March represents a lot of things. For some, it’s time to shake off the last bit of winter and welcome spring into their lives. For others, it’s all about the green top hats and Irish jigs of Saint Patrick’s Day. But for half the population, March—or Women’s History Month—is a time for celebrating just how far women have come, and thinking about how far there is to go.
According to a Q1 2023 Sprout pulse survey, 74% of consumers believe that social media has increased accountability for brands. With those numbers in mind, hitting the right notes for Women’s History Month is imperative. But how do you create content around diversity that resonates and feels authentic?
We spoke to marketers across industries to see what their brands are planning and what they’d like to see from their peers this Women’s History Month. We’re discussing both the icks and ideals for Women’s History Month social media ideas.
Why Women’s History Month Matters
In 1980, then-President Jimmy Carter declared March 2-8 as National Women’s History Week. After realizing there’s entirely too much women’s history to squeeze into seven days, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 in 1987, proclaiming March as Women’s History Month.
The month has deep importance for women, but there’s no monolithic way to celebrate. For some women, like Alexa Heinrich, Social Media Manager at St. Petersburg College, Women’s History Month is a source of energy and pride. The collective excitement makes her feel like she can do anything. As she says, “The whole month screams, “I am woman, hear me roar,” and I love it.”
Other women use Women’s History Month as a chance to slow down.
Women’s History Month makes me stop and think. Sometimes life moves fast and you don’t stop and smell the roses. For me, those roses are recognizing the hard work and sacrifice of generations of women before me, right now and after me.
Strategic Services Consultant, Sprout Social
Women’s History Month is especially important for women holding positions that simply wouldn’t have been possible even 60 years ago, such as CEO at legacy companies like Carol B. Tome of UPS or Michele Buck of The Hershey Company. March is a time to thank trailblazers for giving women everywhere access to new opportunities. Lisa Richards, CEO and Creator of the Candida Diet, echoes this sentiment, saying, “Women’s History Month is a reminder that women have always been a force for change and that we have the power to shape the future. It’s also a time to celebrate our collective strength, resilience, and determination.”
Avoiding Women’s History Month marketing mishaps
Consumers increasingly decide who to buy from based on how a brand’s values align with their own. According to the 2022 Sprout Social Index™, company alignment with personal values is 74% more important than it was in 2021.
But it’s not enough to say you’re aligned. In an era of increased accountability, consumers want proof that businesses actually care about key issues and they don’t take kindly to lip service. Here are some tips to show your audience that you’re serious about women’s issues all year round—not just in March.
Take a look in the mirror
Have you heard of gender washing? It’s the practice of marketing your product or business as women-friendly while supporting patriarchal norms behind the scenes. Gender washing is along the same lines as “greenwashing,” or pretending your product is environmentally friendly when it really isn’t, or “pinkwashing,” which is marketing towards LGBTQIA+ folks without doing any work to stop their oppression.
Today’s savvy consumers can spot any type of “washing” from a mile away. The negative brand impact of coming across as a panderer far outweighs any benefits you may receive from making a post that acknowledges the month. As Dana Cass, the Founder of Cass Content Studios says, “Many brands would be better off not posting about identity-based celebrations if they don’t have meaningful support for that identity group.”
Before you start planning your Women’s History Month marketing, take a long look at your business. Have you taken steps to address the gender pay gap? Is your executive team and board of directors almost entirely made up of men? Do you have a solid DEI plan in place to recruit more women into positions of authority? Do you have employee resource groups (ERGs) dedicated to women in the workforce? If the answer to most of those questions is no, you might be better off sitting this month out.
If you’re in a good position to put out a message, start measuring your success. It’s not enough to say that your organization supports women in leadership. Your consumers want to know what percentage of your leadership team is made up of women, what programs you have in place to mentor early-career women and metrics for your DEI initiatives.
I want less talk and more action from brands during Women’s History Month. Don’t tell me how you’re going to support women, show me how you’re already doing that. I don’t want lip service, I want action.
Social Media Manager, St. Petersburg College
If you can’t back up your commitment, you’re better off not speaking to it. Gone are the days of posting a picture of Susan B. Anthony on Instagram and calling it a day. After years of lackluster appeals to underrepresented communities, audiences are tired of generic celebration posts.
Make meaningful connections with women
Tokenization, or using someone for their membership in an underrepresented community, is easy to spot in today’s landscape. And consumers see right through it. More than two-thirds of brands rate their external DEI leadership communication, hiring practices or growing diverse talent as good or very good.
Over half (54%) of marketers report seeing more internal and external communications about DEI programs. But only 21% of marketers report that their company has an established DEI team or program. Something isn’t adding up.
To make content that appeals to marginalized groups, you have to communicate with those marginalized groups. That means going to the women in your workplace and customer or brand advocate base and finding out what they’d like to see—not just for Women’s History Month marketing, but year-round. Your women and women-identifying employees aren’t props to be used one month out of the year. They’re valuable members of your team with insight that will make your marketing, and your company, stronger.
Reaching out to underrepresented groups can’t just be about hitting a quota or the visibility of doing something “right.” It has to be real and genuine to your brand. Do your homework, make a connection, and follow up. I see groups being used for reach and engagement, but then dropped off the face of the earth far too often. Make a long-term relationship.
Strategic Services Consultant, Sprout Social
Women’s History Month social media ideas that actually work
We’ve talked about potential pitfalls for Women’s History Month but there are just as many opportunities to celebrate. This month isn’t just about women’s struggles, it’s about our accomplishments as well. We’ve established that going generic won’t pay off, so here are some ideas to get your Women’s History Month marketing plan and social media activism started.
Show your work
If you’ve taken our advice and examined your commitment to and success with DEI initiatives, you probably have some data on hand. That data can be invaluable for your Women’s History Month content strategy.
For instance, Sprout Social’s 2023 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report shows breakdowns of the team and leadership by gender and highlights strategy and operations infrastructure efforts to move the needle. This kind of concrete content shows your commitment to women and gives a glimpse into your company culture. And keeping your customers engaged with your culture can have a big impact. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers agree that posting about company culture impacts their connectedness with the company. That connectedness directly impacts your bottom line, with 77% of consumers ready to increase their spending with brands they feel connected with.
Content about Women’s History Month — or any celebration of identity — resonates most when it comes from a company that is actually doing something to promote the well-being of that identity group. Tell me about your women in leadership or your top-tier benefits for moms.
Founder, Cass Content Studios
Teach your audience something new
People love fun facts. Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to show off your knowledge and teach your customers something new in the process.
Over half (54%) of social media users who spend an hour or more online find educational content engaging, and a comparable amount (49%) are likely to share it with their networks. There’s one caveat though. The content has to be relevant to your brand and your audience. Nellie Bly was a fascinating historical figure and an advocate for women’s rights, but unless your product caters to undercover journalism, the content will just seem generic.
Reading with RIK is a kid’s reading incentive subscription box with the goal of motivating children to read more. For Women’s History Month, they’re planning on sending out books by and about women–and sharing some of those stories on their social media accounts. Ashley R. Cummings, the CMO of Reading with RIK, thinks it’s important to educate both children and families with their product and their social media presence reflects that. Their educational content doesn’t feel forced or generic since it’s seamlessly tied with their product offering.
Express your team spirit
They say charity begins at home. If that’s true, then recognizing the power of women should begin with your team. You could spend hours researching famous women who’ve had an impact on your industry. Alternatively, you could just talk to the women who make an impact on your team every day.
Over two-thirds of marketers (81%) and over half of consumers (66%) agree that brands posting about their employees positively impacts customers’ view of their company. Posting about the incredible women on your team is not only a great Women’s History Month social media idea, but it’s also data-driven. Creating profiles of your teammates’ accomplishments, strengths, goals and stories is an excellent start for your content strategy.
It’s who you know
Your internal team isn’t the only inspiration source for your Women’s History Month social media ideas. It’s a great opportunity to highlight other women in your network, whether they’re vendors, customers or partners.
Tom Leighton, COO of Sofary, a lighting business, will be featuring women who’ve broken barriers in the male-dominated industry. Their list includes manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and distributors. His hope is that seeing these stories will inspire the next generation of women and help create a more inclusive environment across the industry.
Libby Diament, Founder and Designer of Diament Boutiques in Washington D.C., highlights strong women and women’s issues on her business’s social media pages on a regular basis. But for Women’s History Month, she’s taking it a step further by highlighting women-owned businesses in her supply chain.
But you don’t have to stop at the stories of others. If you’re a woman in business, you definitely have one too. Posting about your own journey, obstacles and achievements can be just as inspiring as reading another story from the history books. You can even take it a step further by offering your time, advice and support to women who are trying to break into your industry.
I think using your own story can be extremely effective in providing inspiration. I make sure to mention that followers can reach out to me if they have questions on how to grow a business.
Founder and Designer, Diament Boutiques
Reaching every woman
Women’s History Month is an opportunity to learn, reflect and celebrate. But just like any outreach attempt, it has to be authentic to your business and your audience. Women’s History Month represents a rich opportunity to connect with your customers and prospects. With a thoughtful approach, you can deepen your relationships with women across your network.
Is your brand ready to start addressing cultural moments on social? Learn more about how to determine which are right for you to act on.
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