As brands either dip their toe or jump right in to the Pride Month pool on social media, it’s quickly becoming a lesson in authenticity.
Many companies are taking June to share proceeds with a trusted LGBTQ-friendly foundation, or celebrating their diverse employee base.
Others see Pride Month as a cash grab, adding the colors of the rainbow to their logo or selling colorful merchandise without a charitable effort.
— dogeposting (@dogepoesting) June 2, 2019
The LGBTQ market is a strong one — growing in influence and spending power, so it’s natural that many companies would do what they can to sell to this demographic.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce cites the community’s spending power at $917 billion. As cultural attitudes shift, brands are learning how to market to the LGBTQ demographic and embracing the rainbow more than ever.
Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or a Fortune 500 brand, you need to be transparent and authentic when marketing to LGBTQ consumers on social media. Here’s how you can improve your current strategy or be prepared for next year.
1) Donate to an LGBTQ-friendly foundation
This is one of the simplest, most effective ways to authentically market your business on social for Pride Month. If you’re a small business, find a local charity or foundation that helps the LGBTQ community. There are also several nationally recognized foundations (such as The Trevor Project) that you could donate to.
— Florida Mayhem (@FLMayhem) June 4, 2019
You can promote that proceeds from a specific item will go to that charity. In general, it helps to say how much of the proceeds will go to the foundation, whether it’s a percentage or set dollar amount per sale. This gives your fans trust that the money is going to a good place, rather than just a vague promise.
— American Eagle (@AEO) June 5, 2019
As with any other demographic, LGBTQ consumers want to see that they’re not just being sold to as part of a trend.
View this post on Instagram
A collab and a celebration all in one. 🌈 This year we've teamed up with musicians @teganandsara for our most colorful collab yet. For every rainbow flatform sandal sold, we’re donating $15 to the @teganandsarafoundation for LGBTQ+ youth to attend summer camps that boost confidence and leadership skills in a nurturing environment. Shop here: http://bit.ly/teva_pride. #strapintofreedom #Pride 📸: @steveakation
2) Foster an inclusive culture
Another way to be authentic during Pride Month is to highlight your company’s efforts in fostering an inclusive culture and being a destination that’s welcoming for employees of all backgrounds.
Using social media to showcase your business as a welcoming space for talented, dynamic LGBTQ employees makes your company much more versatile and diverse. Potential employees who might not have considered you otherwise may now check out your careers page, putting your business on the radar of more people.
While it’s good to show that your company is inclusive and accepting, don’t single out your LGBTQ and ally employees, but let them share their stories, if they volunteer. It has to be more than empty platitudes or photos of employees at the local Pride parade.
Ensuring that you have an inclusive culture (not just putting up a front on social) signals to the LGBTQ community that you actually care about them beyond sales and subscriptions.
3) Don’t just slap a rainbow on & call it good
If you’re not able to designate an item to sell, with defined proceeds going to a foundation, and you don’t have an LGBTQ story ready to share, it’s okay. You can still share a photo or graphic sharing your support of Pride Month without some kind of hard sell.
Where some companies err is thinking that Pride Month is the time to make money off rainbow-themed merchandise or check a box after they’ve added rainbow colors to their profile logo.
If a store doesn't donate the proceeds from it's Pride collection to a LGBTQ+ organization don't shop at that store.
— abby russell (@ybbaaabby) May 31, 2019
On social media, the clap back against companies who simply see the LGBTQ community as another customer has been strong. Much like how many brands commercialize pink items with vague support of “breast cancer awareness,” yet don’t explain how the proceeds help, companies can commit a terrible error by selling the rainbow without the support.
Does anyone care if I make a list of corporations that support charities like @HRC /@TrevorProject And ones that don’t? Like buying from @Gap supports the UN LGBTI but @Walmart doesn’t have any indication on their website that the money goes back to the community.
— Post 🏳️🌈 (@vaakser) June 7, 2019
An important part of marketing to LGBTQ consumers is to show that you’re supportive all year long, not just in June, when #PrideMonth is trending.
By Justin L.