Social media is full of ugly language. As social media and content marketers we try to steer our campaigns towards positivity, but the unfettered nature of most social media channels tends towards negativity. It's like the whole of social media is at the same level as a couple of people sitting on a park bench, making catty comments about those passing by.
One company that is trying to change the way we view beauty is Dove. Their most recent campaign saw them partnering directly with Twitter for this year's Oscars, a notorious time for making snarky comments about women's bodies and fashion sense, to bring about more positive discussions with their #SpeakBeautiful campaign.
What is the Dove #SpeakBeautiful campaign?
Dove has been doing a lot of work, both in their online content marketing and in their offline marketing, to change how women view themselves and how people speak about women. Their 'Real Beauty' campaign has been going on for some time now. The #SpeakBeautiful campaign is similar in the idea behind it, but different in execution.
The first aspect of this campaign was a rather bland video with some interesting facts. It was released on Friday, February 19th, just days before the Oscars on Sunday, February 22:
The highlighted point is the '5 million negative tweets.' This is why they have teamed up with Twitter directly, rather than keeping it in-house. They claim to be using some sort of 'technology' that will be helping them find and address negative tweets. It's likely just a program that works with Twitter's advanced search API, you can search by keyword and tone of message there already.
To quote Dove themselves:
"When a negative tweet is posted, the technology will be used by Dove to send non-automated responses to real women, which include constructive and accessible advice to encourage more positive online language and habits."
What I like about Dove's #SpeakBeautiful campaign
I can not begin to express how much I agree with this campaign's overall message, even if it turns out to be a losing battle. I am what they call a 'sneakerhead.' I have a shoe collection, mostly Air Jordans, that is bigger than my girlfriend's shoe collection. The recently released Adidas Yeezy Boost prompted a torrent of hate across the community. I was there asking people why they didn't just ignore the shoe and talk about something they did like? Why be a hater?
Encouraging positive discussion is something I try to do in my little community, and I'm glad to see a company with the pull of Dove trying to do the same on a much larger scale. Besides the 5 million negative tweets statistic, here are some other things Dove found out:
8 out of 10 women have encountered negative comments towards women's appearance on social media
Women have a 50 percent better chance of saying something negative instead of positive about themselves on social media
82 percent of women feel that beauty standards set by social media are not realistic
4/5 negative tweets about beauty and body image issues are women talking about themselves
This has gone beyond my analogy above of a couple making catty comments, people are publicly abusing themselves routinely. It's becoming commonplace for people to talk poorly about themselves online. That is a shame. I'm awesome. I'll tell anyone.
Prior to the event, Twitter was full of noteworthy brands and people making the pledge to #SpeakBeautiful:
With this push it will be interesting to see how this goes in the long term. For now, here are some of the reactions given during the Oscars, the last photo will be an actual example of what Dove was doing:
What I don't like about Dove's #SpeakBeautiful campaign
It would be pretty silly of me to trash the message, but the execution could have been a little bit better. I think they should have taken it in one of two directions:
Totally Beyonce blindside everyone and not say a word of what they're doing. When all of these messages start popping up it could have potentially caused a bigger stir during the moment, rather than the little bit going out here and there over popular accounts with women.
Work it up sooner. Releasing the video two short days before the Oscars to start the build seemed like too short a turnaround time. Even beginning it on Monday, so it had a full week to make the rounds and get more average users aware of it, could have made a big difference in participation from people who weren't celebrities, or other brands.
As it stands, they went the middle route and I think it's weaker for it.
Going forward, I hope this is something they bring out during other major fashion moments so that the push for more positive discussions online continues. They have pushed the Real Beauty campaign on an ongoing basis, hopefully this one sees more 'air time' until there's a self-sustaining push for negative comments to become less prevalent. Maybe, one bright shining day, we'll even see the end of 'Fashion Police.' One can dream...
In a final look back, anyone who is ever trying to work on women's body issues is succeeding. Even if this isn't a resounding success, and time is the only measurement that will tell, it is still another step forward towards a greater acceptance of positivity as the only way forward. Your own online content marketing must reflect this in the messages you personally send out. Actively encouraging your followers and fans to do likewise is the icing on the cake. Very thick icing.