White Creators: How to Welcome People of Color on Social Media (Part 1)Feb 18, 2023
February is Black History Month. We’re encouraged to honor the contributions of African Americans to our country and also recognize how far we are from achieving racial justice and equality.
For the past several years, I’ve dedicated myself to learning more about this history. As a white person, it’s humbling and overwhelming to realize how ignorant I’ve been of the history and also the experiences of my friends and coworkers of color.
I alone can’t fix systemic racism, but I can start by using what influence I do have with my particular talents and expertise. Thus, dear reader, I humbly share ways to support Black creators (as well as other minority groups) and make sure your social media accounts are diverse and welcoming to people of color.
I encourage you to do the same in your realm of influence.
Use it for Your Business
Before I dive into the tips, I want to make clear the why.
There is a cost to your NOT welcoming African Americans into your business’s social media presence. Literally, it could cost you money. Social media marketing sends people to your website to then drive revenue.
A larger percentage of Black and Hispanic adults have at least one social media account than white adults. A large part of why someone follows your account is if they feel seen and heard by your content. If they see no faces like theirs or issues that concern them, they won’t feel like they belong.
Best case scenario: they move on. Worst case, and rightfully so, they are vocal about the fact they are excluded. You could find yourself not only losing followers (and potential sales) but also unwittingly facing a PR nightmare.
NOTE: I am fully aware this list comes from my white perspective and what I’ve gleaned from listening to people of color. If you’re a person of color, I welcome your response. Let me know what you’d add or where I went wrong! I will share any updates from what I learn.
How to Welcome People of Color on Social Media
PART 1: Representation Matters
As evidenced by the viral videos of emotional responses when Disney released the trailer for the upcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid, representation in spaces historically reserved for white people is powerful.
You, as the creator of your community, get to cast the vision for those who are welcome.
Corporate America often gets criticized for using stock images of people of color when they don’t actually have a diverse workforce or customer base. This is a symptom of the wider culture of the company and not the marketing department’s fault. However, the marketing department shouldn’t try to fabricate diversity that isn’t there.
Though, I know many of you are white solopreneurs. How do you include people of color in your social images? Invite them!
I wouldn’t recommend turning to stock images but inviting Black creators to collaborate with you. And, invite any customers of color you may have to provide testimonials. If the ability to afford your services or products is a hindrance, you could even offer a referral program with a discount to invite their community to join them.
Do you ever consider which emojis you select and what message they may be sending? Since 2015, we’ve been given a choice of six skin tone variations to use. When and how to use the different skin tones versus the original yellow emoji is a nuanced conversation discussed here.
My take on it: Since I write my posts in first-person and I’m white, I used the lightest skin tone. This is the one that most adequately represents me. If I’m creating posts for a company, I will vary the skin tones used to represent the diversity of the company.
Don’t worry. You’ll mess it up.
I hear people argue that they aren’t doing the above for fear of offending the African American community. This is normal, and a part of the process. You’re going to make mistakes, and it’s going to be awkward sometimes – as anyone experiences when trying something new. I’ve done it. And, I can say that I’ve only been met with encouragement and graciousness from the Black community.
Just because it's new doesn't mean it's worth your time: For white people, is inviting people of color into your social presence worth your time?
Yes: I give it 5 out of 5 thumbs up.
The effort is very small, and the reward potential is great. I’ll take those odds any day!
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