Equity and inclusivity are huge concerns in all areas of society. This encompasses both the physical and digital worlds — including social media. Thankfully, brands and major platforms alike have made significant strides in addressing problematic disparities throughout the course of the past year.
The goal: to ensure that events such as the death of George Floyd don’t merely result in hollow diversity statements. Business leaders want to learn and grow so that they provide the most impactful products, services, and content for their passionate consumers.
Instagram is clearly in on this effort. In the past year, the social media giant has acknowledged that it has often fallen short. More importantly, however, leaders at Instagram are actually making an effort to change. Hence, the creation of several initiatives that impact how small businesses approach equity in social media marketing.
The most recent among these involves a labeling feature that allows companies to let potential customers know that they are owned and operated by minority entrepreneurs. This, combined with Instagram’s other tools and resources, could make a real difference in how entrepreneurs from marginalized communities reach consumers online.
Instagram’s History of Supporting Black-Owned Businesses
Instagram’s latest labeling initiative represents the most recent of several features and programs designed to support black-owned businesses. While leaders at the social media site admit that they’ve made missteps along the way, their mission to improve digital equity and inclusiveness is commendable.
It can be argued that Instagram’s recent efforts to highlight black-owned businesses stem from the influence of social justice efforts in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. This can be seen in the stats from the past year. In the summer and fall of 2020, for example, over 1.3 million Instagram posts expressed support for black-owned and black-led businesses. What’s more, US businesses identifying as black-owned or black-led increased by over 50 percent.
Beyond the reach of the social justice movement, Instagram’s evolution has been influenced by its designated Equity team. As an update on the platform’s blog explains, this initiative was developed “to address the challenges that people from marginalized backgrounds may face on Instagram.”
Specific initiatives involving Instagram’s Equity team include:
- Machine learning model cards. This checklist aims to promote equity in machine learning. Model cards resembling questionnaires address the potential for algorithmic bias.
- Equitable Product Program. This involves assistance with product audits, which are now performed with equity in mind. Additionally, loaded terms are being removed from the codebase and renamed to reflect Instagram’s evolved approach.
- Buy Black sticker for Instagram Stories. Similar to the black-owned label, this sticker is specifically designed for Stories. Like the new label, the Buy Black sticker helps users identify and support black-owned businesses.
Other Instagram-related efforts to improve minority outcomes in the business world have largely been implemented by the visionary entrepreneurs who use the platform every day. For example, many take advantage of hashtags such as #blackowned or #blackownedbusiness. Some accounts exist purely to draw attention to inspiring business initiatives within minority communities.
How Does the New Black-Owned Business Label Work?
While the initiatives highlighted above have already made a difference, many users are unaware of these efforts on a day-to-day basis. The black-owned business label, however, provides a more visible demonstration of Instagram’s emphasis on equity and inclusivity.
Instagram’s product lead for equity Rachel Brooks explains that her team “appreciate[s] efforts to hold people and companies, even Instagram, accountable to the community that drives culture forward.” This accountability has prompted Instagram’s most noteworthy equity initiatives. Chief among these: a labeling option aimed at “creating more opportunities for economic empowerment directly within black communities.”
You don’t need to be a social media genius to make the most of Instagram’s new labeling solution. If you run a business page, you’ll find this process straightforward. To begin, simply select “Edit Profile,” where you will find a variety of options for adjusting your social media presence. From there, you can enter the “Business Diversity Info” area,
If you tap “Get Started” and reach the “Diversity Info” page, you can easily adjust the setting that allows you to show your status as a black-owned business. This will add a label to the profile for your business page. It should also provide a similar label for your Instagram product pages.
From the consumer’s perspective, Instagram’s initiative means that it’s easier to discover black-owned businesses. Not only will users observe the black-owned labels on many of the pages they casually browse, they can also check out curated collections. These are available under the Shop tab, where a wide range of products sold by black-led businesses are available.
Being featured in the Shop area could mean significant increases in traffic for business pages. This alone makes the black-owned designation worth pursuing, even for businesses that are otherwise uninterested in the social media label.
In general, Instagram’s black-owned and black-led labels are currently only available to business accounts that include shops. This may change in the future, but for now, eCommerce businesses stand to gain the most from this offering. Other types of business accounts can still attract attention with the right hashtags or Story-based stickers. Another great option: collaborating with other organizations to launch cross-promotional campaigns.
The Future of Diversity on Social Media
While black entrepreneurs have long faced significant barriers in their quest for commercial success, efforts from resources such as Instagram provide greater reason for optimism. Business leaders who make the most of these opportunities can find a passionate audience of followers, who, if presented with compelling content, will ultimately become enthusiastic consumers, and hopefully, loyal brand advocates.
It behooves brands and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to pay greater attention to equity and accessibility as they relate to marketing. This shifted focus will ultimately promote a more diverse and vibrant model, in which entrepreneurs from all backgrounds have the resources to succeed.
Keeping Up with Instagram: How Vinci Digital Can Help
At Vinci Digital, we pride ourselves on remaining at the cutting-edge of social media marketing strategies. We are up to date on the many developments within the social media world — and we can help you make the most of these opportunities so you can improve your marketing outcomes.
Are you ready to take the next step on your path to marketing success? Contact us today to learn more about our services and approach. We’d love to get you started with a consultation.
PS: What are your thoughts on Instagram’s black-owned and black-led business labeling feature? What about the platform’s other recent equity initiatives? Feel free to share your opinion in the comme