February 21, 2022

Inclusive Content: Walking the Walk

If you’re workshopping your branding, investing in inclusive content should be at the top of your list.
Codelia Mantsebo
Codelia Mantsebo

Content Strategist

Inclusive content is more valued than ever before. People want to see themselves represented in all their diversity, and they want to know that your company is consciously working for social justice. 

But if all you’re doing is adopting what you think are the “right” images, phrases or hashtags, it won’t be enough. So ask yourself: are you walking the walk, or just talking the talk?

climate sign outside blur
Why inclusive content matters

Today’s social media users are more politically aware than ever. They care about racial justice, gender equality, sustainability and a host of other important social issues. These real day-to-day matters inform every choice they make. If they’re spending money on a product, they want to know that the brand reflects their values. And if they find a brand they can identify with – politically, culturally, personally – they’ll stay true to that brand.

But they aren’t naïve idealists. They’re very quick to detect superficiality, and fakeness turns them off like nothing else.  They won’t hesitate to call out those that only pay lip service to social justice, and they’ll be quick to avoid brands that don’t espouse the values they care about.

All this means that if your brand can show that it’s driving positive change, it can attract a fiercely loyal audience. And whatever your particular focus, inclusivity should be a fundamental value for your brand.

So how do you create inclusive content?

Creating inclusive content means making inclusivity a key part of your business. You must commit to it before you can share relatable real-life stories about it. There are a few things to think about as you look to improve your inclusivity.

Understand your impact

You don’t have to take radical action to be more inclusive. You just need to be making a real, visible impact in the areas that matter to you and your customers. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who do we stand for? Who do we represent?
  • How do we reflect the diversity of our audience? Think about race, gender and the other issues your customers care about.
  • Are we driving real change in our organisation in terms of sexuality, body positivity, equality, sustainability?
  • What have we done to show we care?

If you care about ethnic diversity, what are you doing about it? Are you talking to your team about diverse cultures? Hiring people from different ethnic backgrounds for senior positions? If your core value is sustainability, are you planting trees, changing your packaging, reducing waste? Your customers will quickly find out if you claim commitment but don’t commit.

young people with colorful art make up on their faces
Grow your cultural intelligence

It’s important not to jump on an issue simply because it’s hot. To act authentically, your company needs to be engaging with the topic in its real-world context. Cultural intelligence and education are crucial at every level, from the CEO to the intern. 

You might implement training on multicultural marketing or add specific diversity metrics to the hiring and performance processes. Actions like this make diversity an organic part of your company’s culture.

Challenge stereotypes

Your visual content is a huge asset when it comes to making a positive difference. By making it truly representative, you’ll be able to challenge ingrained stereotypes. Inclusive language is important, too.

Sainsbury’s is a great example of this. In 2020, they made a Christmas advert featuring a Black family and received a huge racist backlash, with some shoppers threatening to boycott them. But Sainsbury’s stood by their campaign and inclusive values and won even more respect.

Stay accountable

When you set out to create change, you don’t want to miss the mark. Cultural intelligence and education can help you avoid the worst pitfalls. It’s still easy to make mistakes though, and, ultimately, everyone does. The problem is that many brands won’t take accountability. They brush off criticism or say: “Oh, our intern runs our social media”. That just isn’t good enough and the customers know it.

If you do make a mistake, accept accountability. Your customers will respect you for it. It could be as simple as saying: “We can do better. We’ll learn from our mistakes.” But you have to mean it, and you have to take action. 

In this day and age, you can’t hide anything on social media. A company that makes big claims about inclusivity but has, for example, no women or LGBTQ+ people in its leadership will quickly be called out. Commit to your brand values, work towards inclusivity and take accountability – and you’ll be on the right path to organically create more inclusive content.

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