Content will always be king when it comes to marketing. However, there is one aspect that ensures your king stays king: diversity and inclusion. Why are these two facets of content so important?
WHY IS DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IMPORTANT IN YOUR CONTENT?
The answer is simple, and it boils down to this: your audience members want to see themselves in your content. They need to form a connection to what you are trying to tell them. More importantly, they need to know that they are being heard and understand their worries, anxieties, dreams, and needs.
Audience members need to see that they are included in your content: physically, geographically, socially, psychologically, etc. Moreover, they want to see more than just themselves; humans are social creatures. They want to hear voices of more than one type of person in your content for the content to feel right. They want to see content that resonates with people of all backgrounds, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, religion, physical and mental ability.
That can only be achieved if your content is both diverse and inclusive. Easier said than done; we provide you with a quick checklist to ensure that your content is inclusively diverse.
11 Key Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Did I research my audience?
The first step to being inclusive is to research your audience. Look beyond the available data that merely document gender, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. Dig deeper and immerse yourself in your targeted audience. Conduct meetings, focus groups, visit workplaces, attend community events, and handpicks those unique characteristics of your audience that cannot be identified by demographics. Do this, and you are one step closer to genuinely diverse content.
2. Did I develop my audience personas?
Once you have researched your audience, did you develop accurate personas? Did you take into account their needs? Their desires? Their anxieties and worries? Only after developing specific personas can your content become truly inclusive and diverse.
3. Did I update my personas?
Creating your personas is not enough. One must continuously revisit, re-adjust, and re-create the personas. Humans are not static beings; they always change as a result of both internal and external factors. For instance, in this post-Covid era, audience personas must be updated to align with the new status quo. People are not the same; they used to be four months ago, nor will they likely be the same as the economic and social aftermaths of the pandemic unfold. If content needs to be diverse and inclusive, audience personas must be continuously revisited and updated.
4. Did I look at the makeup of my content marketing team?
How well does the makeup of my content marketing team reflect diversity? How inclusive is my club? Diverse content cannot possibly result from a homogeneous team. If the team is not diverse, an option would be to hire freelance marketers for specific projects. Cross-cultural brainstorming from marketers around the world is a step to ensure that the team becomes more inclusive. If the freelance writers also are geographically located around the world and not merely come from different cultural backgrounds but live in the same area, the team also becomes more diverse.
5. Did I avoid assumptions?
Content writers and marketers should avoid assumptions and instead question what they know. This requires a shift in thinking and a parting with pre-existing biases. To rid your of your assumptions, you need to research. If your content is in full alignment with your existing assumptions, you should probably take another look at it, because it is perhaps not as diverse as it should be.
6. Did I address each of these topics?
Diverse content should consider the following broad topics that make people unique and different from one another:
Ability and Disability
7. Did I stop at text?
Did my inclusion stop at text?
Does my content make actual accommodations for people with sight or hearing impairment?
Have I considered the needs of these people?
Content writers often ignore the fact that inclusion should not stop at the text. Diversity and inclusion are not synonymous. Diversity is the what whereas inclusion is the how. If my content has stayed at the what but ignored the how then my content, in reality, is neither diverse nor inclusive.
8. Did I overdo it?
Marketers should not try too hard to show off their content as diverse because they ran the risk of going overboard. Too much unnecessary and pretentious diversity can also offend people and seem less than genuine. Pretending to be diverse is equally offensive as a lack of diversity. For instance, beard products do not apply to women. They would be ridiculous to include them in your marketing content just to make it diverse and inclusive. When culturally appropriating content, one must be careful not to usurp things from a culture that is not your own. Especially if you lack a thorough understanding of it. There is a delicate threshold between too little, just right, and too much. Don’t step over it.
9. Did I recognize the difference between primary and secondary sources?
The important thing here to note is the difference between primary and secondary sources. A secondary source would be a history text book on WWII. A primary source would be the memoirs written by a Holocaust survivor. In order for my content to be really inclusive, I must recognize the difference between the two sources. Using secondary sources will touch the basics of informative knowledge. Using primary sources will ensure that I know what real people think, feel, how they act and how they experience and react to certain events.
10. Did I treat my characters as individuals?
Did I treat my characters as individuals, or have I used them as ambassadors of an entire group? At the altar of diversity, we often sacrifice individuality. We make a mistake to stereotype and to treat our audience as homogeneous within their group as long as we recognize its heterogeneity with other groups. Sacrificing individuality immediately cancels any attempts at diversifying content.
11. Did I ensure that my content stays close to the truth?
Diverse content resembles the world we live in. When producing content that ignores self-evident truths in an attempt to beautify it, we are left with rich content that is unrealistic and untrue. Diversity is not about creating an idealized picture of the world. Not all women are tall, thin, and gorgeous. Not all couples are happily married, live in a four-bedroom house, have two kids (preferably one boy one girl), and a stunning golden retriever that never sheds. Diversity needs to resonate with the real world, even when the real world is not as beautiful as we would like it to be.
If you want your content to reach out to a broad audience, it needs to be inclusive and diverse. It is an exciting time in content creation. A focus on diversity and inclusion is paramount and has come to the forefront of our attention. Why? Because inclusion and diversity is the only way for our content to be authentic. Granted, content is king, but providing a diverse and inclusive content is the only way to make sure that your kingdom does not fall.