Participating in special days like Pride Month, Women’s History Month or Black History month is a fantastic way for B2B brands to get involved with their communities, show support for marginalized groups, and build employee engagement. Social media is the perfect place to center these kinds of efforts. But it’s crucial to be strategic and focus on the community as you plan your participation so you can do so with authenticity and respect.
We’ve all encountered the viral stories of highly visible blunders by some of the most well-known consumer brands in the world. (Juneteenth ice cream, anyone?) And while consumer-facing businesses are more likely to make the news over a special day faux pas, B2B brands are not immune to the same kind of marketing missteps.
While there are massive benefits to participating in these socially conscious special days, diving in without a strategy is a recipe for disaster. Mishandling observances that mean a great deal to the communities they celebrate can come off as opportunistic or, even worse, exploitative.
Fortunately, there are a few simple, strategic things you can do to help ensure your efforts hit the right notes, add value to the conversation, and help your B2B brand build community.
Let Employees Lead
Special day participation planning should often begin in HR or People Ops, not the marketing department. What internal initiatives is your company planning to observe the occasion?
For example, during Mental Health Awareness Month, your People Ops team may plan special events focused on employee mental health needs. Those events may yield content you can share on your social channels with the community. This is a great win-win-win opportunity because your B2B brand can contribute to the conversation, display its values, and uplift employee voices, all at the same time.
For social justice- and advocacy-related special days, begin with any ERGs within your organization. If you have a BIPOC or LGBTQ+ employee caucus, ask them what they are talking about and what they’d like to see from their company. These conversations will help you develop a strategy that puts your brand’s authentic engagement with the community front and center.
Sometimes, the best strategy for a B2B company is to simply elevate employee voices on social media. Perhaps your brand will post very little about Pride Month, International Women’s Day, or Black History Month but instead choose to share the content employees are posting to keep the spotlight on them.
Listen First, Then Share
One of the most important things to steer clear of as your B2B brand enters the social media conversation around special days is sounding tone deaf by misusing vernacular that is well-known in the community. Not knowing the vocabulary is a surefire way to come across as inauthentic. At worst, this kind of tone deafness can give the impression that your brand is attempting to coopt a movement for the sake of marketing.
One prime example of this is the way the African American community talks about Juneteenth. Importantly, this isn’t a holiday that is “celebrated.” Rather, Black Americans use the language of “commemorate” and “remember” when they talk about this special day. Brands that struck a note of triumph in their social media posts about Juneteenth were out of step with the community, resulting in a tone deaf message.
The good news is that this mistake is easy to avoid. Perhaps your parents told you when you were a kid that you have two ears and one mouth for a good reason. That’s definitely the approach you should take when it comes to celebrating special days on social media.
Begin by listening internally. Understand what’s important to your employees and other internal stakeholders. Then listen to the community that the special day celebrates. Get a feel for the conversation.
During Black History Month, follow Black leaders and organizations like the NAACP, the Southern Law Poverty Center to hear what the community is talking about.
During Pride month, tune into LGBTQ+ social media channels and listen to what the leaders and organizations in that community are talking about.
Only after doing some deep listening should your brand enter the conversation. And even the most in-tune B2B brands will do well to spend more of their social media capital amplifying other voices rather than sharing the company’s perspective.
Highlight Industry Voices
In addition to spotlighting employees and amplifying advocacy groups, your B2B brand can authentically engage in special days by seeking out individuals within your industry who are also active in their communities.
When you highlight these other voices, you help spread awareness about important issues of diversity, equality, and inclusion. You also help build community, create goodwill, and establish your brand among thought leaders within your industry.
Show, Don’t Tell
Perhaps the most effective way to participate in special days like Pride Month or Black History Month is to go beyond your social media presence and get involved IRL.
If your company or employees are active in planning community events, or if you have a presence in a parade, march, or festival, there’s an opportunity to capture the moment. Take lots of pictures or ask your employees to share their photos on social media. Posting about what your company is actually doing in the real world will go much further than any online-only effort ever could.
We know that pictures and videos perform very well on social media for all brands, including B2B companies.
When photos and videos are sharing something authentic about your company’s culture and commitment to diversity and inclusion, you’re helping accomplish the ultimate goal of your social media presence: to show off what makes your brand unique and keep it top of mind for your potential customers.
Know When To Hold Back
There are times when it’s best not to participate. If your company is not doing anything to engage with, for example, the LGBTQ+ community, turning your logo rainbow-colored for June may give the impression of rainbow washing.
Anytime your brand participates in an advocacy-related holiday, you need to be ready to answer the question, “What else are you doing?”
Suppose your company has not been very active in advocating for a particular cause but still wants to participate in a special day.
In that case, one effective way to engage with authenticity is to post about and amplify the work of non-profit organizations working on the cause.
For example, you might highlight LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like The Human Rights Campaign during Pride Month or HBCUs during Black History Month.
Get Involved And Stay Involved
Special days present a great opportunity for your B2B brand. Yes, you can post on social media and garner some engagement for your organization. But more importantly, these special days offer your brand the chance to get involved with issues that truly matter for your employees, partners, and customers.
When you approach them as community-building moments, these special days become a hugely important part, not only of your marketing strategy but also your brand’s identity. And when you bring your brand’s authentic voice and engage your employees and community in the process, there’s nothing but upside for your brand as you participate in special days.
Want to have a conversation about social media? Let’s talk.