. You will be more than familiar with your content pillars but do you know what could be affecting your audience? Make it a habit to keep on top of the news, Twitter trends and what’s happening on your feed. Then, see how you can use your platform to support, educate and promote causes that matter.
But, you don’t get to RSVP to the cause and not show up
When the #BlackLivesMatter protests started, social media became fluctuated with black squares to indicate support for the moment. If your brand decided to openly show support for a particular cause or event, it’s more offensive to be on mute for the rest of the fight. So, whenever you speak up about something you believe in, you need to follow through and continue the support in the same way your brand did in the beginning. Ultimately, don’t pose as inclusive if you’re not in it for the long run.
Diversify your imagery
Before you start, let us stop you. This is not about tokenism. This is about the representation of all ages, races, genders and abilities. The Barbie diversity range wasn’t invented to tick a box. This innovation happened as they realised the gross exclusion of their own audience. You have to respect the irony that so many brands will use social advertising to reach vast demographics to engage and follow, yet they don’t represent them. Audit your imagery and ask whether your audience can find themselves.
Monitor your influencer marketing strategy
Influencers are now part of many B2C and B2B brands’ marketing strategy. Influencers of course have to tick the relevant criteria in terms of subject knowledge, following and reputation. However, you may be guilty of adding your own ‘appearance criteria’, subconsciously. Do all your influencers on the list look the exact same? Have you formed a habit of only representing one race, gender or ability? These are the questions you have to ask. It’s time to reflect and correct your unconscious bias.
Your stance must align from your feed posts to your community management
So, your brand’s social advertising content is in a place where you’re not ignoring the world’s events and you’re effectively representing your audience. But what’s that under the bridge? A troll. Just because your social media is more humane, don’t expect the rest of the world to follow suit. You must stand by your content, beliefs and what is right. This doesn’t mean you have to reply to each and every troll, but make it evident you don’t stand by their comments by responding to a few. This will show your audience that you’re serious and this isn’t a performative stunt. Take a look at how GymShark dealt with their trolls and feel inspired.
Own up to your past and shape your future
You must also be prepared to be corrected. Whilst you will get the inevitable troll, you will also be accustomed to respected community members who may wish to amend your content for the better. Brands make mistakes, but it’s what you do next that could seal an unwanted reputation.
Earlier this year, L’Oreal were accused of ‘gaslighting’ (a form of psychological manipulation) after involving themselves in #BlackOutTuesday. In 2017, they dropped their first transgender ambassador, Munroe Bergdorf, after “speaking out about racism and white supremacy”.
Bergdorf, and other users, expressed their disapproval of L’Oreal’s hypocrisy in their involvement of #BlackOutTuesday. The brand’s new president, Delphine Viguier, “apologised for the way the situation was handled”. Munroe Bergdorf later accepted the apology and an invitation to join their UK diversity and inclusion advisory board.
There’s a major lesson to be learnt here. Whilst L’Oreal shouldn’t have made this mistake in the first place, the brand made a conscious decision to do better afterwards. As Berdorf writes, believe in “accountability and progress, not cancellation and grudges”.
This is by no means a conclusive list, there is always more work to be done. But as a simple start, check that your social media content adheres to the above tips and never stop auditing your own work. If your brand is open-minded; willing to learn; and doesn’t stop educating and ingraining more humane morals and values into your brand and workforce, the content should come naturally.