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How should inclusion and diversity factor into your social media strategy?

How should inclusion and diversity factor into your social media strategy?

Social justice happens on social media. Dynamic and global social channels reach immense audiences and unite people for wide ranging causes. These platforms are powerful avenues for conversation – and people notice when influential brands stay quiet.  

Now more than ever, brands are expected to show what they stand for and express their values through social media.  

Yet diversity isn’t just a fad or a trend you can latch on to in order to boost your company profile; if your brand doesn’t show genuine commitment to these values, trying to enact inclusion on your social media can cause backlash.  

Speaking openly about diversity can carry more risk than, say, CSR activities. It can be challenging trying to understand how to enter this conversation as a brand without mis-stepping and damaging your brand reputation. But addressing misrepresentation isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s also a smart thing to do from a business perspective, and an opportunity that can’t be ignored.

Looking to diversity in your social media content strategy is important – here’s how to do it well.  

Why diversity on social media matters

Considering inclusion and diversity really just means seeing your audience as real people instead of data points.

Think about it – your audience is made up of an elective mix of people, of different races and ethnicities, sexual orientations, and abilities. So it makes perfect sense that your brand would authentically reflect those experiences in your messaging.  

If you’re not maximising inclusion, you’re not maximising reach. Why would you intentionally exclude large segments of your audience?  

There are also positive outcomes in terms of brand loyalty. In a study carried out by Facebook, 59% of consumers said they are more loyal to brands that stand for diversity and inclusion in their online messaging.

Plus, they found that people had better ad recall of campaigns with more diverse representation, versus campaigns with more singular representation. Why? Because people tend to recall ads that feature people that look like themselves.  

On Zavy, a social media brand intelligence tool, we also see posts referencing diversity achieving incredible levels of engagement. When AIG Insurance posted a story about Mia, a member of the LBGTQ community, it was one of their most highly interacted with posts of 2021, receiving more than 411 thousand likes and 2.5 thousand comments.

So, you know you need it – but how do you do it?  

Authentically inclusive marketing

‘Acting out’ inclusiveness and diversity as a marketing ploy isn’t enough. Showing up authentically on social media is important, for the engagement of your community as well as the integrity of your brand.  

On social media, people are savvy enough to see through tokenism. And, they have the tools to respond right at their fingertips. Comments and shares mean your brand can be called out immediately if you don’t get it right, giving you the wrong kinds of social media engagement and driving negative sentiment around your brand.

The key to authentic and impactful inclusivity on social media is staying true to your brand values, which should encompass these principles. Don’t start talking about a cause that has nothing to do with your brand if you just want to jump on the band wagon and be part of the conversation. Only say something if your brand plans on doing something meaningful about it.

Lemonade, a challenger insurance company, is a great example of this. They collaborated with an animator and illustrator to create a beautiful visual video of people kissing, which they shared during Pride month and generated deep engagement and support among their followers. As well as this content, however, they also partner with organisations like The Trevor Project, who provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to young people in the LGBTQ community.

Staying true to your values means knowing when to step into the conversation. It’s fine if your brand isn’t vocal about racial injustice – if you’re an activewear brand, that might not be relevant. But you might be able to speak to body positivity and represent diverse bodies. There are many ways to diversify your content and show inclusivity to people from a range of backgrounds.

Here is an example from Lululemon, which achieved exceptionally positive sentiment:  

And remember that diversity and inclusion can be as simple as challenging ingrained stereotypes.  

Facebook carried out an assessment of more than 1000 global Facebook ads and found that limiting and negative stereotypes of people are still rife in digital advertising. The study showed that women are 14.1 times more likely than men to be shown in revealing clothing. Men are 2.4 times more likely than women to be presented as angry. So, by selecting images of women in comfortable clothing, or men with openly happy expressions, you’re already helping to make the world of social media more diverse.

Commit to diversity and inclusion

Committing to diversity and inclusion also goes far beyond merely making a statement on your social channels.

Increasingly, consumers are questioning whether brands support diversity and inclusion behind the camera as well as in front of it. Producing glossy images of people from a range of backgrounds isn’t enough if you don’t also hire, consult, and support those same people.  

Make sure your team is representative, and if you are representing a culture, gender, or sexuality other than your own, make sure you call in a consultant to make sure you’re on the right track and have meaningful representation of all stages of the content creation process.

Making this genuine commitment to inclusion and diversity will pay off in the brand loyalty and trust you will cultivate among your followers.  

Listen to your audience

You might not get this right the first time – you might not even get it right the second time. The good thing about social media is though, you’ll know very quickly if you’re got it wrong.  

By the nature of social media, people are involved in your content and can give live feedback.

Listen to what people are saying and monitor their sentiment – using social media listening tool like Zavy, you can see what works and what doesn’t, and track the positive impact of diversity and inclusion on your social media performance.

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© Zavy 2021
© Zavy 2021