Social Media Marketing Through A Feminist Lens

As business owners, entrepreneurs, or content creators, it’s essential to understand the importance of a social media marketing platform. Especially in today’s political and social climate. 

With more consumers aware of sneaky tactics, people are paying close attention to what the companies they support are saying and how they’re portraying today’s issues. As such, we believe it’s time for a revamp of social media marketing to include perspectives that were previously overlooked.

Particularly, an intersectional feminist approach to social media marketing is a breath of fresh air. More so when we’re constantly bombarded with the over-promising, airbrushed, and watered-down versions of marketing that so-called “girl boss” and “bro” experts keep trying to sell.

We are firm believers that if you know better, you can do better! Inclusive social media marketing strategies bring in and highlight diverse communities in the creation of campaigns. 

Diverse stock photos, an inclusion statement, or inclusive language in your social media strategy are a great start… but what about the deeper strategy and belonging? You can create an inclusive social media strategy with an intersectional feminist lens that represents and showcases the diversity of your audience! 

Looking to adopt a more feminist approach to marketing and social media? Keep reading for a peek at what we do.

The male-dominated world of marketing and advertising

Even before the rise of modern “bro culture” icons, advertising agencies still only focused on the white, straight, male perspective.

Think Mad Men, without the soundtrack. It was young men in suits, smoking and drinking in the boardroom, and designing a campaign for a new cookware brand that depicted a stereotypically hardworking man coming home to his adoring wife – pearls, heels, and beautiful dress under the apron – as she’s bent over the sink trying to get grease off the pans:

“Don’t worry, honey, they’re *INSERT BRAND HERE*! No need to wash, more time to get me a drink!”     

Cue the laughs of approval from Dick and Harry and the launch of the campaign. Only to have it all happen again the next day.

A viciously misogynistic cycle. 

READ MORE: How To Implement Inclusive Marketing In Your Content Strategy

But we really don’t need to go that far back in time to see that marketing is a boy’s world and that most of us are living – in pain and embarrassment – through it all:

  • Axe commercials that show women senselessly ripping their clothes off when a man walks by = because all women care about is how good a dude looks
  • Carl’s Jr. commercials flaunting “sex icons” like Paris Hilton and Kate Upton in tiny bikinis eating giant burgers on top of cars = because all women are is a piece of meat to bite into
  • Audi’s commercial that compares marrying a woman to buying a high-end car = because women are there to exist as a man’s property, after all!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in a made-for-men world. One that accepts and celebrates subtle (and not-so-subtle) representations of violence, submission, and the objectification of women. 

“But what about the #girlbosses?”

Sorry to break it to you, but Rachel Hollis and Jenna Kutcher aren’t here to save the world 🤐

Still inherently sexist, the “girlbosses” of the world scream “feminism” and “power to the ladies” while standing atop the backs of other women – usually women of color. These women of color still aren’t given the time of the day to voice their opinions, create with no restrictions, or secure a seat at the table alongside these so-called “fighters for women’s rights”. (Can you smell the “white feminism”?)

Unfortunately, the “girlboss” movement created more gatekeepers in pretty pastels, than anything else. The promise that women can be CEOs and have freedom and independence, without being asked to be softer or quiet down, empowered many women to pursue small businesses (and gave marketers a new demographic to go after). 

However, once we look deeper, it becomes clear that this “no-limits” approach was solely reserved for the ideal of the so-called “girlboss”: white, thin, well-educated, cis women. 

Meanwhile, the women who didn’t fit this mold continued to be overlooked and bullied out of the prospective “girlboss” positions supposedly waiting for them, too. 

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At the end of the day, the girlboss’ attempt to break the glass ceiling ended up in them using the shattered pieces to fend off anyone who tried to climb out with them…other women included.

Moving forward with an intersectional feminist lens on social media marketing

A half-assed approach to feminism isn’t feminism. On the contrary, it’s only damaging to the whole idea of it.

When touting feminism but refusing to acknowledge the diversity that lives within the concept, brands and businesses are reinforcing the harmful beliefs that say there’s only room for some within feminism.

READ MORE: 4 Benefits Of Developing A Unique Brand Identity

And with a new generation of consumers becoming hyper-aware of the core values that companies stand for – and if this is performative or genuine – it’s important for brands and businesses to truly put their money where their mouth is and incorporate more intersectional feminist social media marketing practices into their strategy.

Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection.
Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection.

3 ways to adopt an intersectional feminist approach to social media marketing

If you’re looking for ways to adopt a more intersectional feminist approach to social media marketing, here are 3 different things you can do:

01. Approach marketing from a human-first perspective

Social media marketing often looks at demographics to create your ideal client avatar. If that’s how you and your company are approaching social media, we’ve got some bad news: you’re probably overlooking a huge part of your community and audience. 

Instead of ONLY focusing on demographics of your audience like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Household income
  • Location

Dig deeper into the psychographics of your ideal client avatar. Some questions to get you started are:

  • What are their goals and vision?
  • What does having your product or investing in your service mean for THEM? Not only the benefits, but how this helps their life.
  • What is their cultural background?

Those questions can help you view your ideal client avatar as less of an “avatar” and more like an actual human being that wants your product or service! 

02. Don’t fake it ‘til you make it

Sounds contradictory, right? Faking it ‘til you make it can actually be harmful to your audience, community, and clients. Also, it can be harmful to YOU, as a business.

READ MORE: 3 Ways Small Businesses Can Share Their Social Impact

Intersectional feminist social media marketing, we believe, is community-centered and focused. This means you don’t have all the answers, and we don’t have all the answers, but together in community, we can co-create answers or marketing strategies that are inclusive and culturally conscious.

If you aren’t sure how to approach creating a more inclusive and culturally conscious marketing strategy, here are some ideas:

  1. Be honest with your audience and ask your community for their input
  2. Seek out diverse perspectives to make sure you’re causing as little harm as possible. That’s what it’s about, right? Doing good and being good people – to everyone, not just the people who look, think, and act like you)
  3. Pay people and credit them for their expertise and their input! Exploitative marketing is quite the opposite of intersectional feminist social media

Remember, slapping on a “pink filter” and calling yourself inclusive doesn’t mean you’ve created an intersectional feminist social media marketing plan. 

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF WHILE CREATING CONTENT THAT MAKES AN IMPACT! Our Converting Content Bundle will give you the tools and foundations you need to set up a holistic marketing strategy that’ll help you connect with the right people and start making a change!

Also, a reminder that intersectional feminism moves PAST the binary. We’re human, we’ve got layers and nuances… there’s no this or that. 

03. Take it offline

Yes, social media marketing technically happens online. However, when it comes to incorporating an intersectional feminist lens into your marketing strategy, it’s also important to take things off the Instagram grid and apply them to the real world (aka your business processes, structures, and systems)!

Think back to your marketing campaigns and strategies BEFORE they’re ever published on social media, have you reflected on and asked yourself questions like…

  • Who’s story is being told in this piece of social media content?
  • Who’s telling the story? Is it being told in that person’s perspective or from a white, heteronormative, and patriarchal perspective?
  • Who’s story is missing from the narrative?

Starting with these questions when you’re creating a social media marketing strategy helps to look at it from an intersectional feminist lens. Instead of “doing what’s been normal”, you’re putting on your critical thinking glasses and digging deeper. 

You’d be surprised how often the same stories and narratives are being shared on social media, from the same types of people…*side eye*.

Creating a culturally conscious and intersectional feminist approach to social media…

Is possible! Albeit “not natural”, considering we’ve been living in a heteronormative, white supremacist, patriarchal, ableist, classist, and racist world (there’s more to add to that list, but we’re sure you get the point)

Will it take time? Yes.
Will it require identifying your blind spots? Absolutely.
Will it make your marketing THAT much better? Well, we think so.  

Photo by Zackary Drucker as part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection.
Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection.

As business owners, we have the power to create systems change with our businesses – through the work we do, products we sell, services we provide, and how we communicate with our audience. 

If you’re looking for a good place to start incorporating an intersectional feminist lens into your social media marketing strategy, these are three good places to start:
01.  Approach marketing from a human-centered perspective
02. Don’t fake it ‘til you make it
03. Take it offline

The online business world is changing! Creating inclusive and culturally conscious business and marketing strategies can help your business connect with the right people, across the world. 

Also, we’re pretty sure it can help you increase your revenue and expand your community. Just sayin’…

What are your thoughts on incorporating an intersectional feminist lens into your social media marketing? Tell us in the comments!

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We’re a brand strategy & copywriting studio for mission-driven, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Feminist-run brands and businesses who want to increase their visibility and connect with their communities through the power of story and content. We share tips & advice on how to make marketing (and business) fun!

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