When I started working in marketing, I came in with the most general and common questions: who are the target personas? what is the customer journey? where is this audience? what campaigns can I create in order to attract this target audience? Though after being in marketing for a couple of years, growing my circles with so many marketing folks- I have come to realize that there are 2 parts of marketing that nobody talks about, teaches, but everyone has to keep in mind. Many products quickly fail because they lack these two big elements: awareness and accessibility. We need to start also asking ourselves “is this campaign accessible”, “is this campaign tone deaf?”, “are we being aware of the current climate when releasing this campaign?”.
I loved doing my undergrad at Hult International Business School, I learned so much from the most amazing professors. Every single class I took in my 3 years was business oriented and taught everyone about how to get the skills that a company would want. Though it took me time in the field outside of school to realize that the most important parts of marketing can’t be taught in a class, and neither is it widely discussed.
Everyone knows about the infamous Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner. This ad was lacking social awareness, and for lack of a better term- tone deaf. The Black Lives Matter protests are extremely important and they are many times dangerous and deadly for those protesting, but these humans are there to stand up for the Black community’s rights. Though, Pepsi completely missed the mark and created an advertisement that was extremely tone deaf. As marketers we need to work on creating campaigns that promote equality. Therefore, being socially aware is extremely important. Marketers need to check every social post, headline, and promotional material over 10 times to make sure that it’s not tone deaf. Huffington Post has a whole list of tone deaf ads which caused many products and companies to receive major backlash. Back when the Black Lives Matter movement was taking place globally, I was in a groupchat with marketers from every industry- there was a large amount of anger amongst many of them because their managers were making them release content during a crucial and important time. Basically, people were fighting for our Black community’s rights while companies wanted to continue to promote their brands. As a viewer of these ads I saw the large amount of comments and backlash that these brands received when companies released content. Marketers, we need to look at every campaign with every angle, think of any small criticism and figure out how to solve it. In simple terms, being tone-deaf will get you cancelled online. More importantly, people remember the bad things a brand does more than the good.
Accessibility is still a topic that is not talked about or understood well. Many of us, including me, are still learning. Some things that everyone, not just marketers can do immediately: add alt-text to all your photos, memes, and images that you post. The best way to alt-text is by imagining that you are on the phone with someone, try to explain the image to them. Rather than writing an image is a mug, write that the image is a white mug with a gold handle filled with coffee on a white counter against a white wall. As we work on making the world an equal playing field and creating a space for all, there are many companies and products that are not doing well because of it being inaccessible and accessibility being an afterthought. A prime example of this is Twitter; Twitter launched “voice tweets”. This is a feature that is extremely inaccessible for those that are deaf or hard of hearing because these voice tweets don’t allow for captions. Many people spread this information immediately after the feature was pushed onto all accounts which caused people to either not post further voice tweets or consider not making a voice tweet at all. This push for captioning on videos has made its way to Tiktok as well, large Tiktok influencers are using captions in their content to make sure it is enjoyed by everyone. Those influencers and Tiktokers with a large audience who don’t put captions are immediately filled with comments by viewers asking for a re-upload. On Youtube, there is usually a transcript that will allow people to read what is being said, though putting your own captions is highly encouraged because it is more accurate (slang, names, and abbreviations are usually not caught accurately via the automatic captioning software. If you are looking for a way to make your work more accessible, there are many companies out there, Stark is one of the well known companies that I support. Stark is focusing on creating accessible softwares and tools for people such as designers, developers, and product managers to use.
Older generations of marketing talk a lot about how the future of marketing is social media. Social media marketing isn’t the future, it’s the present. Now that we are online and promoting content via different channels it is important that we cover our bases to always encourage an equal platform that is considerate of the social climate. The future of marketing will be accessible and aware, but we have to start now.
If you are posting videos online here are some resources to help with captioning