The best way to Go Past the Hashtag


Social media activism is now not non-obligatory, particularly for bigger manufacturers. Shoppers, workers, and social followers all count on your model to take a stand on points that basically matter.

What’s social media activism?

Social media activism is an internet type of protest or advocacy for a trigger. As a result of hashtags play a central position in mobilizing actions on social media, the time period is commonly used interchangeably with hashtag activism.

Activism on social media contains selling consciousness of social justice points and exhibiting solidarity by way of the usage of hashtags, posts, and campaigns.

Real social media activism is supported by concrete actions, donations, and measurable commitments to alter.

With out real offline motion, utilizing a hashtag or posting a black sq. or rainbow flag comes throughout as opportunistic and lazy. Critics are sometimes fast to name out these minimal efforts as “slacktivism” or performative allyship.

Manufacturers ought to tread rigorously: Greater than three-quarters of Individuals (76%) say “social media makes folks assume they’re making a distinction once they actually aren’t.”

Alongside the identical strains, when an organization participates in social media activism that doesn’t align with its previous or current actions, it may immediate backlash and calls of advantage signaling, greenwashing, or rainbow capitalism.

We’re about to dive into 10 methods to have interaction in significant activism on social media. And, in fact, we’ll present loads of social media activism examples the place manufacturers received issues proper.

Nevertheless it actually all boils all the way down to this:

Phrases are simply phrases, and hashtags are simply hashtags. Sure, they will each be extraordinarily highly effective. However for manufacturers, particularly these with vital market share and sources, actions communicate a lot louder. Social media activism should be accompanied by actual world motion.

Take heed to credible voices engaged on the trigger. Be taught from those that have well-established experience within the motion. And decide to working in the direction of actual change.

The best way to use social media to authentically assist a trigger: 10 ideas

1. Pause and evaluate your social calendar

The very first thing to do earlier than partaking in social media activism – whether or not you’re responding to an instantaneous disaster or starting a long run marketing campaign of activism and allyship – is to hit pause.

Evaluate your social calendar. In case you use a social media scheduler, you may need to unschedule upcoming posts and save them for later. Evaluate your content material calendar to see how issues align with the stance you’re about to take. In case you’re responding to a disaster, you’ll possible need to keep centered on the trigger at hand.

Shoppers do need manufacturers to reply in occasions of disaster. Greater than 60% say “manufacturers ought to acknowledge moments of disaster of their promoting and communications when they’re occurring.”

Within the wake of the Uvalde capturing, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays paused their social media sport protection and as an alternative used their social channels to share details about gun violence.

They went all-in on this, not holding something again.

Whereas your common content material is on pause, take the time to study what’s occurring past the headlines so you may take a significant stance adopted up with concrete motion.

That motion part is important when it comes to garnering assist in your activism quite than backlash.

Earlier than returning to common programming, think about how your campaigns and content material will resonate inside the bigger context.


  • Attempt to revenue out of your assist. Social actions are usually not advertising and marketing alternatives, and clients will name out actions your model takes that seem motivated by something apart from good religion.

2. Take heed to your clients (and workers)

It’s regular for feelings to run excessive throughout social justice and human rights actions. However these in-the-moment spikes can result in long-term adjustments in how folks really feel and behave – and the way they count on corporations to behave.

70% of members of Era Z say they’re concerned in a social or political trigger. They usually count on manufacturers to hitch them. Greater than half (57%) of Gen Z says manufacturers can do extra to resolve societal issues than governments can, and 62% say they need to work with manufacturers to handle these points.

However the 2022 Edelman Belief Barometer discovered customers don’t assume manufacturers are doing sufficient to handle social change.

graph showing business engagement on societal issues

Supply: Edelman 2022 Belief Barometer

Use social listening to raised perceive how your viewers is feeling. Understanding the broader perspective lets you specific empathy and solidarity with destructive sentiments, then rally your viewers round constructive sentiments with robust calls to motion.

This might embrace rallying followers to share messages, signal petitions, or match donations. Typically it’s so simple as acknowledging how folks really feel within the context of social upheaval, comparable to Aerie’s ongoing advocacy for psychological wellness – on this case, actually giving followers instruments for combatting anxiousness and enhancing psychological well being.


  • Dismiss feelings or police tone. Individuals usually have professional causes to really feel what they really feel.

3. Be trustworthy and clear

Earlier than posting something in assist of a trigger, mirror in your firm historical past and tradition. Which may imply wanting on the variety of your groups, re-evaluating non-environmental practices, assessing the accessibility of your advertising and marketing, and extra.

Whereas troublesome, it’s necessary to have trustworthy inside conversations about firm values and adjustments you could must make. In case you’re not trustworthy, you’re going to have issues with social media activism.

Admitting previous errors is the primary method to present that your organization means what it says. Be upfront about something that goes towards your present place. With out doing this, your social activism will ring hole—or worse, hypocritical. It may additionally immediate folks to name you out.

Disney initially stayed silent in response to Florida’s “Dont Say Homosexual” invoice, sending out an inside electronic mail of assist for LGBTQ workers quite than making a public assertion. That shortly grew to become an issue for the corporate, because the hashtag #DisneyDoBetter took off and workers, creatives, and followers all shared their issues concerning the weak stance in addition to the corporate’s earlier donations to supporters of the invoice.

Inside a number of days, Disney needed to acknowledge its mistake and make a prolonged public assertion.

Manufacturers can both maintain themselves accountable, or be held accountable. However don’t really feel it is advisable be good earlier than you may take a stand. For instance, greater than half of workers say CEOs ought to publicly communicate out about racism as quickly as the corporate has its personal racial fairness and variety objectives in place, with concrete plans to fulfill them.


  • Cover inside points and hope nobody finds out about them – or disguise behind inside communications. Inner emails can shortly go public when worker issues are usually not addressed.
  • Be afraid to be trustworthy. Clients admire honesty. However Edelman discovered solely 18% of workers belief their firm’s head of DEI to be trustworthy about racism inside the group. In case your workers can’t belief you, how can clients?

4. Be human

Humanize your communication efforts. Individuals can and do see by way of inauthentic habits.

Overused phrases and punctiliously calibrated language are likely to make firm statements look templated. (Ideas and prayers, anybody?) Be thoughtful in what you need to say, however throw out the company jargon and canned content material. Be actual.

Edelman discovered that 81% of respondents to the 2022 Belief Barometer count on CEOs to be personally seen when speaking about work their firm has carried out to learn society.

When then-Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier spoke out about voting rights, the corporate posted his feedback on their social accounts.

Sure, it is a assertion that has possible gone by way of legal professionals and different company messaging professionals. Nevertheless it’s clear and doesn’t maintain again. And Frazier has repeatedly confirmed his capacity to unite enterprise leaders in social motion. He’s talked about his values and the way the problems on which he chooses to take a stand align with company values.

He advised the Albert and Mary Lasker basis that when he stepped down from President Trump’s Enterprise Council after the President’s remarks about occasions in Charlottesville, he spoke to the Merck board about whether or not he ought to current it as a strictly private choice or embrace point out of the corporate.

“I’m very proud to say that my board unanimously mentioned, ‘No, we really need you to talk to the corporate’s values, not simply your private values,’” he mentioned.


  • Simply say what everybody else is saying. It wants to come back out of your firm.
  • Fear about key phrases, irrelevant hashtags, or algorithms. Say the fitting factor, not the best rating factor.

5. Make your stance clear and constant

If you do share a message in assist of a trigger, make sure that message leaves no room for ambiguity. Don’t go away folks asking questions or filling within the blanks for you.

The gold commonplace for clear model positioning comes from ice cream model Ben and Jerry’s. They’re constant and vocal of their assist of racial and social justice.

Shoppers need your stance on necessary points to be clear earlier than they make a purchase order. Meaning taking a stand in your social content material and adverts, but in addition in your web site, so the message is constant when somebody clicks by way of to study extra or purchase.


  • Attempt to have all of it or do all of it. Communicate to the causes that matter most to your model and your workers, so that you may be constant and genuine.

6. Share how you’re taking motion

Individuals need to hear how manufacturers are tackling points past social media.

It’s one factor to put up a message in assist of Ukraine. Nevertheless it’s motion that basically counts. Greater than 40% of customers boycotted companies that continued to function in Russia after the invasion. On social, each #BoycottMcDonalds and #BoycottCocaCola had been trending in early March, till the businesses lastly ceased Russian operations.

Present that your organization is definitely taking motion. Which organizations are you donating to, and the way a lot? Will you make common contributions? How is your model really doing good inside communities? What steps are you taking towards a extra moral manufacturing course of and provide chain? Be particular. Share receipts.

For instance, when Dove launched its #KeepTheGrey marketing campaign to attract consideration to ageism and sexism within the office, the model donated $100,000 to Catalyst, a corporation that helps create extra inclusive workplaces.

And when the make-up model Fluide celebrated Trans Day of Visibility, they highlighted numerous trans fashions whereas committing to donate 20% of gross sales in the course of the marketing campaign to Black Trans Femmes within the Arts.


  • Make empty guarantees. Edelman’s 2022 particular report on enterprise and racial justice discovered greater than half of Individuals assume corporations are usually not doing an excellent job assembly their guarantees to handle racism. In case you can’t stay as much as your guarantees, you’re higher off to not make them within the first place.

7. Guarantee your actions mirror your organization tradition

Just like level #3, follow what you preach. In case your model promotes variety on social media, your office ought to be numerous. In case you promote environmentalism, you must use sustainable practices. In any other case, it’s not social activism. It’s performative allyship or greenwashing. And other people discover: Twitter noticed a 158% enhance in mentions of “greenwashing” this 12 months.

A technique to make sure your activism aligns along with your tradition is to decide on causes that connect with your model function. Actually, 55% of customers say it’s necessary for a model to take motion on points that relate to its core values and 46% say manufacturers ought to discuss social points straight associated to their trade.

For instance, the sexual wellness model Maude has an ongoing marketing campaign selling inclusive #SexEdForAll.

Providing actual requires motion and donating a share of earnings from their Intercourse Ed For All capsule assortment, they work in partnership with the Sexual Info and Schooling Council of america (SIECUS) to advertise inclusive intercourse training.

That mentioned, your model function could not have an apparent connection to social causes. That doesn’t imply you may choose out of the dialog.

when can brands speak about social justice issues bar chart

Supply: Twitter Advertising

Accountable company tradition ought to be at first about doing the fitting factor. However know that over time, it would really enhance your backside line. Various corporations are extra worthwhile and make higher choices.

Plus, almost two-thirds of customers – and almost three-quarters of Gen Z – purchase or advocate for manufacturers primarily based on their values. They’re keen to pay extra for manufacturers that do good on the planet.


  • Take too lengthy to observe by way of on commitments. Your clients are watching and ready.

8. Plan for good and unhealthy responses

Earlier than your model takes a stance on social media, put together for suggestions.

The purpose of social activism is commonly to disrupt the established order. Not everybody will agree along with your place. Clients could applaud your model, whereas others shall be important. Many shall be emotional. And sadly, some commenters could also be abusive or hateful.

Manufacturers taking a stand within the face of the overturning of Roe v. Wade confronted abusive feedback on their social posts.

Profit did all the fitting issues on this put up by stating the actions they had been taking, exhibiting how the trigger associated to their core values, and linking to companions who’re consultants within the work.

That mentioned, they nonetheless confronted feedback that could possibly be very triggering for his or her social staff to see coming in, particularly anybody impacted by their very own abortion or fertility experiences.

Count on an inflow of messages and equip your social media managers with the instruments they should deal with them. That features psychological well being assist—particularly for many who are straight impacted by the motion you’re supporting.

Take into account the next do’s and don’ts:


  • Evaluate your social media pointers and replace as wanted.
  • Clearly outline what constitutes abusive language and tips on how to deal with it.
  • Develop a response plan for incessantly requested questions or frequent statements.
  • Be human. You’ll be able to personalize responses whereas sticking to the script.
  • Maintain related coaching classes.
  • Apologize for previous actions, when vital.
  • Adapt your technique for various audiences on totally different social media platforms.


  • Disappear. Stay current along with your viewers, even when they’re upset with you.
  • Delete feedback except they’re abusive or dangerous. Don’t tolerate hate.
  • Be afraid to confess that you simply don’t have all of the solutions.
  • Make it the duty of your followers to defend their fundamental human rights.
  • Take too lengthy to reply. Use instruments like Mentionlytics to maintain observe of messages.

9. Diversify and signify

Range shouldn’t simply be a field your model checks throughout Pleasure month, Black Historical past Month, or on Worldwide Ladies’s Day. In case you assist LGBTQ rights, gender equality, incapacity rights, and anti-racism, present that dedication all year long.

Make your advertising and marketing inclusive. Construct illustration into your social media fashion information and total content material technique. Supply from inclusive inventory imagery from websites like TONL, Vice’s Gender Spectrum Assortment, and Elevate. Rent numerous fashions and creatives. Bear in mind that almost each motion is intersectional.

Most necessary: Take heed to folks’s voices quite than merely utilizing their faces. Shayla Oulette Stonechild shouldn’t be solely the primary Indigenous world yoga ambassador for Lululemon, however she’s additionally on the corporate’s Vancouver-based committee for Range, Fairness, and Inclusion.

Open your platform as much as takeovers. Amplify distinctive voices. Construct significant relationships with a broader group of influencers and creators. You’ll possible develop your viewers and buyer base in consequence.


  • Stereotype. Don’t forged folks in roles that perpetuate destructive or biased stereotypes.
  • Let abusive feedback go unchecked after spotlighting somebody. Be ready to supply assist.

10. Hold doing the work

The work doesn’t cease when the hashtag stops trending.

Decide to ongoing social activism and studying. Proceed educating your model and your workers and sharing useful data with social media customers who observe your model.

Champion the trigger offline, too. Carry out non-optical allyship. Search for methods to assist long-term change. Change into a mentor. Volunteer. Donate your time. Hold preventing for fairness.


  • Consider model activism as “one and carried out.” One supportive put up isn’t going to chop it. In case you’re going to wade into the waters of digital activism, be ready to remain there for the long run.

Schedule messages and join along with your viewers on social media utilizing Hootsuite. Publish to and monitor a number of social networks from one dashboard. Strive it free right this moment.

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