At nearly 4 billion users, more than half of the world’s population now uses social media to connect with not just each other but also with brands. Needless to say, your social media audience is an extremely diverse bunch of individuals with varied interests, beliefs, and abilities.
To cater to them all in the best way possible, you’ll need to consider inclusiveness in your social media marketing efforts. People expect the companies they do business with to take a stand – in fact, 70% of U.S. consumers say it’s important for brands to take a stand on social and political issues.
But inclusiveness is not just about taking a stand on global issues. It covers a diverse range of subjects, from racial justice and gender equality to content accessibility and hate speech.
In this post, let’s learn more about these inclusivity issues and how you can address them in your social media marketing strategy.
Go Beyond a Corporate Statement With a Social Strategy
A corporate statement tells your audience about your beliefs, but a long-term social media strategy shows them how your brand is taking real action.
It goes beyond announcing a charitable donation and proves that diversity, equality, and inclusion is a long-term commitment for your brand. Create a social media strategy to highlight your employees’ actions and your company’s ongoing work towards more inclusivity.
For instance, if one of your initiatives focuses on internal education and dialogue about racial justice, you can share the activities that your team is doing with your followers. If your team is doing volunteering, highlight their stories and experiences in serving the community.
To go beyond a mere corporate statement about inclusiveness and demonstrate real action, here are a few things you can have in your social media marketing strategy:
- Research how issues like racism and gender inequality impact your industry and create and promote content or resources like books, podcasts, thought leadership, etc. on how to tackle these issues.
- Get your company involved in a movement and frequent volunteering or fundraising activities, and invite your followers to do the same.
- Learn about your company’s past and existing efforts, and build a plan to convey your employees’ stories and actions on social media..
Use Gender-Neutral Language, Emojis, and Imagery
When addressing a general audience on social media, use inclusive pronouns like “they/them” rather than “he/she” and avoid language biased to one gender, such as “mankind” or “guys”.
Also, when responding to comments or posts, do not assume the person’s gender, but instead, address them by their name or username. UN Women has a comprehensive set of guidelines on writing in a gender-inclusive way.
This extends to the emojis you use, too. Avoid gendered emojis if possible and opt for the default yellow emojis when addressing a diverse audience.
Simply put, using non-gendered and default yellow emojis when engaging with a universal audience, or multiple colors of emojis when portraying a broad audience can greatly contribute to creating a strong sense of inclusiveness in your social media presence.
Furthermore, if you use stock visuals in your social media, understand that stock images are often littered with gender and racial biases, and there aren’t many options when trying to source inclusive images.
Use platforms like nappy and Canva’s Natural Women Collection the next time you need a stock image that truly embraces diversity and inclusivity. And when designing any new marketing material (flyers, banners, icons, etc.), make sure to let your graphic designer know that you’re committed to representing diversity and inclusion.
Create Content That’s Accessible to Everyone
While on the subject of designing graphics for your social media marketing, inclusiveness is also about ensuring all your content is accessible to everyone, regardless of their disabilities.
You might already know that having an accessible website is mandatory today, with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) extending to digital properties too. Essentially, an accessible website is one that accommodates all visitors on all devices irrespective of the physical or mental ability of the user.
With an estimated 26.9 million adult Americans claiming they either have trouble seeing or are unable to see at all, if you don’t prioritize accessibility, it’s likely that you’re unwittingly shunning a considerable chunk of your audience from engaging with your content on both your website and social media. Not to mention accessibility is also important to avoid ADA lawsuits, which are on the rise.
To make your website accessible, you can take many steps yourself, such as ensuring logical content hierarchy (with subheadings), adding alt text for all images, adding descriptive labels to form elements, and making your site keyboard-friendly. Making all of these adjustments basically mean to adhere to the ADA compliance guidelines.
For social media, in particular, make sure to create graphics with sufficient color contrast so that the visually impaired can also consume the content. When posting videos, always include closed captions or subtitles.
Also, when posting on Instagram, go to Advanced Settings and then Write Alt Text to add a descriptive alt text for your posts. This way, you make your content more accessible to the visually impaired audience who’re using screen readers.
Remove Offensive Comments
If you haven’t already, sooner or later you’ll receive comments on your posts that are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, or hateful in nature. Such comments that are offensive to any group of people should have no place on your brand’s social media presence.
By not engaging and instantly removing these types of comments, your followers can appreciate your company’s intolerance and firm stance against hate speech. If you are not able to remove comments on some social review platforms, develop a strategy to tactfully respond to such spiteful comments, and demonstrate your brand’s values.
Inclusivity isn’t just an HR initiative that’s limited to your workplace — it should be built into your company culture that extends to all your brand messaging and marketing as well.
Sure, it’ll take some time and effort, but working with your marketing team to create an inclusive social media presence goes a long way in increasing your content’s value, reach, engagement, and overall brand image.