As society increasingly values diverse and inclusive media representation, brands recognize the opportunity to connect with diverse audiences. However, many struggle to authentically execute inclusive social media campaigns that resonate with their target demographics.

Amidst the growing prominence of diversity, businesses, brands, and individuals are actively exploring ways to practice diversity and inclusion. While this trend is encouraging, inadequate attempts at diversity, or attempts that fall short, are still prevalent.

Campaigns that use harmful, pandering stereotypes will alienate an audience and hurt the brand. Enter: tokenism. The definition of tokenism from Merriam Webster states, “Tokenism is the policy or practice of making only a symbolic effort (as to desegregate).” The main objective of tokenism is to avoid criticism. Tokenism is an artificial impression of concern about something. In diversity and inclusion, this takes the shape of plugging in representation just to have it, instead of making a conscious effort to be inclusive of underrepresented groups. Tokenism does not empower People of Color or champion diversity and inclusion.

So it follows in social media marketing; recruiting one Black influencer for your Instagram feed just to check it off your list is considered tokenism. Consumers trust brands that highlight diversity and want to see a more authentic representation of LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). 

Authentic representation of diverse communities widens marketability to demographics that have been ignored before. Abandoning tokenism and embracing genuine inclusive marketing is beneficial for both the consumers and brands.

Tokenism is an incredibly tricky subject.black-woman-stands-alone-because-she-is-left-out-in-social-media-brand-content

It might seem like there’s a fine line between inclusivity and tokenism, and in many ways, there is. Companies that race forward without consulting a diverse team many times end up with a failed campaign.

Race, culture, and ethnicity are highly personal, and miscommunication can lead to costly media mistakes. No company wants this to happen. So, what’s the solution?

How can companies effectively embrace bona fide representation?

The first step is acknowledging that there is no place for tokenism in social media marketing. The BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities bring more to the table than skin color, sexuality, or gender. True diverse and inclusive marketing understands the importance of highlighting character, personality, and talent above all else. 

To avoid tokenizing in your social media marketing strategy, remember that diversity shouldn’t be treated like a trend you can hop on to get more views. We’ve seen more and more brands begin to add BIPOC individuals to their campaigns. This is a significant first step, but you must continue to strengthen these relationships.

It’s also a good idea to look at your strategy and determine whether you’re actually being inclusive or taking actions only because you feel like it is an obligation. Chances are, if you reach out to an Asian American influencer to meet a quota and not based on their creative skills, you’re not being authentic in your inclusivity.

Do you understand your Diverse audience?

Inclusive social media marketing is more profound than who you show in your visuals. It’s not enough to just plug faces in; you have to understand them. Brands without a plan are at risk of inauthentic messaging. Even if it’s not intentional, it can be hurtful. Not just to consumers but to your brand reputation. You have to embed diversity into your plan the right way, or it will fail. Many times that will require an expert in diversity and culture. This leads to the second step – consult with experts to authentically execute a diverse and inclusive marketing campaign that gives LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities a voice without offending. 

That’s why choosing a multicultural digital agency whose team understands diversity first hand and who knows how to reach this demographic with an authentic narrative is crucial. 

At ysp Digital, we take the guesswork out of representation and incorporate inclusion the right way. Our team of experts in diverse marketing will create a strategy that resonates with every single one of your customers. 

We ensure your social media marketing strategies promote diversity on more than just a superficial level. If you have questions about effectively reaching your diverse audience, contact us at hello@yspdigital.com.

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