As a black owned creative agency and woman, the last five years in social media have been transformative. From the #MeToo movement to #BlackLivesMatter, social media has returned to something like the thing that made me fall for it over 10 years ago.
When Facebook first launched I was very cautious of this platform that seemed to want to know everything about you. As the child of refugees who came to the UK in the late nineties and a painfully shy kid, it went against everything I trusted. You'd never believe that now if you met me, although I still do suffer from crippling social anxiety, and that's definitely down to getting out there over the last five years to speak at events and network.
But I digress.
Social media for the people and by the people
The Arab Springs Uprising suddenly saw social media being used as a tool for good. Citizens on the affected countries were taking to social media to share what was happening on the ground and state controlled only extended to news, print and radio. It was a brave new world and the social part was absolutely on fire. It was people powered media for the people.
Then along came the brands, politicians and big advertising bucks. For a while it felt like we'd never see social media be what it was at the beginning again. Black lives matter has been a movement that many brands, politicians and big advertisers had no idea about (wilfully or in ignorance who knows), and it wasn't until the continual social media campaigning from the black community and allies that it was finally heard.
In the wake of #BlackLivesMatter becoming a 'trending' topic, it's important virtual signal and treating racial equality like a marketing campaign doesn't become the new norm. Brands and businesses need to walk the talk and show they are committed to black lives matter. And that starts on their own doorsteps.
I'm on the BIMA Diversity & Inclusion Council and one of my passions is creating more genuine representation for women, black creatives and underrepresented in media. In a recent conversation with BIMA, I raised the need for us to continue to amplify black voices long after most have gone back to regular scheduled programming. And wonderfully they agreed too.
Black livelihoods matter as it is the lifeline of the black communities. It's just as important as the black lives everyone is concerned about right now. We need to diversify the procurement teams to give black owned brands, businesses and individuals a fair share of the pie. We need to see more black influencers in campaigns. We need more creatives leading at every level of the industry.
We need more of it all and we needed it like yesterday.
We've put together a folder with a template designed to help you introduce a black brand, business or individual to a brand that has recently posted on social media that #BlackLivesMatter. If they really mean it, black livelihoods will matter just as much and we'll see the action we need tomorrow happening today.
If you're a black brand, business or individual there's also a template to help you make that introduction.
A big thank you to the legendary June Sarpong on Adland Commits with Creative Equals & Billetto yesterday who confirmed my idea that this was what was needed. Now is the time for all of us, no matter race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other minority group, to come together and keep that pressure up across the board.
So get to searching who shared their solidarity and signed the open letter, and ask them to put their money where their mouth is.