To kick off our Know Your Orbit Grow Your Orbit event series, we sat down with some of our Norby crew members to get real about all things communication. When building a brand or community, the ways we communicate with our audience matters now more than ever. The last year has revolutionized the ways that communities and brands use social media to communicate information inside and outside of their brand--from social justice and corporate responsibility to new product drops and brand milestones. Social media is essentially the giant loudspeaker megaphone for brands and community builders to shout to the world who they are, what they stand for, and what they have to offer. This can be a double-edged sword in a lot of ways, as the last year has proved.
How do we navigate when it is time to speak up, or when to shut up and listen? How do we make communication ethical, inclusive, and effective? To shed light on the ways communication affects brand building, moderator and journalist/filmmaker Sophia Li spoke to Norby crew members Shanika Hillocks, Hannah Gottlieb-Graham, and Devin McGhee.
Shanika is a NYC based writer with a ton of experience in digital and marketing strategy. When she is not writing about food and beverage, lifestyle, and travel, she is the head of influencer marketing at Gallo Winery.
Hannah is the founder and director of Alma Communications, a boutique PR agency that operates at the intersection of contemporary art, fashion, beauty, and social justice based in Brooklyn, New York.
Devin is the co-founder and CEO of Deon Libra, an adaptogenic beauty and wellness brand that works to educate consumers on adaptogens and other wellness practices. Devin’s goal at Deon Libra is to help customers relieve stress and care for their bodies.
Sophia is a multimedia journalist and filmmaker. She is also a host of All Of The Above TV, a show that aims to address the most provoking questions surrounding climate change and social justice.
A major point of conversation in the panel touched on ethical marketing practices. What makes marketing ethical? A lot of the time it comes down to authenticity--especially in the social media space. While social media is a powerful marketing tool, it also comes with its downfalls.
The amount of public statements made by brands via Instagram in the last year has made most of us completely exhausted. It seems that every day that passes, a different brand has something to say, an apology to make, or an opinion to give. This narrative is especially relevant in the midst of the racial injustices seen across the world in 2020. In turn, the last year has shed light on these types of injustices within the brand, influencer, and social media space. Brands have taken to social media to show their solidarity, apologize for wrongdoings, and display support. The million dollar question, though--is it genuine, and more importantly, is it necessary? Are brands complicit if they stay silent?
There is a major difference between being a real ally and displaying allyship for the sake of your social blade. The last year has shown us that a lot of brands genuinely want to move the needle forward in terms of creating a more equitable space overall, but it has also shown us the flip side of that. Performative allyship is alive and well, and there are plenty of brands out there that will continue to post about social issues without putting in the real work behind the scenes. What does this mean for those who are truly interested in doing the work?
Overall, this very real and honest conversation has emphasized how important being considerate and thinking around and through all the edges should go into communication as well as knowing who you are for and not for. As brands and community builders, there is a responsibility now more than ever to creating communication lines that are ethical, equitable, and effective first internally and then externally. Quality communication comes at the intersection of authenticity, education, and consideration. Perhaps the most important takeaway, though, is that actions speak louder than words.
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