Content is king and it's very powerful. Any type of content from your business can empower your audience, but it can just as easily exclude a specific segment of your audience. Creating inclusive content is committing to equity and signals that your business is ready to provide a safer experience for everyone.
In 2020, the United Nations tweeted and advocated for a more gender-neutral language. In the same year, the Associated Press also announced that they will start capitalizing the "b" in "Black" to convey "an essential and shared sense of history, identity, and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa."
There is an existing need to create inclusive content for all businesses. While it doesn't require your brand to create huge statements like that of the United Nations or Associated Press, it will require you to think differently. You and your business should start recognizing things that you don't know and use your content, especially words, more purposefully.
Don't worry, the entire effort will be totally worth it.
What is Inclusive Content?
Salesforce defines inclusive content as "content that truly reflects the diverse communities that our companies serve. It means that we are elevating diverse voices and role models, decreasing cultural bias, and leading positive social change through thoughtful and respectful content."
Simply put, inclusive content is content that resonates with a lot of people with different and varying characteristics. An inclusive content for business is one that respects its audience regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, class, caste, religion, belief, sex, gender, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics, age, health, or other status.
Is inclusive content good for your business? Yes.
Why Inclusive Content Matters for Your Business
Any business that is involved in content marketing aims to attract, retain, and drive its audience to profitable action. As you continuously share relevant content on your blog or website, your audience will grow only if your content prompts them to connect and trust your brand. Excluding a certain segment of your audience will definitely not help your content marketing strategy.
The best way to build connections with a wider audience is to create inclusive content. For the Gen-Z audience, 64% said that they trust brands more if they advocate and represent diversity in their brand. The same survey also shows that the most inclusive ads generate more purchase intent from their audience.
With a more diverse and interconnected society, the need for businesses to be thoughtful about their messages, images, voices, and values has become more vital than ever. A business that creates a greater social impact is deemed more appealing and trustworthy by its consumers.
If your brand doesn't have an inclusive and multicultural strategy, you don't have a growth strategy.
How to Create Inclusive Content
You need to create a good balance between intention and impact when implementing an inclusive content strategy. You might have a positive intent, but the impact of your content might be otherwise.
Always remember that to create inclusive content is an ongoing effort. You will commit mistakes and you will have definite challenges. However,
the importance of inclusive content for your business should propel you to keep going and not stop when the going gets really tough.
Here's a few steps that you can take to create inclusive content:
1. Start with Your Tone
Your brand tone is the mood or emotion that you communicate via messages, blog posts, images, videos, etc. to your audience through specific word choice and writing style. Sometimes, your audience is turned off by a specific content that you shared but can't put their finger on exactly why. The key here is your tone.
You have to choose your words carefully. Different words can evoke different emotions and connotations in various audiences. Whenever possible, try to avoid using adjectives that may be alienating a specific segment of an audience that you want to reach.
There's so much more to using the right pronouns to create inclusive content. Whenever possible, try to shy away from words and phrases that are unnecessarily gendered and exclusionary. Here are some examples and the alternatives that you can use:
- Instead of "ladies and gentlemen," use "follks"
- Instead of "mankind," use "human beings"
- Instead of "businesswoman" or "businessman." use "business person"
There are also terms that give off negative connotations. They may sound harmless but have origins from harmful historical events and beliefs. One example is the term "blacklist/whitelist" which denotes discriminatory metaphors. Always avoid these types of words or phrases in your content.
2. Use Diverse References
Creating an effective inclusive content strategy means thinking beyond western norms. Using western culture as a reference is like playing an inside joke--it's funny only to those people who are in on that joke/culture.
For example, a "Turkey Race" in the United States is a race that happens during Thanksgiving. However, in Puerto Rico, a "Turkey Race" is a tradition where people race to win a turkey. If you want to be more inclusive with your content, either stop using western norms as an example (to include a wider audience outside of the western hemisphere) and use more diverse examples--or jokes.
3. Use Diverse Imagery
Use people from different cultures and backgrounds. Think beyond traditional family units and always use photos that represent people of all abilities, sizes, and presentations..
You can use the following resources to search for diverse stock photos:
You have to keep in mind that inclusive content also means helping people feel that they belong wherever they want to be, not where people expect or idealize them to be.
4. Opt for Accessible Web Design
Inclusive content doesn't only focus on text or imagery. It also has a lot to do with your website design. Since everyone accesses the internet and visits websites, you have to ensure that your website should be accessible to everyone who lands on your page. Inclusivity also means accessibility.
Your website should cater to all people with different abilities. Screen readers should be able to read your text. People who are color blind should have visual clues to find links on your website.
Implement Your Inclusive Content Strategy with Strikingly
Image taken from Strikingly
The core part of your inclusive content strategy should include creating a website with Strikingly. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Strikingly handles your design, so you don't have to worry about it.
Image taken from Strikingly
Accessibility means your website should have the right color contrast and be easily navigable. You shouldn't always rely on blue text to signify a link--an underline should always be present. Why? People see colors differently.
Each Strikingly template offers great color schemes that are sure to offer the right color contrast to make sure that your text is readable and your links can be easily spotted. Strikingly also offers simple navigation so your audience can find the information that they need fast.
2. Strikingly is ridiculously easy to use.
A blind man wow-ed his interviewers by building a website with Strikingly. This is a definite testament to how easy it is to create a site and go online if you sign up with our platform. You can easily edit your text and font style so it's easier to read and understand.
Image taken from Strikingly
You can also add alt-text to your images to help people with screen readers navigate your Strikingly-built website and describe content.
3. Strikingly websites are mobile optimized automatically.
Image taken from Strikingly
Strikingly is a mobile-first website builder. All Strikingly websites look great on mobile devices, regardless of screen size. You don't have to spend additional dollars or time creating a mobile version of your website. As well, you don't need https://m.yourlink.com to access your website on mobile devices.
Inclusive Content Strategy and Efforts Never Ends
You have to be proactive in every action that you take. Creating inclusive content shouldn't be a priority today, and hindsight in the coming days.
When you commit to creating an inclusive content strategy, talk to everyone on your team. Hold a seminar and invite a diversity and inclusion expert to discuss with everyone what it takes to be inclusive. Everyone should be on board and committed.
You, as the business owner, should always practice what you preach. You have to be inclusive in your everyday interaction, even when speaking to your employees. When needed, you have to take deliberate action to change your marketing program to make sure that you are not alienating or excluding segments or your audience.
We encourage everyone to take a proactive stance toward inclusivity. Inclusive content is not only about making your audience love you because they feel represented or seen. It's also allowing them to decide if they want to love you.