Creating Content for the Real World

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 

Attractive, young white adults. Photo from canva.com

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)
Group of individuals of diverse ages and ethnicities.
Photo from canva.com

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.

Content Tips

Woman writing on her computer
Photo from canva.com

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

Technical Tips

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.

Man editing on his computer
Photo from canva.com
  • 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?


References

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.


The secret to growing your reach is to connect with a more diverse audience. Sounds hard? Not really! We’ve got 14 tips to make the job quick and easy. Check out our latest blog post here: http://ow.ly/6Oee50FCrPx

14 quick tips to grow your reach by connecting with a more diverse audience.
Details here: http://ow.ly/6Oee50FCrPx
#DiversityAndInclusion #GrowYourReach

4 thoughts on “Creating Content for the Real World

  1. Hi Brenda, great blog. I 100% agree with all the points you have spoken about in your blog. In society today, the use of gender-neutral language I believe is very important.

    Another great tip that is important is to make sure that you are using the proper colours and contrast.

    Check out https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/#use-of-color for more information on accessibility guidelines to follow when creating web content.

    • Thanks Brittney – especially for the link to the web accessibility guidelines, which I am very glad to have. There is a lot to digest there, and things I hadn’t even considered yet, like creating posts accessible for those with colour blindness. Social media is starting to feel like parenting: anyone can do it, but to do it well takes a whole lot of knowledge and attention!

  2. Hi Brenda

    I think your blog highlighting diversity and inclusivity is exceedingly important in communication in general. In the communication courses that I teach, we spend a fair bit of time talking about gender-neutral language.

    I have recently started to ask my students to include their preferred pronouns with their introductions. Many companies have begun this practice as well with preferred pronouns included with corporate email signature files.

    We have also discussed the use of “singular they”, and how it is becoming more acceptable to use: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/singular-nonbinary-they

    Thank you for your insights into such a complex but important topic. Cheers!

    P.S. I will have to work on not saying “Thanks Guys!” at the end of all of my classes…lol!

  3. Thanks Kevin – wow, you are doing important work! I was part of an interview panel recently and the best candidate was non-binary. I have no philosophical problems with that choice, and really respect the candidate’s skills and abilities, yet I am still finding it takes a while to develop the mind-to-mouth connection to use the “singular they” without pausing or stumbling. We’ll get there; it is great if we can lay the groundwork for others through coursework like yours, and our social media content!

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