Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), when integrated into your social media strategy and business, can bring about a world of change in how you connect with people.
Simply put, DEI acknowledges and supports people from many backgrounds by understanding and celebrating diversity. Your DEI marketing strategy isn’t about joining in on a popular trend for the sake of it.
It is an opportunity to add real meaning to your marketing strategy by learning about and understanding your audience, avoiding assumptions and understanding your business’s role in supporting people from different walks of life.
Social media content that’s diverse and inclusive gives underrepresented people a voice. It shows that their stories and experiences are valued and integrated into an organization to create meaningful change.
Therefore, an effective DEI marketing strategy speaks to people from many different backgrounds, bridging race, sexuality, gender, religion, age, socioeconomic status, disabilities and any other relevant differentiator.
Use gender-neutral statements and pronouns
The best way to create inclusive content is to use gender-neutral language in everything from social media posts to responding to comments online. Male-oriented nouns are often the default when speaking about job titles or even human-kind words like postman, fireman, spokesman, mankind, dominate our common vernacular.
When developing inclusive social media content using gender-neutral terms that speak to binary, non-binary and gender fluid members of your target audience give a subtle nod to your brand’s core values around diversity, equity and inclusion without being too on the nose.
Consider using words like partner or spouse vs. husband or wife, instead of brother or sister, consider using words like sibling or family, instead of spokesman or the terms we mentioned in the above paragraph consider using spokesperson, salesperson, police officer and humanity instead.
Replace words like men and women with people, or boys and girls with children. You can also consider using terms like, people who identify as women or people who identify as men. Lastly, unless you are writing about an individual whose gender you already know, consider using they/them/their pronouns instead of he/him/his or she/her/hers.
Use inclusive imagery
The use of imagery in your social media content is another key way to build connection and shatter stereotypes. When selecting images for your social media content be sure to use images that show diversity in ethnicity, gender, identity, age, religion and/or abilities as relevant to your audience. Next, look at what roles they have in your imagery. Does the imagery conform to harmful stereotypes? Or does it break stereotypes and help support and represent people and communities in a real way?
Research your target audience and avoid making assumptions
Creating more inclusive content should always start with market research. Many companies don’t spend enough time or research understanding their target audience which can turn into a major communication crisis once your ad or social media campaign is in the market.
In addition, larger firms often hire one or two “diversity hires” to represent the community they are looking to market to, but this can also cause an issue because communities are not monolithic. The only true way to understand a community and the culture of communities is to spend time doing the research and bringing several employees and or partners to the table to make sure you are being as inclusive as possible.
Remember being more inclusive doesn’t start and end with your social marketing campaigns or content, it must also be represented in your team, your contractors and vendors. Are the needs and values of your target audience shared by your team members? If not, what can you do to create a more diverse team?
Learn to talk about DEI in the workplace and on social media
Effective company diversity and inclusion initiatives should start first in the workplace, before any content is developed. It’s important that employees, colleagues and/or team members are first educated about what DEI truly means and then dive into DEI-related topics that are relevant to either your business or the lives of your team members.
Be sure to hire a consultant, agency or diversity and inclusion advocacy group to help develop and facilitate your initiative if you are unable to hire and bring this position in house.
If your workplace has already done the above, but you haven’t seen a lot of changes within your approach to social media marketing consider the following:
- Create a game plan. In your next social media status meeting with your direct supervisor, mention that based upon the company’s new DEI initiatives you’d like to begin to include more diverse and inclusive images in your social media campaigns. If you don’t have any initiatives, it is still worth mentioning. If you work for a larger company, where there is a Creative Director or lead graphic designer, consider running your idea by them first to get their feedback and buy-in. Perhaps you can even begin to discuss resources for imagery, etc. prior to your meeting
- Create sample posts. Demonstrate how these posts will appear and discuss when you will post them. If these posts are a sharp departure from the company’s typical social media content, be sure to discuss how you’ll measure success of these posts and your approach to community management.
Tip: Put your best foot forward with your content–create videos or engaging compelling content that still is inclusive and diverse. You want to give your new initiative the best opportunity for engagement and conversions as possible.
- Test, track performance and repeat your efforts. Talk with leadership, colleagues and your team about the performance you’re seeing on your social media channels. Use this information to refine your approach.
The Importance of a Diversity and Inclusion Social Media Campaign
While DEI in business, media and almost all other facets of society is essential for challenging biases and stereotypes, it is also a potent driver for business growth and resilience.
Consumers today care about a business’s stance on social issues and its actions to support social change. According to the Inclusive Marketing Research report conducted by Microsoft Advertising, 70 percent of Gen Z consumers trust and prefer brands that embrace diversity in their ads.
Businesses that use more inclusive ads also see a 23 percent increase in purchasing intent from Gen Z consumers, while 59 percent of consumers trust brands that represent the consumer in ads.
Research studies also show that by the year 2044, the majority demographic will be what is referred to as the “minority-majority,” the combination of Hispanic, Black, Asian and mixed-race Americans. Businesses that effectively embrace DEI in their operations and marketing can play an integral role in creating social change by helping to overcome employment and income disparities, challenging harmful stereotypes and supporting social change, while also securing the longevity and relevance of their brand.
The USA’s demographic shift means that diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives will become everyday practice and businesses that do not get on board could be left behind.