Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet, and it’s no surprise they expect to see themselves represented in marketing content. But, it’s not only the newest generation that cares about inclusive marketing. 61% of Americans think diversity in marketing is important, and highlighting more diverse faces and voices in ads can have a positive impact on your ROI. 38% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand that shows diversity in their advertising.
Diverse content has to actively avoid tokenism to be authentic. It takes more than just searching through stock photo libraries to find images of underrepresented groups. Instead, try these five tactics to make your next marketing campaign more diverse with inclusive content.
1. Work With Diverse Influencers
Stock photo libraries have been notorious for their limited portrayal of the full spectrum of races and identities. With the rise of user-generated content (UGC), marketers no longer have to rely on the limited options offered by stock photo platforms. One of the best ways to generate authentic UGC is through influencer marketing For marketers who want to collect and share more diverse content, pursuing relationships with influencers who represent and engage with a wide range of communities, backgrounds, and voices is a great place to start.
Focus on building relationships with influencers and don’t just reach out to them to check a box or give the impression of inclusivity. Treat your influencers like partners you can learn from instead of just a marketing tool, and ask them how to best reach their audience in a way that is authentic. Be transparent about your commitment to sharing diverse faces and voices to make sure influencers don’t feel that they’re being treated like a token representation of their community.
2. Create a Genuine Brand Community
Getting feedback from your customers is a highly effective way to get insights into how your products are performing and how your brand is perceived. But, it can be hard to collect and analyze comments if your brand doesn’t have a program or process for generating feedback. Create a brand community for your customers to invite conversation in a more accessible environment. You can survey customers about potential products, get their opinions on marketing tactics, and ask for constructive feedback about ways to improve. You can use these personal connections to determine where and how your brand can incorporate additional diversity and inclusion.
By creating a community of customers and potential buyers, you can foster relationships and engage in conversations that go beyond the comments section on social media. With a strong brand community, you can also invite users to share their own user-generated content in the form of photos, videos, and reviews. Tap into the influence of your brand’s existing fans and turn them into passionate brand ambassadors. Highlight their stories to show the diversity of your audience through an authentic lens, and give them a place to share their feedback and experiences.
3. Include Your Current Customers
Your existing customer base may be more diverse than you realize. Instead of guessing about which communities may be unrepresented in your marketing campaigns, work from the bottom up with your customer base. Look at the demographics of your audience and analyze your customer data to highlight voices and experiences that are not represented in your current marketing. Invite your customers to get involved by sharing their own content through social media contests, visual reviews, and via your brand community. These strategies will naturally amplify the voices of your community, and help you identify what groups may be lacking representation.
Let your customers tell their stories — highlight real experiences in ads, on social media, and through targeted campaigns. Showcasing UGC from your audience not only brings more diverse voices and experiences into your marketing, but it also provides social proof and helps generate conversions. 84% of consumers trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising and word-of-mouth marketing generates more than 2x the sales of paid advertising.
4. Pass the Microphone
Social media takeovers give brands a chance to show their personality. Holding a takeover can make your brand more approachable and transparent. During a social media takeover, someone other than your social media manager (employees, influencers, or brand advocates) will run the account for a predetermined period of time (a few hours, a few days, etc.) This usually aligns with a big announcement or new product launch. It can also be a way to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at your company that’s more open-minded than your usual branded content.
To humanize your brand, give your employees a chance to step in front of the camera and share their stories. Make UGC a core structure in your marketing strategy and website to show how real people are using and interacting with your product. Highlight some of your most loyal brand advocates to recognize your customers and let them share their experiences with your brand and products.
5. Talk to Real People
If you’re committed to making diversity and inclusion a priority in marketing, talk to the communities that you recognize are underrepresented in your content. Survey people in your target audience to get their input and feedback. Conduct focus groups to help you develop content and review content once it’s created. Don’t waste time guessing what images and language are going to resonate authentically with your target audience when you have an arsenal of customers who can share their thoughts
By including more diverse voices and experiences in the planning and approval process, you go beyond just trying to use diversity as a marketing tactic. Start by consulting the communities you want to represent and then build your campaigns and strategies based on what you learn.
Creating diverse campaigns as part of a commitment to lasting change starts with engaging real people and understanding their stories. Then, use that information and feedback guide your strategy. Partner with influencers and listen to your audience while amplifying content that addresses their concerns. Connect with people and communities in your target audience to make sure your representation is authentic and respectful.
These changes aren’t a one-time thing; use consistent strategies to interact with your brand community and make it a priority to diversify your campaigns genuinely.
This article originally appeared in the Pixlee blog and has been published here with permission.