Find out how to Go Past the Hashtag

Social media activism is now not non-obligatory, particularly for bigger manufacturers. Customers, staff, and social followers all count on your model to take a stand on points that actually matter.

What is social media activism?

Social media activism is an online form of protest or advocacy for a cause. Because hashtags play a central role in mobilizing movements on social media, the term is often used interchangeably with hashtag activism.

Activism on social media includes promoting awareness of social justice issues and showing solidarity through the use of hashtags, posts, and campaigns.

Genuine social media activism is supported by concrete actions, donations, and measurable commitments to change.

Without genuine offline action, using a hashtag or posting a black square or rainbow flag comes across as opportunistic and lazy. Critics are often quick to call out these minimal efforts as “slacktivism” or performative allyship.

Brands should tread carefully: More than three-quarters of Americans (76%) say “social media makes folks assume they’re making a distinction once they actually aren’t.”

Alongside the identical traces, when an organization participates in social media activism that doesn’t align with its previous or current actions, it could actually immediate backlash and calls of advantage signaling, greenwashing, or rainbow capitalism.

We’re about to dive into 10 methods to have interaction in significant activism on social media. And, in fact, we’ll present loads of social media activism examples the place manufacturers acquired issues proper.

Nevertheless it actually all boils all the way down to this:

Phrases are simply phrases, and hashtags are simply hashtags. Sure, they’ll each be extraordinarily highly effective. However for manufacturers, particularly these with important market share and sources, actions communicate a lot louder. Social media activism should be accompanied by actual world motion.

Take heed to credible voices engaged on the trigger. Study from those that have well-established experience within the motion. And decide to working in the direction of actual change.

Find out how to use social media to authentically assist a trigger: 10 suggestions

1. Pause and assessment your social calendar

The very first thing to do earlier than participating in social media activism – whether or not you’re responding to a direct disaster or starting a long term marketing campaign of activism and allyship – is to hit pause.

Overview your social calendar. In the event you use a social media scheduler, you may need to unschedule upcoming posts and save them for later. Overview your content material calendar to see how issues align with the stance you’re about to take. In the event you’re responding to a disaster, you’ll seemingly need to keep targeted on the trigger at hand.

Customers do need manufacturers to reply in occasions of disaster. Greater than 60% say “manufacturers ought to acknowledge moments of disaster of their promoting and communications when they’re occurring.”

Within the wake of the Uvalde taking pictures, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays paused their social media recreation protection and as a substitute used their social channels to share details about gun violence.

They went all-in on this, not holding something again.

Whereas your common content material is on pause, take the time to study what’s occurring past the headlines so you possibly can take a significant stance adopted up with concrete motion.

That motion part is crucial by way of garnering assist on your activism reasonably than backlash.

Earlier than returning to common programming, take into account how your campaigns and content material will resonate throughout the bigger context.


  • Attempt to revenue out of your assist. Social actions aren’t advertising alternatives, and prospects will name out actions your model takes that seem motivated by something apart from good religion.

2. Take heed to your prospects (and staff)

It’s regular for feelings to run excessive throughout social justice and human rights actions. However these in-the-moment spikes can result in long-term adjustments in how folks really feel and behave – and the way they count on corporations to behave.

70% of members of Technology Z say they’re concerned in a social or political trigger. And so they count on manufacturers to hitch them. Greater than half (57%) of Gen Z says manufacturers can do extra to unravel societal issues than governments can, and 62% say they need to work with manufacturers to deal with these points.

However the 2022 Edelman Belief Barometer discovered shoppers don’t assume manufacturers are doing sufficient to deal with social change.

Supply: Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer

Use social listening to higher perceive how your viewers is feeling. Understanding the broader perspective permits you to categorical empathy and solidarity with unfavourable sentiments, then rally your viewers round constructive sentiments with sturdy calls to motion.

This might embody rallying followers to share messages, signal petitions, or match donations. Generally it’s so simple as acknowledging how folks really feel within the context of social upheaval, resembling Aerie’s ongoing advocacy for psychological wellness – on this case, actually giving followers instruments for combatting nervousness and enhancing psychological well being.


  • Dismiss feelings or police tone. Individuals usually have respectable causes to really feel what they really feel.

3. Be trustworthy and clear

Earlier than posting something in assist of a trigger, replicate in your firm historical past and tradition. That may imply wanting on the range of your groups, re-evaluating non-environmental practices, assessing the accessibility of your advertising, and extra.

Whereas troublesome, it’s necessary to have trustworthy inner conversations about firm values and adjustments chances are you’ll have to make. In the event you’re not trustworthy, you’re going to have issues with social media activism.

Admitting previous errors is the primary solution to present that your organization means what it says. Be upfront about something that goes towards your present place. With out doing this, your social activism will ring hole—or worse, hypocritical. It might additionally immediate folks to name you out.

Disney initially stayed silent in response to Florida’s “Dont Say Homosexual” invoice, sending out an inner e-mail of assist for LGBTQ staff reasonably than making a public assertion. That shortly grew to become an issue for the corporate, because the hashtag #DisneyDoBetter took off and staff, creatives, and followers all shared their considerations concerning the weak stance in addition to the corporate’s earlier donations to supporters of the invoice.

Inside a number of days, Disney needed to acknowledge its mistake and make a prolonged public assertion.

Manufacturers can both maintain themselves accountable, or be held accountable. However don’t really feel it’s worthwhile to be excellent earlier than you possibly can take a stand. For instance, more than half of staff say CEOs ought to publicly communicate out about racism as quickly as the corporate has its personal racial fairness and variety targets in place, with concrete plans to satisfy them.


  • Cover inner points and hope nobody finds out about them – or conceal behind inner communications. Inside emails can shortly go public when worker considerations aren’t addressed.
  • Be afraid to be trustworthy. Prospects admire honesty. However Edelman discovered solely 18% of staff belief their firm’s head of DEI to be trustworthy about racism throughout the group. In case your staff can’t belief you, how can prospects?

4. Be human

Humanize your communication efforts. Individuals can and do see via inauthentic conduct.

Overused phrases and punctiliously calibrated language are likely to make firm statements look templated. (Ideas and prayers, anybody?) Be thoughtful in what you need to say, however throw out the company jargon and canned content material. Be actual.

Edelman discovered that 81% of respondents to the 2022 Belief Barometer count on CEOs to be personally seen when speaking about work their firm has finished to learn society.

When then-Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier spoke out about voting rights, the corporate posted his feedback on their social accounts.

Sure, this can be a assertion that has seemingly gone via legal professionals and different company messaging professionals. Nevertheless it’s clear and doesn’t maintain again. And Frazier has repeatedly confirmed his means to unite enterprise leaders in social motion. He’s talked about his values and the way the problems on which he chooses to take a stand align with company values.

He instructed the Albert and Mary Lasker basis that when he stepped down from President Trump’s Enterprise Council after the President’s remarks about occasions in Charlottesville, he spoke to the Merck board about whether or not he ought to current it as a strictly private determination or embody point out of the corporate.

“I’m very proud to say that my board unanimously mentioned, ‘No, we truly need you to talk to the corporate’s values, not simply your private values,’” he said.


  • Simply say what everybody else is saying. It wants to come back out of your firm.
  • Fear about key phrases, irrelevant hashtags, or algorithms. Say the appropriate factor, not the best rating factor.

5. Make your stance clear and constant

If you do share a message in assist of a trigger, make sure that message leaves no room for ambiguity. Don’t depart folks asking questions or filling within the blanks for you.

The gold customary for clear model positioning comes from ice cream model Ben and Jerry’s. They’re constant and vocal of their assist of racial and social justice.

Customers need your stance on necessary points to be clear before they make a purchase. Which means taking a stand in your social content material and adverts, but in addition in your web site, so the message is constant when somebody clicks via to study extra or purchase.


  • Attempt to have all of it or do all of it. Communicate to the causes that matter most to your model and your staff, so that you may be constant and genuine.

6. Share how you’re taking motion

Individuals need to hear how manufacturers are tackling points past social media.

It’s one factor to put up a message in assist of Ukraine. Nevertheless it’s motion that actually counts. Greater than 40% of shoppers boycotted companies that continued to function in Russia after the invasion. On social, each #BoycottMcDonalds and #BoycottCocaCola have been trending in early March, till the businesses lastly ceased Russian operations.

Present that your organization is definitely taking motion. Which organizations are you donating to, and the way a lot? Will you make common contributions? How is your model truly doing good inside communities? What steps are you taking towards a extra moral manufacturing course of and provide chain? Be particular. Share receipts.

For instance, when Dove launched its #KeepTheGrey marketing campaign to attract consideration to ageism and sexism within the office, the model donated $100,000 to Catalyst, a corporation that helps create extra inclusive workplaces.

And when the make-up model Fluide celebrated Trans Day of Visibility, they highlighted various trans fashions whereas committing to donate 20% of gross sales in the course of the marketing campaign to Black Trans Femmes within the Arts.


  • Make empty guarantees. Edelman’s 2022 special report on business and racial justice discovered greater than half of Individuals assume corporations aren’t doing a superb job assembly their guarantees to deal with racism. In the event you can’t reside as much as your guarantees, you’re higher off to not make them within the first place.

7. Guarantee your actions replicate your organization tradition

Much like level #3, apply what you preach. In case your model promotes range on social media, your office needs to be various. In the event you promote environmentalism, it is best to use sustainable practices. In any other case, it’s not social activism. It’s performative allyship or greenwashing. And folks discover: Twitter noticed a 158% increase in mentions of “greenwashing” this 12 months.

A method to make sure your activism aligns along with your tradition is to decide on causes that connect with your model goal. The truth is, 55% of shoppers say it’s necessary for a model to take motion on points that relate to its core values and 46% say manufacturers ought to talk about social points immediately associated to their business.

For instance, the sexual wellness model Maude has an ongoing marketing campaign selling inclusive #SexEdForAll.

Providing actual requires motion and donating a proportion of income from their Intercourse Ed For All capsule assortment, they work in partnership with the Sexual Data and Schooling Council of america (SIECUS) to advertise inclusive intercourse schooling.

That mentioned, your model goal could not have an apparent connection to social causes. That doesn’t imply you possibly can choose out of the dialog.

when can brands speak about social justice issues bar chart

Supply: Twitter Marketing

Accountable company tradition needs to be firstly about doing the appropriate factor. However know that over time, it should truly enhance your backside line. Various corporations are more profitable and make better decisions.

Plus, practically two-thirds of shoppers – and practically three-quarters of Gen Z – purchase or advocate for manufacturers based mostly on their values. They’re willing to pay more for manufacturers that do good on the planet.


  • Take too lengthy to comply with via on commitments. Your prospects are watching and ready.

8. Plan for good and dangerous responses

Earlier than your model takes a stance on social media, put together for suggestions.

The goal of social activism is commonly to disrupt the established order. Not everybody will agree along with your place. Prospects could applaud your model, whereas others will likely be crucial. Many will likely be emotional. And sadly, some commenters could also be abusive or hateful.

Manufacturers taking a stand within the face of the overturning of Roe v. Wade confronted abusive feedback on their social posts.

Profit did all the appropriate issues on this put up by stating the actions they have been taking, displaying how the trigger associated to their core values, and linking to companions who’re consultants within the work.

That mentioned, they nonetheless confronted feedback that may very well be very triggering for his or her social staff to see coming in, particularly anybody impacted by their very own abortion or fertility experiences.

Anticipate an inflow of messages and equip your social media managers with the instruments they should deal with them. That features psychological well being assist—particularly for many who are immediately impacted by the motion you’re supporting.

Contemplate the next do’s and don’ts:


  • Overview your social media guidelines and replace as wanted.
  • Clearly outline what constitutes abusive language and find out how to deal with it.
  • Develop a response plan for ceaselessly requested questions or frequent statements.
  • Be human. You may personalize responses whereas sticking to the script.
  • Maintain related coaching periods.
  • Apologize for previous actions, when vital.
  • Adapt your technique for various audiences on completely different social media platforms.


  • Disappear. Stay current along with your viewers, even when they’re upset with you.
  • Delete feedback until they’re abusive or dangerous. Don’t tolerate hate.
  • Be afraid to confess that you simply don’t have all of the solutions.
  • Make it the duty of your followers to defend their fundamental human rights.
  • Take too lengthy to reply. Use instruments like Mentionlytics to maintain monitor of messages.

9. Diversify and characterize

Variety shouldn’t simply be a field your model checks throughout Satisfaction month, Black Historical past Month, or on Worldwide Girls’s Day. In the event you assist LGBTQ rights, gender equality, incapacity rights, and anti-racism, present that dedication all year long.

Make your advertising inclusive. Construct illustration into your social media style guide and general content strategy. Supply from inclusive inventory imagery from websites like TONL, Vice’s Gender Spectrum Collection, and Elevate. Rent various fashions and creatives. Keep in mind that almost each motion is intersectional.

Most necessary: Take heed to folks’s voices reasonably than merely utilizing their faces. Shayla Oulette Stonechild isn’t solely the primary Indigenous international yoga ambassador for Lululemon, however she’s additionally on the corporate’s Vancouver-based committee for Variety, Fairness, and Inclusion.

Open your platform as much as takeovers. Amplify distinctive voices. Construct significant relationships with a broader group of influencers and creators. You’ll seemingly develop your viewers and buyer base consequently.


  • Stereotype. Don’t forged folks in roles that perpetuate unfavourable or biased stereotypes.
  • Let abusive feedback go unchecked after spotlighting somebody. Be ready to supply assist.

10. Maintain doing the work

The work doesn’t cease when the hashtag stops trending.

Decide to ongoing social activism and studying. Proceed educating your model and your staff and sharing useful data with social media customers who comply with your model.

Champion the trigger offline, too. Carry out non-optical allyship. Search for methods to assist long-term change. Grow to be a mentor. Volunteer. Donate your time. Maintain preventing for fairness.


  • Consider model activism as “one and finished.” One supportive put up isn’t going to chop it. In the event you’re going to wade into the waters of digital activism, be ready to remain there for the long run.

Schedule messages and join along with your viewers on social media utilizing Hootsuite. Put up to and monitor a number of social networks from one dashboard. Attempt it free at present.

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