At a time when so many businesses are making missteps in their engagement of diverse communities, it is refreshing to see some are getting it right. And there is a lot you can learn from them that can apply directly in your business.
While it's not often that I see ads that get me choked up, that's exactly what happened when I watched Facebook's latest, which is part of its celebration of Black History Month. In the video, singers from various Facebook Groups, along with girl group June's Diary, come together to perform a rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the black national anthem.
The song has sentimental value to me, and I really appreciated Facebook for delivering a customer experience that beautifully captured such an important element of black culture.
After watching the spot multiple times, I was inspired to send it to my family on group text and post it in a WhatsApp group I'm in. Mark Zuckerberg published the full video on his Facebook page, and an abbreviated 60-second version aired during the NBA All-Star Game over the weekend.
Here are two things Facebook did that made this campaign work, and how you can apply those same elements when reaching out to diverse communities in your field.
1. Elevate diverse cultures, but also speak to the masses.
Black History Month isn't just for black people. It is an opportunity for people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds to come together to celebrate the contributions African-Americans have made to history and society.
While I grew up singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," I know many people outside the black community are not familiar with the song. Facebook's choice to feature the anthem, and to air it during such a high-profile television event was a smart one. The spot does a great job of bringing cultures together. It taps into one group's memories of an important part of history while introducing it to many others.
As you work to engage diverse communities, don't feel like you have to speak only to those groups. Use the opportunity to also introduce that culture to others who aren't directly a part of it.
For Black History Month, for instance, that may include highlighting contributions of African-Americans that aren't well-known, and even featuring elements of their culture in a way that's relevant to your business.
2. Feature members of the community you are celebrating.
Another thing Facebook got right with this campaign was that it made its customers, specifically African-Americans who use their Facebook Groups, the hero. Aside from the group June's Diary, the spot used everyday people who use the groups feature on the platform as a means to connect with each other.
By elevating members of the black community, and ways in which they use social platforms to connect with each other, the commercial was more powerful. It felt genuine, true, and authentic. As an African-American, I felt seen, appreciated, and like I belonged. This is important as a business owner because you always want your customers to feel they belong with you--that you see them and honor them.
A big way you can equip your team to do this for Black History Month and beyond is to stay close to the diverse communities you are highlighting. Spend time with them, build relationships, develop a deep degree of intimacy with them, and empathy for them. Embrace as much of the culture as you can, so you can find natural ways to incorporate the community into elements of your marketing without it feeling forced.
Across the country, our communities are increasingly growing more diverse. Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all way to connect with customers. Inclusive marketing is no longer optional. If you want to grow within your community and beyond, it is an integral part of long-standing success in business.