Following a year of racial turmoil and the subsequent calls for social justice across the globe, here at Wearisma we are reflecting on what Black History Month means in 2021.
After the death of George Floyd in 2020 sparked long-overdue global protests against institutional racism and police brutality, the topic of race was once again catapulted back to the forefront of global consciousness. The #BlackLivesMatter movement shone a light on the overt nature of racial discrimination within the everyday fabric of our society, exposing just how much further we have to go to achieve equality and inclusion.
Calls for racial justice have rightly remained steadfast in the face of continued inequalities that exist in our society at large. The increase in awareness over the past year has been reflected in the trends that drive our social media communities, as consumers continue to rally in support of the Black community to tackle deeply ingrained economic and social inequalities. In fact, Wearisma’s data reveals that the #blackownedbrands hashtag generated 3x the ER in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020, across all platforms globally.With this increased awareness also comes a fierce call to action; consumers now demand brands move beyond tokenistic shows of support and commit to equality and diversity all-year round.
When joining the rest of the world in celebrating Black History Month, brands need to reflect upon how their commitment to diversity and inclusion can move beyond this one assigned month of the year. Committing to equality is not limited to a moment in time. Rather, it should be an integral part of your brand’s values and must be implemented within your strategy across the whole year.
1: Recognize Black History 365 days a year
As brands step forward to show their support for racial equality during Black History Month, it’s imperative to consider how your approach extends beyond this one month allotted time-slot and recognises Black history 365 days a year. Ultimately, brands must be careful not to become tokenistic in their approach towards social justice issues.
In an age of social justice brands and corporations are under pressure to align with progressive social values, so shows of support can easily appear insincere if it seems obvious they are only participating to avoid criticism. Tokenistic actions are the most obvious giveaway, often resulting from minimal effort attempts to ‘tick the box’ rather than well-thought-out marketing strategies intended to genuinely raise the Black community and provide a platform to those leading the way in the fight for equality. For example, simply changing your Linkedin logo or adding a banner to your site for the month is a tokenistic show of support and will no longer live up to expectations from consumers.
When approaching Black History Month, think about actions over words. Implementing an effective strategy that aligns with your brand’s values and provides a platform for the Black community to thrive, instead of just benefiting your brand, is a good place to start. Think about how your brand’s actions actually make a difference and can have an impact all year round. If your brand’s commitment to the cause expires once people are no longer paying attention, then it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Today’s generation of social media users will not hesitate to call out brands who don’t seem authentic or transparent; here’s a few ways we believe brands can get it right when curating their approach to diversity and inclusion.
1) Authentic influencer marketing is no longer a nice-to-have addition to your brand’s strategy, but essential for any online marketing strategy that aims to build community, influence, and impact. This is especially true when it comes to participating in social justice events such as Black History Month; it’s important to remember you will only seem authentic if your marketing strategy embraces diversity all year-round.
2) Make a long-term commitment towards inclusion by working with a diverse range of influencers across all your marketing campaigns. You can embrace diversity within your influencer marketing strategy outside of Black History Month by identifying the right advocates to work with; those who are leading the way in their community to advocate for equality and inclusion. Using data and technology which can uniquely identify influencers passionate about the topics of diversity, equality, and inclusivity can help brands make this commitment. Our consumer advocacy tab has been designed to do just that, encouraging brands to see beyond their own unconscious biases and connect to influencers already championing their own communities.
As our Founder, Jenny Tsai comments: “Tokenistic marketing can’t be solved with a simple bit of green or rainbow washing, but brands can take positive steps towards identifying and working with the communities that are truly passionate about shared causes”.
There is a fine line between participating in and capitalising on social justice issues, so thinking about strategies your brand can implement across the entire year is a good way to approach Black History Month. Incorporating an inclusive, human-centric approach to technology can help build authentic communities that champion diversity beyond Black History Month.
2: Amplify Black Voices
At Wearisma we strongly believe amplifying Black voices is a commitment brands need to make every single month of the year. Here, we’d like to highlight some of our favourite Black content creators who are championing conversations surrounding diversity. Let’s take a look at new and upcoming influencers who are leading the charge and could be a part of your next campaign:
Kezia Harrell, @sugarygarbage
Artist Kezia Harrell gains an above-average Engagement Rate of 13.17% across her Instagram posts, her content clearly and consistently maintaining interest from her audience – her following consistently growing, by almost 1K over the past 3 months.
Micro-influencer and Vlogger Crystall gains an impressive 30% Engagement Rate from her small but loyal audience on YouTube, mainly creating content that focuses on providing ‘How-to’ tips on styling her natural curls and videos on culture and Ethiopian heritage.
Tiffanie Alice, @omgtiffanie
Fashion blogger and vlogger Tiffanie Alice gains an incredible 119% Engagement Rate on TikTok where she shows fashion and lifestyle pieces. She also uses her other platforms like Instagram to use her voice to bring attention to events which demand a change for equality such as hashtag #justiceforbreonnataylor.
Our Influencer Discovery tool allows brands to connect with influencers and everyday consumers alike who are passionate about the topics of diversity, equality, and inclusivity. This helps brands ensure they are passing the mic to those who are authentically engaged with driving conversations around diversity and inclusion well beyond the time frame of Black History Month.