It’s the question on every brand’s mind: when should brands engage on social media in relation to social movements? This is a complex issue, but the most receptive and effective way to do so is for brands to become resources that elevate the conversation not distract or direct. This includes sharing resources, educating your audience with statistical data and properly sourced information, and showing users the knowledge your brand can provide. It is a hard rope to balance, but we’ve got you covered. Here is a step-by-step guide on how brands can effectively engage (and whether they should).
- Assess Your Role
Before hitting “post,” it is imperative to assess your brand’s role. Social movements are to be handled with delicacy, respect, and insight.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Can my brand provide a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand?
- Are we adding something impactful?
- Does the community impacted want to hear from us?
Brands often speak out in regard to social issues because it is a trending topic, but audiences will see through that. When speaking out, it is important to remember that your brand must walk the walk in order to be seen as genuine. If your brand is uneducated on the topic, we suggest taking the time to conduct an internal training on how your team can better understand the current social issue and come up with a strategic plan on how to approach social issues moving forward.
- Refer to the Experts
If your brand decides they are well-equipped to speak out on social media, the next step is to refer to experts on the topic. Social media is special in that there are thousands of resources at your fingertips, and they are meant to be utilized. It is okay that your brand does not have all the answers, although what’s important is that they listen to people who do. Most of the time, experts will provide ways in which brands should speak out on social media. Whether that be posting links to donation pages, inserting a special hashtag, or sharing a list of resources, those experts are there to disseminate their knowledge so that it reaches the masses, and your brand can be that stepping stone. Another way is to pass your social media off to an expert on the topic. For example, if a brand has a huge following, they can hand over their account to elevate the voice of an expert or leader in the social movement. This shows that your brand wants to make a statement about the social movement but understands that maybe your voice isn’t the one that needs to be heard.
- Choose Your Content
Now that your brand has chosen to speak out on the issue, it is time to choose your content. Content selection, in regard to social movements, is a big decision because it needs to remain appropriate and respectful of the current issue. It is important to note that social movements are not a one-size-fits-all approach. Content that may work for one, may not work for another. For example, sometimes it is more appropriate to “stand in solidarity” with a movement than it is to provide a call to action. Other times, it is not enough to simply show support without providing a way to make change. Refer to brands and organizations you admire and see how they are inserting themselves into the conversation.
- Continue to Grow
There is always room for improvement within your organization. Take the time to develop a robust social media toolkit that includes a set of values, messaging ideas, and active resources your brand can utilize in the future. Conduct research on brands that have been successful in this arena, and assess how that impacts your brand moving forward. Social media is a microphone to the entire world, and it is a special thing to use it for issues that matter. Sprout reports that the majority of consumers believe brands should weigh in on social issues because they can create change, but remember that change does not happen overnight. Take the time to educate your team, learn from other’s mistakes, and listen to those around you. The most successful brands are ones who listen before they speak, and who take guidance from those who know best.
Now that you know how and when brands should engage on social media in relation to social movements, it is time to put these resources into action and create a plan. It is a beautiful thing for people to use their voice for what they believe in, and your brand should be all ears.
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