Business

Blending culture with your business

Imogen Davies

Social Media Expert
Blending culture with your business

In the last few years the world has witnessed a large-scale shift in cultural awareness around issues and societal imbalances that have been bubbling away under the surface for generations. Driven by online activism and other major societal events such as Covid-19, these issues have been increasingly amplified by an ever-growing audience of voices demanding recognition and, more importantly, change.

Recently, Meta (formerly Facebook) published an in-depth analysis of this cultural phenomenon in a report titled Culture Rising, in which it surveyed 36,000 people in six continents and analysed 600,000 conversation topics to uncover the key drivers behind them. In this article we are going to explore key points in this data and discuss how these issues will impact business, work life and the future of marketing and social media. 

The gender revolution and its impact on marketing

Human self-expression in many forms takes root and blossoms, bringing with it a fluid sense of identity and sparking a rise in online conversations about gender roles, gender symbols, and gender-neutral language, as the world watches gender evolution move forward. 

Growing conversations in many of the markets examined tend to focus more on gender equality, while in some Western markets they tend toward gender fluidity and the deconstruction of gender expectations and roles.

The Gen Z generation is driving this particular discussion, with a quarter of respondents expecting their gender identity to change at least once in their lifetime. These changes are manifested in language and mindset - it is becoming increasingly common within the English language for people to refer to individuals who exist outside of the gender binary with "they", a gender-neutral pronoun.

Almost half of the global survey respondents say traditional gender roles, such as the traditional male household breadwinner role, are declining - especially among Gen Z and Millennials.

Social media platforms are also contributing to societal change, with multiple platforms introducing custom pronouns to display, Facebook’s list of gender identities and TikTok banning ‘deadnaming’ - it seems that social platforms are attempting to make the internet feel like a safe space for users, and new vocabulary and educational information is now easier than ever before to access and digest.

Discussions on FB and IG


So, what does this cultural shift in conversations surrounding gender stereotypes and expression mean for businesses and brands? Simply put: more gender-neutral products and product marketing. For years, products have been marketed towards societal gender constructs and expectations - think of any yogurt advertisement targeting women as an example. This product is gender-neutral, so why is the marketing so heavily gendered? By focusing on what discussions are happening in society and paying attention to them, you’ll make for better marketed products and open new avenues for leads.

The future of activism and the voice of your business

According to global survey respondents, Gen Z and Millennials believe society is more inclusive today than just a year ago - with a resurgence of conversations surrounding pride in formerly hidden parts of identities, from bisexual pride to cultural heritage.

Communities are speaking out more openly than ever about their history and progress, including the LGBTQ+ community, Asian pride, Black History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month and other cultural celebrations.

There are still many challenges ahead, but things are already moving in a positive direction.

The growth in conversation including the term “advocacy” has grown +78% since 2020, with some of the top topics of conversation surrounding human rights, civil and political rights, police, minority groups, education and health.

The growth of empowerment has been accompanied by the rise of social media movements, such as #LoveIsLove and #BlackOwnedBusiness hashtags, as well as the amplification of boycotts, protests, and signature campaigns being shared across social media. Activists, both online and in person, help increase acceptance and inclusion in every society, even though the rate of progress can vary greatly.

Discussions on IG and FB


With society focusing on inclusivity, diversity and activism - what does this mean for businesses? Many brands and businesses already embrace and celebrate activism, and it seems that many others will discover the power in moving away from performative, token gestures to transformative action - making marketing an opportunity for real change within society. Brands should expect to embrace activism with open arms, looking at the possibility of partnering with communities relevant to the voices within their company to encourage acceptance and drive activism into the business world. 

The shift towards digital alternatives to in-person communities and connections

With the pandemic locking us away in our homes and restricting in-person interactions, the value of human connection has never been greater. From the way people use their devices to the way they meet, interact, and create with one another, modern relationships seem to be taking on a more flexible form.

The internet has become more immersive, with an interconnected universe allowing people all over the world to feel closer, no matter how far apart they are - and the sense of community online is expanding, too. More and more, people are looking for ways to connect with likeminded people - and millions of people have turned to nano-communities, with Facebook groups seeing 600 million+ people becoming members of groups applicable to their interests.

These nano-communities aren’t just applicable to Facebook groups, however. Less formal spaces such as social media hashtags, email newsletters, podcasts and audio spaces see users coming together too - welcoming people across all areas from #Crochet to #Baking to #CrystalHealing.

2021 also saw a new way of taking human connection to a whole new form: Meta introduced the idea of the Metaverse - a virtual, augmented reality. Although this exciting platform will take years to come into fruition, building for the Metaverse has begun and people are increasingly talking about what this means for the future of virtual reality, augmented reality and virtual economy.

Digital connections seem to be ever-changing both in down-time (e.g. connecting with others via Facebook groups, Twitter audio spaces etc.) and when it comes to work (e.g. Zoom meetings, working from home), leading us to believe that there’s a significant shift towards replacing in-person communication and connections with digital alternatives.

Alternative forms of connection seem to already be making a wave in the business world - with COVID-19 seeing a spike in people working from home and participating in online calls, primarily communicating with team members and clients via the internet. So much so, that #ZoomFatigue was used +57% more on Facebook in the last year, and Occupational burnout was mentioned +261% more. 

If you’re thinking about making your employees work-life balance a little easier, maybe cut down on the zoom calls… #ZoomFatigue is real, and the future for work is looking like a hybrid office-home working situation.

Discussions on IG and FB


How are people digesting content nowadays?

When it comes to content creation and how people are digesting content online, it should come as no surprise that video content (particularly short-form content) is at the top of the list for your social media must-haves. 

2020 saw the rise of TikTok, with the platform showcasing short-form video content from creators across the world. Thanks to the rise of TikTok, the platform has become the most used domain (even surpassing Google) and other platforms have noticed the ripple effect of TikTok’s success - with Instagram introducing Reels in 2020, jumping on the short-form video content trend as quickly as possible… In fact, the term “Reels” has seen a +633% increase in the last year.

Today, everybody is praising short-form video content as the number one thing to include in your social media strategy - and for good reason. Attention spans are shorter than ever when it comes to digesting content, which means content like Reels and TikToks should be a priority when you’re planning content for your brand - just make sure to do it right. Authenticity is key when it comes to promoting yourself online, so don’t try and pretend to be somebody you’re not just to fit into algorithms and trends. So many companies manage to be authentic to their brand tone of voice AND play the social media game just right.

Not only has short-form video content really taken off, but the development of augmented reality and 3D renderings means that companies are able to create a new way for their customers to “try” before they buy, such as Made.com’s virtual showroom and Sephora’s facial recognition technology allowing users to try on makeup. 

The development of these types of technology means that users are more likely to purchase products that they usually wouldn’t - with 72% of consumers actually saying that they would shop more online if they had the option to use augmented reality services, and 40% of consumers saying that they would pay more for a product that is customisable in AR.

Augmented Reality and brands


Conclusion

Right now, you have a choice: keep things as they are, or listen to the world around you. 

It’s clear that human connection, authenticity and activism are at the heart of culture as it stands in 2022. Things can only progress forwards, and it’s up to you to consider how to evolve your business alongside cultural shifts. Don’t risk losing out to newer, more progressive companies that are in-tune with these cultural movements.