How brands can celebrate Black History all year

For these brands, every month is a good month to celebrate the Black community on Twitter. Get inspired.

February represents an important time to celebrate #BlackJoy. At Twitter, we want to amplify Black voices and shine a light on the contributions of the Black community. We’re excited to see many brands upleveling their Black History Month campaigns and commitments against the backdrop of a heavy year.

The past year we've seen moments that have been particularly challenging for the Black community — from the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor to the subsequent #BlackLivesMatter protests and the loss of influential Black figures like Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and John Lewis. With that came a heightened expectation for brands addressing the Black community to hit the right tone and the right messages.

Combining that context with the increased conversation on Twitter around Black History Month (a 29% year-over-year growth1), there’s an opportunity for brands to meet the moment and exceed their work from years past. We also know that Gen Z and Millennials are leading the way when it comes to the BHM conversation on Twitter, and they want to hear from brands.2

It’s been interesting to look forward toward how brands think beyond Black History Month and continuing their efforts throughout the year. Here are some themes we noticed from this year and how we’re hoping to see the conversation evolve.

Promises made, promises kept

It's important for brands to follow through on promises to support the Black community.

Prior to Black History Month, Sephora transparently addressed and communicated how it will work to better support the Black community. This was an important step in the process and encourages all brands to continue the trend toward progress. Cut ahead to Black History Month, and Sephora is using its platform to highlight Black-owned businesses and celebrate Black artists.

In July of 2020, DoorDash launched an initiative to support Black-owned restaurants and used its platform year-round to highlight these businesses. During Black History Month, it doubled down and pledged a $1 donation for each purchase from a Black-owned restaurant.

Start with the right people in the room

Beginning your campaign with diverse voices will help ensure your message will be received correctly. Co-creating with diverse influencers, creators, and employees from the get-go results in authentic content aligned to connect, regardless of what your targeted audience is.

Spotify has recruited Black photographers to curate artwork for its Black History is Now Playlists, crediting the photographers and releasing new photos each week on Twitter.

The Popeyes #SpreadBlackJoy campaign was born from insight that being able to experience and share joy is especially needed for the Black community. During Black History Month, Popeyes is donating $1 to the @beardfoundation, a fund supporting Black-owned culinary businesses. It will also be working with Black creators to #SpreadBlackJoy on the timeline throughout the month.

Coca-Cola is amplifying the voices of its leadership and partners by sharing its visions for the future. One of its subsidiaries, Sprite, had put its best foot forward in the wake of 2020 by spotlighting Black creators and has kicked off Black History Month 2021 by supporting Black-owned businesses.

The long game

For some brands, Black History Month is the only time they speak up about racial issues or amplify Black voices, but for others, it’s a part of their DNA.

Ben & Jerry’s has been a consistently bold leader and advocate for equality, and it was no surprise that the brand went big for its Black History Month activation with a billboard campaign that got Twitter talking. And now, in the middle of Tampa during Super Bowl week, it reminded everyone that Colin Kaepernick advocated for change long before 2020.

Netflix has also been commended for using its platform. In 2018, it launched a dedicated account, @strongblacklead, that consistently celebrates Black excellence and lifts up Black voices. It’s an industry standard now that has created a new market for digital outreach via social platforms across all of the major movie and television studios.

At ArtHouse, Twitter’s in-house content creation team, our mission is to design Twitter creative to be inclusive and representative in order to reflect the diversity of audiences on Twitter. We’re here to help brands find incredible Black creators and influencers to partner with, and we’re passionate about finding the most authentic voices to pair with your brand.

But here’s the thing: We do this all the time. Not just in February.

While Black History Month is a nice launching pad for brands to do the right thing for the Black community, it’s what they do after the shortest month of the year that shows what they actually value. And we’re keeping track.

Follow @ArtHouse to see more campaigns we love, creators we’d love for you to hire, and inspiration on bringing more diversity into your brand.

Theo Jones (@theoisjonesing) is a creative strategist on the ArtHouse team at Twitter after 10 years within the social media industry, working on everything from Oscar-winning movie releases to award-winning phone launches at multiple agencies. Now, he watches too many movies, and prides himself on Bjork calling him cool in 2008.

1. Twitter internal data. US only. Time Frame: 2/1/20-2/29/20. Data retrieved January 2021.
2. Twitter internal data, RTs excluded. US only. Time Frame: 2/1/20-2/29/20. Data retrieved January 2021.

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