As content creators, we instinctively create material that that resonates with ourselves and those just like us. While there is value in writing about what we know, our challenge is to improve our reach by making our content relevant to a wide audience. One strategy is to tailor our content to a more diverse audience.
Understanding Our Fellow Internet Travelers
Let’s begin with an overview of Canadian diversity:
- Nearly 5% of Canadians self-identify as Aboriginal (Government of Canada, 2021)
- Over 22% of Canadians self-identify as a visible minority (Government of Canada, 2021)
- 5% of Canadians identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (Carlson, 2012)
- 20% of Canadians aged 15 years and over have one or more disabilities that limit their daily activities (Government of Canada, 2018)
- 22% of Canadians are 65 or older (Government of Canada, 2021)
- Approximately 25% of Canadians are obese (Government of Canada, 2011)
Addressing our content to an audience of young, white, straight, slender, healthy adults no longer serves us well, and is a disservice to our audience. So how do we improve?
Current literature points us toward the concepts of “diversity and inclusion” which have gained great traction in businesses.
Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting. In the workplace that can mean differences in race, ethnicity, gender or any other number of things. Inclusion is the practice of ensuring that people feel a sense of belonging and support from the organization (Built In, n.d.)
Translating the concept to social media is a little tricky, but perhaps the easiest way to do that is to break the strategies down into content solutions and technology solutions.
These strategies will engage a more diverse audience (Sehl, 2020; Tuke, 2018):
- Use images that represent the full scope of your desired readership
- Mark the holidays of religions other than your own
- Use gender-neutral language (“folks” or “friends” not “ladies” or “guys”)
- Use inclusive language (avoid words like “crazy” or “insane”)
- Avoid jargon that may be unfamiliar to new immigrants
- Partner with diverse content creators, or organizations that represent diversity and inclusion
The following inclusion strategies assist diverse readers to connect with our content, despite their newness to English, a reading disorder, or physical limitations (Sehl, 2020; Tuke, 2018). Remember that the visually impaired may be using screen readers.
- Avoid unusual fonts
- Use a larger font, in colours that stands out from the background
- Put hashtags at the end of the post
- Don’t overuse capital letters or emojis
- Add photo descriptions
- Capitalize each word in a hashtag (“Camel Casing”)
- Caption videos for the hearing impaired
- Use the “Alt Text” feature to add photo descriptions for screen readers (and help search engines find you.) Here is an excellent article: https://symphonyagency.com/alt-text-for-social-media/
Time Well Spent
The benefits of these extra steps should include a larger, more diversified audience. They also allow our brands to contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society.
Have you ever felt excluded or disadvantaged by social media? What tips would you add to the list?
Ashwood, Matt. “The Complete Guide to Adding Alt Text for Social Media Images.” The Symphony Agency, 24 Feb. 2021, symphonyagency.com/alt-text-for-social-media/.
Canada, Public Health Agency of. “Government of Canada.” Canada.ca, / Gouvernement Du Canada, 23 June 2011, http://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/healthy-living/obesity-canada.html.
Carlson, Kathryn Blaze. “The True North LGBT: New Poll Reveals Landscape of Gay Canada.” National Post, 6 July 2012, nationalpost.com/news/canada/the-true-north-lgbt-new-poll-reveals-landscape-of-gay-canada.
Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. “Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017.” Statistics Canada , 28 Nov. 2018, www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/181128/dq181128a-eng.htm.
Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. “Highlight Tables, 2016 Census.” Statistics Canada, 8 Feb. 2021, www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/hlt-fst/index-eng.cfm.
Sehl, Katie. “Inclusive Design for Social Media: Tips for Creating Accessible Channels.” Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard, 15 Oct. 2020, blog.hootsuite.com/inclusive-design-social-media/.
Tuke, Holly. “6 Ways to Make Your Online and Offline Content Accessible for Blind and Visually Impaired People.” Life of a Blind Girl, 6 Apr. 2020, lifeofablindgirl.com/2020/04/06/6-ways-to-make-your-online-and-offline-content-accessible-for-blind-and-visually-impaired-people/.
“What Is The Meaning Of Diversity & Inclusion? A 2021 Workplace Guide: Built In.” What Is The Meaning Of Diversity & Inclusion? A 2021 Workplace Guide | Built In, n.d., builtin.com/diversity-inclusion.