Why Equal Representation on Social Media Matters
I work a lot with social media for my job as a marketing director. In many ways, I love my job. It allows me to work remotely, write about topics I’m passionate about (such as remote work), and meet fascinating, driven people. However, spending so much time online, one does become very aware of the dark side of social media and insta-celebrities.
Full disclosure – I am white. I am also a female digital nomad that works with social enterprises and am dedicated to helping women and people of color launch successful businesses that make a difference. Recently, several of my clients have asked for me to grow their social media presence – fast. In my 8 years of marketing and content strategy experience, I’ve learned that there is one “growth hack” that creates fast, sustainable results: partnerships with social media influencers.
For the purpose of this post, I define influencers as individuals with established credibility in a specific industry or niche. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.
Generally, I enjoy working with influencers. Most of the men and women I have worked with have been incredibly down to earth, kind, and excited to share my client’s stories and services with their audience. However, because I am dedicated to ethical, sustainable and representative marketing – I can get very frustrated doing influencer work, especially when working with the digital nomad/travel blogger space.
Much of the digital nomad life is romanticized and forced to fit into a very narrow understanding of what a successful female digital nomad looks like. She is usually blonde or light-haired, white, tall, thin and photogenic – frequently posing in swimsuits to gain followers.
I get so frustrated when I search for the top travel bloggers on Instagram to possibly collaborate with and see blonde after blonde after blonde. I’ve met some of these beautiful, blonde women – they are amazing, have great stories and have worked hard to gain the following they have. This being said, there are also many black, brown and Asian women who have worked equally hard, are just as beautiful and yet struggle to achieve insta-celebrity status. Of course, there are black men and women in the travel space with huge followings on social media, but marketers often don’t take the time to search these accounts out.
One of the problems with influencer collaborations in marketing is that most marketers only look at the number of followers, they don’t consider the need for black representation in travel and remote work.
One of my clients is a practicing Muslim, and as a result, she has many connections to the global Muslim community. This has been so refreshing, as I have been introduced to men and women of color from around the globe with great followings. But most of their audience resides abroad, not in the United States, and these influencers are typically in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle spaces.
I make an effort to connect them with as many black, brown and Asian influencers as possible. On my part, I am constantly looking to be introduced to influencers and influencer networks within the black community that I can then introduce to brands.
It is my responsibility as a social media marketer to ensure that people of color are equally represented on my client’s pages and in their campaigns – this ensures that I do not add to the already systemic understanding of “normal” as white, young and thin.
The men and women of color with incredible blogs, photography and creative work within the digital nomad and travel industries deserve to be celebrated and highlighted. Digital nomads aren’t just blonde, white, tall and thin – we are a diverse group and should be represented as such!