Your brand exists in a world of diversity, and it’s time for your marketing to reflect this. Focusing on inclusive representation will build stronger relationships with consumers and increase your revenue. The good news is that you already have everything you need to make this happen — the unique individuals in your audience and the content they create.
To get started, review your current marketing content to see which groups aren’t being represented. Once you know who is missing, you can make informed choices about the user-generated content you choose to feature. As the diversity in your creative increases, you’ll form deeper connections with formerly underrepresented consumers and expand your community as more people see themselves represented in your marketing efforts.
It’s important to note that if your company is just beginning to prioritize inclusive representation, you should acknowledge this. Jack Myers, media ecologist and founder of MediaVillage and AdvancingDiversity.org, says, “Brands are challenged if they’ve failed to build a foundation of authentic commitment to diversity and inclusion. Admit lost opportunities, acknowledge new priorities, and commit to transparent accountability.”
Are you ready to make the shift? These three strategies will help your brand attract diverse advocates and expand your audience.
1. Create Social Media Contests to Engage your Whole Community
Create social media contests that encourage users to share their unique stories through posts on social media. A contest helps increase the number of customers who will engage with your brand (while providing free content for you), and the more people who engage, the greater diversity you’ll see represented. One way to do this is to coin a unique hashtag for contest participants to include in their posts, or you can offer the option of direct upload to your site.
Incentivize users to be amazing brand advocates with an appealing offer such as a goodie bag with your bestsellers, discount codes, or a free two-night stay at your hotel. The prize will depend on your industry, and there’s a great option for every brand. The news of a branded contest with an enticing prize will spread far and wide, and this ensures you’ll receive entries from a greater variety of people. Not only will this make your audience feel more connected to your brand and each other, but you will have access to valuable UGC that represents your brand.
You can also create a campaign that speaks to your audience and makes them want to share. Billie, a razor company focused on women, did this well with their campaign #projectbodyhair. Women with body hair are rarely represented in the media, and Billie encouraged their customers to share their body hair pictures and make the internet a little “fuzzier.” It got great engagement and helped widen awareness surrounding the body-shaming women experience for not conforming to conventional beauty standards.
2. Tap into your Existing Community of Engaged Fans
Many customers voluntarily create content featuring your brand without ever expecting anything to come of it. Pay attention to your community and reward quality UGC by commenting on the post or sharing the content. This type of strategic UGC marketing is self-sustaining because the more engaged you are with your community’s content, the more excited they’ll be to continue creating it.
Old Navy’s site home page features its #SayHi campaign gallery, encouraging customers to “say hi” to Old Navy on Instagram and share their fashion with the brand’s community. This strategy organically represents customers from diverse body types, races and ethnicities, and backgrounds by providing them with an easy and exciting way to engage with the brand.
3. Work with Diverse Influencers to Reach new Communities
Influencer marketing is another fantastic way to reach new communities. Remember, diversity isn’t only about ethnicity; it’s about being inclusive of people with disabilities, people included in the LGBTQ+ spectrum, people with different body types and backgrounds, and any underrepresented aspect of everyday people.
Before reaching out to a potential brand influencer, consider the demographic of their following. Does it intersect with the demographics you’re trying to better represent? It’s also important during the influencer discovery phase to do some research to ensure this influencer hasn’t posted any problematic content that contradicts your brand’s values. This type of speech is unacceptable no matter what type of diversity you’re working to better represent and can derail your brand’s diverse marketing initiatives.
As you work to improve the diversity in your creative, always keep in mind that it needs to come from an authentic desire to do better. You should have two equal goals: Increase respectful, diverse representation, and make your brand community feel heard and included.
Bianca Chandler, a motivational speaker, and community organizer shared her experience and insight: “I have been the ‘token’ girl used to prove that a company stands for diversity. Companies should work to capture and showcase people from all walks of life. This new dawning [of diverse marketing] is not as simple as ‘plug and play.’ It will take time and genuine effort to learn from and celebrate all people.”
Melissa Whitten is an experienced content writer with a BA in English. Her writing niches include digital marketing, food & restaurants, and pets. When she’s not working, you can find her hiking in the woods and saying “hi” to every dog she sees. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or read more of her work here.