Four ways to foster inclusivity and community on your social media

Growing an inclusive community around your business is a great way to feel connected to your customers while supporting marginalized groups. 

As a business owner, you can use your voice to stand up for women’s rights, create conversation amongst budding entrepreneurs, and generally spread goodwill and an ethos of self-love through your channels. 

Even if you’re not a business owner, social media is still a great way to connect with a wider audience. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram give you a great platform to weigh in on today’s issues, and creating an inclusive community can help folks from around the world feel welcome and wanted. 

1) Identify your values

Using your social media channels to foster inclusivity and build community is different from running an Instagram or Facebook page for personal reasons.

On your personal accounts, it’s okay to ramble and rave about the dinner you had last night or your thoughts on the weather. But, on a business or community-building page, you have to be a little more strategic about how you present yourself and your values. 

Before you start posting, take some time to identify your values and educate yourself on today’s trending topics. Even if you’re well-intentioned, it’s easy to malign marginalized groups with your social media posts, and you may end up doing more harm than good.

To avoid this, take the time to listen to the people you intend to represent in your community, and think of them before you post. 

2) Listen to your community

Speaking of which, listening is an undervalued skill in today’s social media age. As a community organizer, you must actively listen to your customers and stakeholders and should pay particular attention to their values and shared beliefs. 

Your first community is probably your customer base. By listening to the voice of your customer, you can identify their needs, wants, and expectations. This will give you a better insight into the types of posts that will be received well by your community, and give you a deeper insight into the effectiveness of your social media marketing efforts. 

The best way to actively listen to your community is to simply reach out to active community members and ask them a few questions. Now, this shouldn’t sound like an inquisition, and it’s a good idea to reward participants with a freebie of some kind.

Usually, this can be a discount of some kind or access to additional content through exclusive channels like Patreon. 

3) Educate yourself

When listening to your community, you’ll probably discover that you have some serious blind spots in your knowledge, and aren’t fully prepared to represent some marginalized or vulnerable groups. If this occurs, you must take the time and effort to educate yourself to better represent these folks and their interests. 

Educating yourself may involve listening to lectures from key social figures like Angela Davis and Leslie Feinberg or reading the work of activists like Cornel West or Torrey Peters. However, when learning, you still need to post to maintain your community engagement. 

Maintaining a social media presence while you are working on yourself is tricky. However, by maintaining an honest, graceful approach to your posts you ensure that no one in your community will feel excluded or harmed by your content — it’s ok to admit that you are learning about trans rights, racism, or women’s issues, but it’s never ok to allow your lack of knowledge to harm already marginalized communities. 

4) Create conversation 

The hallmark of a healthy, inclusive social media community is engagement. But, if you’re constantly putting out posts with little to no engagement, then you’ve built an echo chamber, not a community. 

You can improve engagement and create conversation by giving the folks who follow you a chance to authentically engage with yourself or your business’ brand. To achieve this, consider the following: 

  • Actively moderate your channels and delete abusive or discriminatory comments
  • Livestream a Q&A 
  • Run a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” 
  • Utilize Polls and Surveys across your channels
  • Run competitions with giveaway prizes

Creating conversation in your community is particularly important if you are a new business with a few employees. Employees who are happy at work report that community is the biggest contributing factor to job satisfaction.

As an employer, you can leverage the power of private social media communities to create a positive work environment where everyone shares key values, feels adequately supported, and is working towards a common goal.  

Building an inclusive community takes time and effort

Fostering an inclusive community on your social media takes time and effort. Start by listening to your community and get a sense of their values and ideals.

If you identify a knowledge gap, try to educate yourself. You can create better conversation by running polls, actively moderating your comments, and even creating employee-focus private groups on your Facebook business page

Photo by Jenny Ueberberg