Within the last decade, the rise of social media has allowed information to flow freely throughout homepages worldwide. Now, more than ever, knowledge is accessible at your fingertips. The role of social media in grassroots movements has demonstrated the power and positive potential of activism on the most popular platforms.
However, an alternate form of lazy activism, slacktivism, has quickly saturated the online community. Slacktivism, or performative activism, is a watered-down approach to online advocacy in which the impact has little to no real-world significance. The ease and convenience of comments, reposts, and likes have made it simple to become a slacktivist. With just one repost, netizens can feel good about themselves while avoiding directly participating in any social or political change.
As a brand, it is vital to avoid the common pitfalls of slacktivism. Today, social media audiences are adept at identifying inauthentic brand attempts to show allyship.
The term “rainbow capitalism” emerged in the wake of countless brands capitalizing off of Pride Month in June. Famous brands have been known to create pride-themed products while doing very little to support LGBTQ+ communities. In some cases, these brands have directly contributed to funding anti-LGBTQ+ organizations and political candidates.
It’s essential to keep in mind that social media activism is NOT an opportunity to profit from the positive press. Advocacy is not a marketing strategy but a way to participate in social movements to enact real, positive change for the future.
For these reasons, it is essential to avoid slacktivism altogether. We’ve made it easy for you and identified four authentic ways your brand can avoid social media slacktivism.
Read on to learn more about kickstarting your brand’s authentic advocacy efforts online.
1. Promote and represent diverse UGC
In a world where social media is everything, brands must utilize their platform responsibly. Social media movements are powerful – when used skillfully and appropriately on a brand’s communication channels, you can show allyship by uplifting the voices of your diverse customer base.
To make a real impact, brands must re-evaluate what they stand for and who they want to represent. By featuring diverse user-generated content (UGC), you can demonstrate your commitment to amplifying the voices of marginalized communities.
The lack of diversity in large brands’ user base representation is striking. In a world where the majority of represented users online are white, cisgender, and able-bodied, it can be difficult to find representation in online spaces. That’s why promoting and representing diverse UGC on your platform is so important. Your company’s brand can be a part of the shifting narrative towards an inclusive and equitable community online.
When done right, UGC marketing can be a powerful tool for brands looking to make a difference in representation. In addition, promoting UGC can help to humanize your brand and make it more relatable to a diverse consumer base.
2. Show a commitment to charity
While representing diverse UGC is a suitable first step towards avoiding social media slacktivism, it is not the only step you can take to show brand allyship.
There are many benefits of giving back to your community. When your brand gives to charity or works alongside a nonprofit, you will build a sense of purpose for your brand and its employees.
If you’re transparent, your customers will feel great about supporting you because they know they’re spending their money ethically. A recent study on consumer behavior found that it is becoming increasingly crucial for brands to participate in sustainable and ethical business practices. One way your brand can cater to this trend is by working alongside organizations fighting for a more equitable future.
Giving back to your community is vital, but you must ensure that the organization you support aligns with your brand and customers’ needs. Consider what makes the most sense for both! Transparency about your giving will help you maintain the trust of those who follow, showing that you’re pursuing real-world solutions rather than just jumping on trending hashtags.
3. Social listening, dialogue, and education
Another way to avoid the pitfalls of slacktivism is to engage in social listening – that is, paying attention to what people are saying about your brand and the issues you care about online. This doesn’t mean simply monitoring your mentions and responding when necessary; it also means engaging in conversations, acknowledging different perspectives, and trying to understand what your audience is saying.
Additionally, it’s crucial to have an open dialogue with your audience and allow them to hold you accountable – if you make a mistake, admit it and try to do better.
To truly stand behind a cause, you must educate yourself on the issue. Social media can be a great place to do this, but don’t stop there – read books, talk to experts, and try to understand the complexities involved in an issue.
Once you feel confident in your understanding, use your platform to educate others. Share trustworthy sources of information, dispel myths and misinformation, and enable your audience to learn more about the issue. This helps to create a more informed and engaged supporter base that is more likely to take meaningful action.
4. Year-round advocacy
Now that we have the foundations set for developing an approach to authentic brand advocacy, we can move forward and focus on year-round activism. Your goal should be to incorporate advocacy into your brand’s aims and identity. This will show that your brand is invested in the issue and committed to taking action even when it is no longer “trending.”
Don’t limit your brand’s activism to any given month. You should be participating year-round! Use a calendar to develop and execute advocacy strategies, so your actions aren’t limited to a couple days of the year. If you want to avoid slacktivism, your efforts should be continuous.
By taking these steps to foster year-round activism, your brand will be one of many championing diversity, equity, and inclusion online. It is possible to be a part of the solution; you just have to do the work.
Let’s admit it. Despite all good intentions, just clicking “like” or sharing a post requires little effort and commitment. Social media has the power to enact real change, but only when brands use it in thoughtful and strategic ways. By promoting diverse user-generated content, listening to diverse voices, engaging in thoughtful dialogue, and showing a commitment to charity and year-round advocacy, brands can avoid social media slacktivism and work towards creating meaningful change.
We are a marketing agency committed to amplifying the online brand presence of LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and ally communities. We encourage you to book a call for a social media consultation today. Together, we can move mountains!