Social Media, Social Activism, And You

Social Media, Social Activism, and You

By Bianca Gonzalez


Activists have turned social media to document heightened injustices in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As gathering for protests and community service projects now poses a health risk, many are taking their activism online. Here’s how activists are making an impact through social media marketing, and why your brand should do the same.

Online activism isn’t a product of the pandemic; it’s been gaining momentum for decades. Activists can easily share resources like this guide to safe protests. Black Lives Matter has successfully used social media marketing techniques like hashtags to amplify marginalized voices. The relationship between the media and social movements is a byproduct of mass media at large and not just the social networking era. Omar Wasow, Assistant Professor in Princeton’s Department of Politics, has studied the media’s role on activism for decades and believes that social media allows for more people to see the reality that marginalized people face. He notes that “part of what social media does is allow us to see a reality that has been entirely visible to some people and invisible to others. As those injustices become visible, meaningful change follows.”  Wasow also adds that the video of George Floyd—taken by Darnella Frazier—being shared on social media echoes the footage of the Rodney King incident which resulted in the Rodney King Riots, and its predecessor: the televising of Bloody Sunday in Selma in 1965.

More people are understanding the power of marketing than ever before, and consumers are beginning to expect that brands use their marketing platforms to support social change as well. Researchers at Hootsuite correctly predicted that brand purpose and employee activism would increase in popularity, stating that “brands that demonstrate a positive impact on people’s lives grow 2.5 times more than brands with a low impact.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers predict that social media usage for brand research will continue in 2021. With consumers turning to social platforms for activism at higher rates, now is the time to engage in activism through personalized, accessible marketing techniques. 

Think that getting political will hurt your brand? While this was once true, it may be worse to continue marketing tactics without acknowledging current events. In May 2017, 68% of consumers disliked marketers taking political positions, but only 6 months later, 66% of consumers believed it was important for brands to take political stances on important issues. In light of George Floyd’s murder, it’s become more common for brands to directly state their support of social causes that impact Black Americans and other people of color. 

This activism-based marketing technique is a form of corporate social responsibility, which Investopedia defines as “a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public.” If you’re worried that engaging in politics will be received as a shallow, tone-deaf marketing tactic, realize that the most effective marketing campaigns are the ones that authentically impact social change. If you want to brand yourself based on positive social transformation, you need to start by being a part of the solution.


Bianca Gonzalez is a freelance writer who specializes in intersectional social justice. She’s a queer Latina feminist who beat brain cancer at 19. You can find her at

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