Chances are, in your marketing plan, you know what personalities you’re trying to appeal to with the content and social media marketing efforts you make. You probably also know the age range, gender, and key economic demographics. It’s vital to go into marketing with a target audience in mind. However, it’s equally vital to ensure you’re not excluding key members of your demographic by overlooking the importance of inclusion and representation.
For example, in the fashion industry, models have often been white-presenting, tall, and thin. This has changed a lot in recent years with increased demand for models who look like those buying the clothes. The increase in fashion blogging – with representation from many different communities – and pressure placed on designers have helped to break the ice, and now when on Glamour’s website, readers see plus size models and models from every race and ethnicity gracing their posts.
When people see people, who look like them using your product or benefitting from your service, they are much more likely to purchase those products or services. Companies embracing inclusion quickly gain an edge over competitors.
What Does it Mean to Be Inclusive?
Inclusion and representation may imply race, gender, or culture to others, but those aren’t the only ways that people can be diverse. Marketers should also be aware of age, disability, socio-economic status, sexuality, employment type, and even geography when they create content and campaigns. Is anyone who might otherwise be interested in what your company offers being somehow excluded from your marketing materials? If so, it’s time to change things up.
Diversity and Inclusion Begin with Your Team
Having a diverse workplace is vital – especially when it comes to your marketing team. By ensuring representation of a variety of perspectives on your staff, your company is bolstering inclusion across the board, including in your marketing efforts.
Hiring freelancers or a marketing agency is another way to help ensure your content is inclusive. Outsourcing to others can help with diverse marketing efforts that may not be affordable in-house.
Be Careful with Pronoun Use
Always use an individual’s preferred pronouns and gender-neutral pronouns in your content. If you aren’t sure of what gender pronouns to use – ask. Be aware of how many times “he” or “she” is used on a given website. Some might use the singular “they” when creating content to signify inclusion of both genders.
Be Aware of Your Stock Images, Artwork, and Photos
Visual representation and inclusion are just as important as inclusion in content. Stock photos, artwork, and photos used by the company should illustrate a variety of individuals in a variety of situations. It’s good to make sure that you’re embracing diversity there.
Also, be very careful with stereotypes. Do not match an image with a headline that may convey a stereotype. You risk alienating your audience rather than including them. Don’t forget that women are doctors, lawyers, and software engineers too. Men are stay-at-home dads, nurses, and early childhood educators as well. Depict people of color in a range of setting and avoid images that stereotype individuals. Be sure to include images of individuals who have disabilities.
Always remember, people want to see themselves with your products and using your services.
Quote and Use Examples from a Variety of Sources
When you use quotes in your content or illustrate a point with an example, it’s important to make sure your sources are diverse. This will help bolster inclusion in your content, and it helps you to foster relationships with others who may be key resources for your company. By ensuring a range of examples in your content, you can also ensure that everyone in your company’s key demographic audience is represented at some point – either by an expert talking directly to them or through using an example that others can relate to.
Ensure Content is Accessible
Accessibility is another key component of creating inclusive content. Make sure that what’s on a screen is easy to read, hear, interact with, and understand. Keep sentences shorter, be sure you make use of alt-tags in your images so that screen readers can describe what individuals are viewing, make sure any links you insert into your content are described properly. Be sure any video content uploaded has captions and/or subtitles available.
Know Your Company
If your company has fallen short in the past when it comes to creating content that appeals to a diverse audience, be honest with yourself and your team about that. You can change that pattern, and you can move forward. It’s important to acknowledge where you’re at in issues of inclusion and representation so that you know where you need to go and what strategic objectives you should create for your team’s efforts. It will also help you benchmark your progress toward creating more inclusive content. Perform a content audit to see where you’re at – what pronouns have you used? When people appear in images, who are they? Could someone feel excluded from your company based on your examples? Is your website accessible? Create a new content plan based on your findings.
Knowing Your Audience Helps You Help Them
Any time you’re working with marketing, especially content and social media marketing, it’s vital that you know your audience and understand what they need to read. There’s always a balance between casting your net wide enough to catch all those you need to appeal to for your company to be successful and to grow and ensuring that you’re specific enough in your marketing efforts to weed out those who are not ideal customers or clients. Making sure your content marketing efforts are inclusive adds a third dimension to this balance, but it will go a long way toward helping to draw in those who might otherwise bounce off your site thinking “this company isn’t for me as a customer.”
Be an Advocate for Inclusivity and Representation
Listen to the feedback you receive from your market. Apologize immediately if you’ve made a mistake or if an employee has made comments that don’t sit well with people. Take the steps necessary to build a platform of inclusion and representation in your company. Your efforts will be far more rewarding than just boosting your bottom line. They will go a long way toward making for a more pleasant company to work for.
Ronda Bowen – Content Creator
Want help with creating inclusive content? EnVeritas Group can help you manage your content marketing strategy. Reach out to us today to find out how.