Social media has undoubtably changed every aspect of our lives and in many way this has been for the better. It is easier than ever before to gain inspiration, make new friends and learn about other people and brands who are miles away from us. The virtual world has taken away parameters and barriers but, social media, the dark side has also opened up avenues for abuse, bullying and trolling that is almost uncontrollable.
With social media companies in many respects part of a wild west system, where there are no hard and fast rules and they dangle between protecting privacy of users and protecting users themselves, it is a hard and near impossible situation to police.
In many instances, plus size women, who have especially benefitted from the rise in social media platforms – (especially when it comes to pushing plus size fashion to the fore), are also often the victims of online abuse. Putting yourself out there has also become a metaphor for being prepared to receive what other users feel they have the right to say in return and ‘health judgement’ is rife on image based social sites, and while we can’t really combat what other individual users say, we can merely seek to educate and continue to stand against them, there is a weird other avenue that seems to slip by unnoticed.
Whilst social media has been taken up by individuals in their millions, this has obviously sparked an entire new area for brands and business to capitalise on. Some have been slower on the uptake as whole new departments are set up to deal with this new marketing stream for tapping into consumers lives and with more and more us spending our time and data social platforms than ever before it is important for brands to get the message right. This is especially true for fashion and beauty brands who are selling a whole lifestyle experience to customers and tapping into their social streams not just pushing product but with inspiring thoughts and funny memes too to keep audiences engaged. This growing marketing arena isn’t an easy on to navigate and while some brands are exceeding in getting their message out without offending other brands seem to be way of course.
Once again, it has been left to those who are often ignored on media engagement to red flag brands errors as many of the youth brands still struggle to get their brand message on point.
Who are the main culprits? Now we aren’t going to specifically name names, but if your brand has a plus size line and go on about eating too much, fat shaming, or chat about clean eating and cheat days, it is quite likely that the plus size community is going to take you to task.
A multi channel brand recently highlighted a post about getting fat in a relationship and being called beautiful even though you’re a piggy – … when you have PLUS SIZE line this kinda phrasing is not going to cut it I’m afraid. And they are not the only culprit, this happens at least once a fortnight (that we see). The social marketing teams are rife with these issues.
It still shocks us that 5 years in to the social media revolution, brands are still missing the mark so massively. But all this really highlights is how ingrained diet and beauty standard culture is engrained into our sub conscious that even the social marketing team can’t see past this.
So what can we do?
Keep calling brands out. The truth is, for the most part, brands don’t mean to offend customers or potential customers. They don’t mean to type things to offend you or that will trigger readers but most of the social team has undoubtably grown up with beauty and diet culture engrained into their being. It is our job to keep reminding them when they step off the mark and help them learn so that one day, we don’t have to chastise anymore.