The topic of diversity and inclusion in social media is a hot-button issue that has been debated for years, but one thing remains clear: it matters.
At a time when technology is becoming more and more prevalent, we must understand how people across all generations perceive and feel about diversity and representation. We live in a world where social media is a huge part of our lives, whether it's staying connected with friends, connecting with people we don't even know, or sharing our opinions. The more we understand about the groups of people who make up that world, the better we can tailor our interactions to them and keep them engaged.
Fortunately, we have some pretty good data to work with. The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2018 that found that younger generations are more likely than older generations to use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.
The same study also found that while older generations tend to use these platforms more frequently than younger ones (possibly because they're used to them), younger users tend to visit these sites more often—and spend more time per visit on average than their older counterparts.
This means that if you're trying to reach your audience through social media marketing efforts, it's important to make sure that your content is appealing to all ages.
Why does it matter?
Being truly inclusive on social media means finding ways to make content both physically accessible and visibly diverse. People want access to content, and they want to see themselves represented in it. Inclusion is important because it makes the world seem smaller and more welcoming. It shows people that their needs are being met and that they're being heard and included in the conversation.
Gen Z won't settle for anything less from the brands they support, because - it matters. This is the modern approach to content diversity; it incorporates representation, and accessibility, and includes all community voices. It's not enough to just create content that includes everyone. It must be accessible as well. This means providing subtitles and closed captions, making sure your videos are on platforms where people can find them easily, creating easy-to-use social media filters that allow users to find relevant content based on their interests or location - the list goes on and on.
Let's have a look at some of the movements related to diversity and inclusion
Many brands are now actively considering racial diversity thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the body-positive movement has highlighted the importance of brands featuring many body types in their advertising. It's time to consider alternative representations as well, such as those of people with varied abilities.
Accessibility and representation are intrinsically related; content must be created to unite groups rather than to marginalize or degrade individuals. Every single person should recognize themselves in the brand, feel that it is speaking directly to them, and feel that it is approachable. The same is true for brands that are looking to be more inclusive. If you want to reach a wider audience, it's important to not only be aware of the people who already identify with your brand but also those who do not.
The result? It makes your brand more human. Putting inclusivity first paints an image of an organization that recognizes the value of diverse representation. It demonstrates how important the entire audience of the brand is.
Whether you intend it or not, if people can't access your content, either physically or emotionally, they won't get your message. And for a Generation like GenZ, this just isn't acceptable. The bottom line is, that you can't just decide to be inclusive. It must be a part of your business model from the beginning. You need to think about how you are going to reach every single person who wants to hear what you have to say, and then make sure it's accessible for them when they do. A good way to start doing this is by making sure that your content has the right language and tone. It's one thing to have an inclusive message, but if you don't communicate it in a way that people can understand and relate to, then there's no point.
It brings your brand to life.
So - how is it done?
The first step is to realize that this is not a fad - or a trend to join in on. It's not going to become irrelevant any time soon, in fact, it's gaining momentum daily. Brands need to go beyond a one-time statement about diversity on social media. As Ed marketers, we should be integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into our social strategies for the long term. To do that successfully, we need to focus on both internal and external steps to ensure the efforts are authentic, sustainable, and helpful.
- Recognize your brand’s role in the bigger picture
- Prioritize representation and diversity from the top down
- Show - don’t tell
- Check yourself - and make sure that you have someone to check you too
- Understand, and appreciate your sphere of influence
What do we think?
The concern here is simple: Brands and organizations will add diversity and inclusion to their strategy in the same way that they do corporate responsibility efforts - so that they can tick something off their to-do list. They will do it because they must, not because they want to. Diversity and inclusion need to be part of your brand’s DNA and should be something that you’re committed to for the long term. Don’t just add this as a social media strategy; instead, include it in all aspects of your business practices and culture. With that said, we’re excited to see brands starting to take steps toward diversity and inclusion. We know that by adding these values into its strategy, it will be able to grow its audience while also being seen as a brand that cares about more than just pushing products.