For today's guest blog post, I'm delighted to welcome Alexis Bushnell from Social Media for Humans . Read on for some fantastic insights into how to make your social media more inclusive and accessible.
Do you know how inclusive your social media content is? The images, copy and even hashtags you use, or don’t use, can say a lot about your business and your values. As ethical business owners it’s important to be aware of how we may be excluding people, even by accident, to ensure we’re doing all we can to create a world where everyone is welcome, safe and supported.
Here’s a few things to consider when you’re creating your content.
Who’s in your images - and who isn’t?
Especially when using stock photos, it’s easy for your social media feeds to be covered in able bodied, straight white people. Equally, it’s easy for any images you use to represent relationships to be heterosexual couples often with young children.
Including a diverse range of people in your images provides representation for underrepresented groups, subtly states your own values and, if you’re opting to buy your stock photos, puts money in the hands of members of those groups too.
What language are you using?
Ableist language remains in common usage today, even in progressive spaces. Choosing to switch out words like “crazy” for “wild” or “dumb” for “ignorant” begins to change both our own perceptions of disability and how we think about disability as a society.
Check in with where you use gender in your copy too; is “her or she” really the best term to use? Would “they” be better and save you some precious characters?
Aim to be specific in your language too rather than conflating experiences or anatomy with gender - is your product really “for women” or is it for people with small hands, with long hair or who wear skirts?
If you talk about relationships in your content, try switching out “husband or wife” for “spouse(s) or partner(s)” and avoid language which assumes relationship set-up unless you exclusively work with specific relationship styles.
When speaking to or about people with children try to welcome all people raising or helping raise children with phrases like “to support the children in your life.”
And of course, always include your pronouns when you introduce yourself. Instagram and LinkedIn both have a specific profile section to add your pronouns now, hop over and fill those in. For other networks, simply add your pronouns to your bio and remember to add them to your elevator pitch too.
If your images and copy demonstrate your inclusivity, hashtags are much less of an issue. That said, it’s worth checking that you’re not giving off a different vibe in those hashtag sets.
If you work with people of all genders but you’re regularly hitting up the #BossBabe hashtags, you’re both missing out on the folks who aren’t following those hashtags because they’re not relevant and signaling to many people that they’re not your ideal client.
You’re human - you’re learning.
Language and society is ever changing, that’s one of the wonderful things about it. But, because of that, it can be scary and overwhelming because what if we get it wrong?
The truth is, we all get it wrong sometimes. We’re human! But it’s important to remember that our actions say it all, so be open to corrections, listen when people explain why a certain word or phrase isn’t acceptable and be willing to make changes and question your ideas. Accept that you can’t know it all but commit to doing your best.
Finally, fill your own feed with people different to yourself. Follow activists and individuals talking about their own experiences. Consume media from a wide variety of people - podcasts, blogs, videos, etc. Ensure you’re seeing different perspectives regularly.
I would love to hear what you’re going to work on changing that you hadn’t considered before so do come find me on social media and let me know!
Alexis is a social media guide and founder of Social Media for Humans, a movement changing the way social media works from the inside. She busts myths and provides an honest, jargon-free explanation of algorithms and strategy to help business owners and individuals use social media effectively, ethically and in a way that’s sustainable for both the human running the business and the planet.
Outside of trying to ruin Zuck’s master plan, she enjoys walking, dog agility with TiLi, her Bichon Frise, and playing chess.