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Navigating EDI on Social Media
SFU’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion should be represented in everything we do as communicators, including what we post on social media. Here’s an overview of topics such as considerations for content, stereotypes, engaging with your audience and gender-inclusive language.
RECOGNIZE YOUR ROLE IN EDI
Before diving in, it’s important to take a step back to determine your role in EDI, how you should engage in this conversation and what your audience is expecting from you in terms of support and resources.
- Where does it make sense for us to weigh in on the conversation about EDI?
- Where are there gaps in our institution’s education and how can we improve on it?
- What questions might our audience have right now where we could provide helpful, valuable insight?
- How can we be there for those in the SFU community who are looking for support or resources from us?
WRITING: STEREOTYPES, TOKENISM, & GENDER-INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE
Using gender-inclusive language refers to the practice of speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity, and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.
It is important to incorporate gender-inclusive language, and avoid the use of stereotypes and tokenism when writing copy for social media. Check out our gender-inclusive and antiracist writing guide for more information.
You can also check out the Delta Airlines case study for a specific example of stereotypes in media.
IMAGERY: IMPROVE REPRESENTATION
The visual representation of inclusion and diversity at the university is an essential part of storytelling.Think about how your social media image could possibly enforce or perpetuate racial stereotypes.
- Choose your models and subjects with intention.
- Subject diversity and prioritization of marginalized groups should be top of mind.
- Credit BIPOC and other underrepresented groups for their contributions.
- Enlist your followers. Seize the opportunity to curate and include the work of underrepresented networks and their followers.
Check out our EDI photography guide.
RESPONDING TO BEING CALLED OUT
A major barrier to engaging with EDI work is the fear of making mistakes or being called out, especially in the public space of social media.
Key aspects of an effective response include avoiding a knee-jerk reaction and consulting resources such as our social media decision tree, acknowledging the impact of your actions, taking accountability and planning for change.
Show, Don't Tell
Make a plan to highlight your actions and ongoing EDI work as part of your social media strategy. This could focus on internal education, sharing relevant volunteer opportunities and highlighting EDI actions or commitments within your faculty, department or unit.
Before You Post
It’s important to remember that your approach shouldn’t focus only on sharing the EDI work your brand is doing. Instead, your approach should focus on how you bring the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion to all of the work you do. All of your content and initiatives should be evaluated through that lens, even when they don’t specifically relate to your brand’s EDI efforts.
How to prepare:
- First, talk with your team about the potential for missteps. Together, you can come up with a social response plan that covers who to inform if negative or constructive feedback appears, who responds or approves responses and anything else your team deems helpful.
- Make intentional space in your strategy for feedback to learn from your experience.
- Accept criticism with an open mind and a goal of understanding.
- Be brave and prepare for mistakes. You will mess up, and you will need to bring it up to leadership when it happens in order to have productive conversations and move forward.
When developing campaigns and content, ask questions such as:
- Are we appropriating elements of a marginalized culture?
- Are we using insensitive language or phrases that have racist origins or insensitive connotations?
- Are we amplifying the voice of someone who is considered racist or harmful to the BIPOC community?
ACCESSIBILITY IN SOCIAL MEDIA
Accessibility in social media can include the use of image descriptions, closed captioning on videos, transcriptions, prompt media in caps, hashtags in sentences and different types of media.
If you’re interested in learning more about these topics, or other content considerations related to equity, diversity and inclusion, please visit the Resources section of SFU’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion website.