What role does Social Media play in Brand Activism?


Welcome to our first #ThursdayThoughts social media blog, where we discuss the latest trends and cultural events that are taking over the social media industry and are affecting thousands of companies in the employer brand space. This month, we’ll focus on the impact of brand activism, covering off the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the #StopHateForProfit campaign.  

Did you know that 55% of consumers believe that brands have a more important role to play than governments in creating a better future? Today, consumers and employees alike, expect brands to become a force for change and stand up for what they are passionate about.  

Surely, we should all be thinking about brand activism as a two-way street. It should start internally, empowering employees to make a difference every day, and it should continue externally, taking a well-calibrated stand in society.  

So, how are brands out there making their mark whilst aligning their words to their actions?  

It’s the case of Lego, who have used their social media influence to stand with the black community in support of #BlackLivesMatter, backing up their social comms with a $4 million pledge dedicated to educating children on racial equality and supporting black children. Or Netflix, who have pledged nearly $5 million in support of black creators and black-owned businesses in the effort of tackling racism by creating long-term opportunities for the black community. 

On the other hand, Nike, who have supported diversity and inclusion for years with campaigns like ‘Find Your Greatness’ (2012), ‘Common Thread’ (2019) & ‘For Once, Don’t Do It’ (2020) has been accused of showing a disconnect between what their brand projects and how it actually operates – with only 10% of their high-ranking vice presidents being black.  

The reality is, consumers are becoming more conscious of how brands treat their employees and affect our society, and social media is giving them the tools to really keep up with this like never before, raising the expectation that brands should uphold their values across all of their business functions – not just their ad copy.  

But it doesn’t stop there. People are starting to hold brands accountable, putting a stronger focus on what they do next. 

So, in the effort of removing racist material and misinformation from social media, thousands of brands have also joined the #StopHateForProfit campaign, boycotting Facebook, by suspending all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July. The initiative ended in the US just last week, but it’s echo is catching on globally.  

What began like a relatively small effort by activist organisations, has managed to involve world-renowned brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Ford and Pfizer, once again proving the central role social media holds in bringing communities together, amplifying one’s voice.  

The key learning for all employer brands out there? Look within your organisation, before you look without. Make sure you promote change every day through advocacy and employee-empowerment. Lead by example by building your social media strategies on transparency, before thinking of engagement.