Building a Diverse and Inclusive Social Media Presence

Building a diverse and inclusive social media presence - #TwitterSmarter chat with Troy Sandidge - December 3, 2020

One of the biggest problems on social media is the lack of diversity and inclusion. While there are many active campaigners for the cause, there are an equal amount of brands that unconsciously exclude groups and aren’t readily diverse. That’s why, this week, we invited marketing strategist Troy Sandidge to talk about how businesses can build a more strongly diverse and inclusive social media strategy. We discussed the importance of being inclusive and how to deal with non-inclusive brands.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Troy Sandidge
Topic: Building a diverse and inclusive social media presence
Format: Eight questions directed at them guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What does it mean to be diverse and inclusive on social media?

“Diversity” and “inclusion” have long been buzzwords people throw into conversations. That’s why Troy started off by decoding the words and explaining why they’re necessary in today’s world.

Diversity refers to the various physical and mental qualities, personalities, and characteristics that exist in our society. Whereas inclusion refers to people’s ability to recognize these differences, appreciate, and respect them.

As our guest explained, when you see and hear the diversity in our societies, when you’re consciously aware of its presence, with a keen interest in learning more, you are truly inclusive and become a valuable part of society.

In business, diversity and inclusion don’t end with adding a few diverse people in your teams or in social media banners. From the way you represent yourself to your audience, your message, tone, choice of words and images, to the way you engage with your online community, diversity and inclusion should be inherent in the way a business runs.

All of that, though, just means that you should be a decent human being, as Alyx from Charlie Appel Agency put it. Remember that social media is an open forum and that everyone has the right to voice their opinions and cheer their favorites. When you treat everyone with the respect a human being deserves, you’re genuinely inclusive.

 

Q2: Why is it important for a business to be diverse and inclusive on social media?

It’s important because your social media should reflect who you are. Every business has a team of culturally, morally, and individually diverse people. When you represent that in your social media voice, you’ll also be able to attract such a diverse audience to be part of your online community.

As Laura pointed out, no business should alienate any of its audience. If you do so, not only are you excluding a part of the population, but you’re also offending another major part of the population who will lose respect and interest in you.

 

Troy also shared a checklist you need to keep in mind when you execute your social media strategy. It’s a list of do’s including:

  • Using gender neutral pronouns.
  • Making sure your icons, images, and emojis are diverse and inclusive.
  • Deleting or reporting offensive comments.
  • Interacting with, replying to, and retweeting diverse individuals and groups.
  • Showcasing multiple perspectives on a range of topics, such as facilitating expert discussions.

Q3: What happens when a business isn’t inclusive on social media?

As Laura said in the previous question, if you’re not inclusive you’re excluding too big of an audience that it’ll hurt you in the end. Our guest also explained that when you single out someone, they will no longer resonate with you. When that happens, they’ll stop supporting you, which leads to a decrease in community engagement and eventually revenue.

Christine added that being exclusive would affect your brand image so badly that it signals to your current audience that you don’t care about them enough to deal with inclusion and diversity as an important topic. No one wants to support a business that won’t prioritize them.

Q4: What are some ways to incorporate inclusiveness in your social media activities?

One of Troy’s top tips is to encourage your customers and clients to share content. Also called User Generated Content, it includes testimonials, photos of your product or service, hashtags they’ve created, fan activities and merchandise—everything that your audience would create online to show how much they support your business. It’s also a great way to ensure your content covers a broad range of topics and people. Some other options are polls, Q&A sessions, surveys and customer feedback.

Our friend from Biteable also mentioned a few more great ways to be inclusive on social media, such as:

  • Use alt text every time you upload images. This helps people who are visually impaired to understand what your image is about. It also helps convey your message faster when the page is slow to load.
  • Stick to simple, legible font.
  • Use camel-case in your hashtags. This means that when you use two words or a phrase as a hashtag, you capitalize the first letter of each word to make it easier for people to understand your hashtag. For example, #ThisIsACamelCaseHashtag instead of #thisisacamelcasehashtag.

Q5: Share some tips to make your marketing campaigns diverse.

Troy’s suggestions include active listening, reviewing previous campaigns to identify and rectify any lack of diverse and inclusive content, and cross-verifying meanings of your hashtags. If you have the means, you can also collaborate with other brands who are closer to the audience you want to reach and the message you want to convey, to avoid future misunderstanding and misinterpretations.

As Amanda said, it’s crucial for your audience to see themselves using your products or services. That’s why representation matters. Consider this every time you choose images and videos for your social media. The more diverse audience you represent, the more people will be able to relate to you.

Madalyn and Troy added that diversity doesn’t end with gender and ethnicity, it also extends to location, culture, and ability based diversity. After all, you can’t create a sense of representation in an Asian by featuring a third generation Asian American in your ad. Their experiences will be entirely different from an Asian who’s just migrated to your country, or someone sitll living in Asia.

Q6: How do you know if your social media strategy is diverse enough?

Feedback is everything, as Lindah explained. Ask people from a range of different backgrounds to review your content and strategy so that you have multiple perspectives to tell you when you’re not being inclusive.

It’s also a good idea to self-reflect. Scroll through your profile, as Madalyn suggested, and see how you’ve been doing. It’s a great way to identify patterns of exclusion that you didn’t notice before. Then fix it right away.

Q7: How can you call out a non-inclusive business without starting an argument?

It’s important not to seem like you’re attacking the brand. Defensive behavior will only create friction and unnecessary arguments. Instead, as Troy suggested, try sending them a direct message first. You can also involve others in the conversation to explain to the business how the can improve, instead of bluntly accusing them of wrong doing.

Jake shared some excellent examples of how you can interact with a brand to show that they’re exclusive without being rude. Ask nicely and make suggestions. As an audience of that brand, you can request what kind of content they should publish. Use that opportunity to nudge the brand that they need to be more inclusive.

Have the right intention when you’re calling out a brand. Don’t assume that they are intentionally exclusive. It’s possible that they didn’t even realize they’d made a comment that excluded you or a specific group. That’s why it matters that you try and educate them.

That said, if you’re a business, it’s your responsibility to educate yourself and your team about being inclusive on social media. We all have unconscious biases sometimes, but what makes us humans is our ability to see past those biases and not let them define who we are. The more conscious we are about being inclusive, the better we will all become as human beings.

Q8: Name some brands that do a great job of showcasing their inclusive culture.

Our friend from GiveWp shared Twitter’s Diversity and Inclusion dashboard. It’s a great example of a brand being transparent of their hiring policies and admitting to how far they still have to go, despite coming a long way.

Lance shared some more brands including Apple, McDonald’s, Gap, and our very own Madalyn.

Our guest also commended Dove and Nike in a previous tweet.

The important thing about being diverse and inclusive on social media is that not everyone gets it right the first time. And that’s ok as long as you’re open minded and willing to change your biases. That’s what makes a brand successful.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more great insights from our chat with Troy, have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together. And if you have some time to spare on Thursday, come join us for the next #TwitterSmater chat at 1pm ET.


About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

Say hello: Personal blog | LinkedIn | Twitter

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