The United States has been becoming politically divided and angrier for various reasons, in recent years, and it appears as if 2020 has caused this division to only grow. With a poorly handled pandemic that is still ravaging states across the country, outbreaks of protests in the name of the Black Lives Matter movement and a heavily contested presidential race, Americans have become aggravated and are starting to vent their frustration.
For many, this has involved taking social stances where they might not have done so previously. Influencers, affiliate marketers, and regular social media users have flocked to apps like Twitter and Instagram to voice their discontent with what is going on throughout the U.S., all while hoping to create change. In the case of Instagram, it has become a hub for users to spread the word about Black Lives Matter, share statistics related to the reasoning behind protests, and share content from Black creators—to lift up the voices of the unheard.
If you are an influencer and/or affiliate who has yet to jump into content related to social activism, you might be worried. There is an old standard among marketers which states that a brand should never openly discuss politics. Why? Because it is believed that doing so will alienate customers who do not hold those beliefs, and it may lead to lost business.
However, this is false, at least in modern times. More and more people are using social media for political activism, and brands are getting in on it, too. Just look at the marketing campaigns released in recent years by Nike or the core values openly preached by Ben & Jerry’s.
Why does this work when we’ve been told for so long that it never could? Because the companies that push these narratives do it in an authentic way: It is apparent they care about the cause they are supporting, and they are not willing to apologize for the social stances they take. By staying firm in their beliefs, they effectively show the marketplace that they stand behind what they say.
These businesses, and many others, show that you can discuss politics or utilize your platform for the promotion of voices that have historically been repressed.
But how do you go about transforming your platform into a place for activism without it feeling inauthentic? Your social pages can be used to promote the betterment of others’ lives and the world around you, but it will require some planning.
Transitioning your page overnight might be a bit sudden for some of your followers; furthermore, jumping into the deep end of activism might cause you to get lost in what truly matters. If you’re looking to create long-lasting change, you need to begin by addressing small steps, eventually working toward greater goals.
What can this entail? It means taking the time to share and retweet activists who are promoting change in real-time, making donations to initiatives and collectives that are on the ground doing good work, and educating yourself on the topic before you begin speaking like an expert.
In the time of these ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the best thing you can do is become involved. Reach out to people involved in your local chapter and become involved in nearby protests. Amplify voices speaking in support of these communities, who are promoting education surrounding the issues. And, if you are a White person, understand that while you can be an advocate and a supporter, you cannot speak for the lived experience of these people.
Why do these points, particularly the latter, matter? Because you don’t want to position yourself as the center of attention. As an influencer, doing so is going to immediately come across as inauthentic—as if you are solely jumping on a bandwagon for purposes related to clout. Show you care by truthfully becoming involved, putting in the work to support the movement, either by utilizing your platform for them, monetarily supporting them, or physically taking part in the movement; don’t be the person who shows up at a protest to take a photo and then leaves.
Make your activism inclusive.
The best part about promoting activism across social media is the sheer ease of it all—especially during the time of an ongoing pandemic. You don’t have to brave the streets, go door to door, or meet with others to organize; activism can be organized and promoted all digitally.
While this offers ease of entry, you still want to make sure that your content is accessible and inclusive to everyone.
But isn’t it already accessible if someone has a Twitter or Instagram account? How can you make it more accessible and inclusive than it already is?
A helpful truth of life to remember is that not all people share the same access to (what might be considered to be) fundamental tools: education, housing, health care, familial support, racial awareness, etc. So, how do you remain aware of this when speaking to your audience? Use simple language, don’t get hyper-specific, and remain mindful of the goal at hand.
If you’re trying to attract people who are unaware of the causes you support, consider sharing your story of becoming educated. Also, you can provide educational resources that people can use to educate themselves. Further, provide tools that promote social activism related to the actions you are speaking about, including how to register to vote, what organizations to donate to (if possible), and resourceful activist accounts to follow.
You want to create a space where people feel welcome, even if they are unaware of the topics you are discussing. The easiest way to do so is to maintain an approachable, pleasant tone that lets people know you’re here to help, not to push away the uninformed.
To make the most of your social activism, remain true to yourself, be respectful of your audience, and collaborate with others doing the same. If you’re looking to create change through your affiliate marketing content or through your personal social media handle, you can do so by taking the time to plan, ensuring you produce content that shows you obviously care.
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