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How to Celebrate Black History Month on Social Media

Black History Month is an annual recognition of the history, achievements, and influence of the Black community. 

But in 2021, it’s important for brands and creators to go beyond simply posting a Martin Luther King Jr. quote. Instead, it’s the perfect opportunity to educate your audience, uplift Black creators and businesses, and advocate for change.

In this blog post, we’re sharing 5 ways brands can celebrate Black History Month on social media:

Text: "How To Celebrate Black History Month on Social Media" with two examples brands can use on social media, like a quote post and a Q&A with an influencer or business-owner.

Why Brands Should Celebrate Black History Month on Social Media

A Brief History Lesson

Since 1976, each president of the United States has designated February as Black History Month.

The origin of Black History Month can be traced even further back to 1915, when an organization called the ASALH, led by Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson was formed.

The ASALH dedicated its time to researching the achievements of Black Americans and other people of African descent.

In 1926, the ASALH sponsored a Negro History Week and chose the second week of February to recognize the birth dates of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

The goal was to inspire schools and communities across the United States to organize local celebrations, activities, and lectures in an effort to teach Black history as it had never been taught before.

 

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A post shared by ASALH (@asalh_bhm)

 

Between 1926 and 1976, mayors nationwide issued annual proclamations to celebrate Negro History Week. By the 1960s, the week had transformed into a full month of celebrations and was signified by President Gerald Ford as a national observance in 1976. 

Today, Black History Month is also celebrated in other countries around the world, including Canada (who celebrate in February) and the UK (who celebrate in October).

The Importance of Celebrating Black Culture

2020 saw a resurgence in social activism and conversations about anti-racism, with many brands taking part. And Black History Month can be an extension of that. 

But in order to create genuine connections with your audience, remember to support and collaborate with Black-owned businesses, community leaders, and creators year-round. 

Diversity in marketing is important to both millennials and Gen Z. And with huge buying power, these generations will drive spending habits in the years to come. 

As you plan your Black History Month content, think about how it fits in your brand’s overall marketing strategy and how you can continue the conversation in the months to follow. 

Relive our 2020 LaterCon session with Sonia Thompson about creating an inclusive marketing strategy:

5 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month on Social Media 

  • Creator Spotlights and Q&As
  • History Lessons and Fun Facts
  • Amplify Black Voices 
  • Quote Posts
  • Advocate for Change

#1: Creator Spotlights and Q&As

Spotlighting Black creators, entrepreneurs, and Black-owned brands in your industry can be a great way to introduce your audience to people and businesses they can support.

A fun, interactive idea could be hosting a virtual Q&A event (Instagram Live, Facebook and Instagram Rooms, Zoom, etc.) with a Black creator or leader in your industry. 

For example, Refinery29’s Unbothered hosted a free virtual event with sessions featuring Black creatives like Chrissy Rutherford:

 

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A post shared by Unbothered (@r29unbothered)

Alternatively, create a carousel post series highlighting Black creators, their work, and why you find them inspirational. 

Take a look at how Adobe spotlighted creative Elissa Blount Moorhead for their #WomenCreateWednesday social media series:

 

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A post shared by Adobe (@adobe)

You can also invite Black creators, business owners, or creatives to join your podcast, like when Avery Francis joined The Papaya Podcast to discuss race, gaslighting, and diversity:

TIP: Remember to set a budget aside when working with creators. It shows that you value their expertise and time, and it can lead to a long-term partnership!

#2: History Lessons and Fun Facts 

History lessons are a great way to celebrate Black History Month on social media. 

While most brands will think to spotlight Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks, we encourage you to be proactive, do your research, and go beyond the obvious choices! 

If you’re an ice cream brand, for example, look into highlighting Alfred Craelle, who patented the ice cream scooper in 1897 after noticing the difficulties hotel waiters had serving ice cream. 

Or, if you’re a small business, you could talk about Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made female millionaire.

Work in the book industry? How about sharing books that spotlight Black fashion designers who helped shape the industry as we know it today:

These highlights can be done via feed posts, Instagram Reels, Facebook Stories, YouTube videos, or even blog posts on your website. 

#3: Amplify Black Voices and Pass the Mic

Want to use your social media platform to amplify Black voices in another way? Pass the mic! 

Do weekly IGTV or Instagram Stories takeovers where Black creators, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders use your platform to spread their message and speak about their personal experiences.

Last June, singer Selena Gomez passed the mic, and let Black activists and educators take over her Instagram account (with over 200M followers!) to share their perspectives on what was happening in America: 

 

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A post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez)

Another way to amplify Black voices? Work on a campaign with a Black digital artist to create beautiful illustrations or videos. 

For Netflix’s launch of its Giving Voice documentary, which follows students in an annual August Wilson monologue competition, they collaborated with illustrator Monica Ahanonu to create the documentary’s stunning artwork:

Black History Month is also a great time to sponsor an event created by a Black-owned business or creator. 

This allows you to support their content and community without taking up too much space.  

For example, Later is a sponsoring partner for EveryStylishGirl’s Sip N’ Slay conference to kick off this year’s Black History Month:

#4: Quote Posts

Inspirational quote posts are frequently shared on social media because they can drive engagement for brands and creators alike. 

And for Black History Month, there are so many inspirational Black voices and leaders to spotlight:

 

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A post shared by Phenomenal (@phenomenal)

You can also use quote posts as an opportunity to share what you’ve been doing as a brand since posting a black square in June 2020 and how that’ll continue in 2021.

Another way to leverage quote posts is by using them as discussion prompts. Posting thought-provoking quotes by Black voices can be used to educate your audience and encourage deeper conversations.

The Creative Collective NYC’s post generated hundreds of comments: 

#5: Support the Community and Advocate for Change

Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about local nonprofits and offer ongoing monetary support. 

For example, during Pride Month in 2020, beverage brand Sunwink donated 100% of proceeds from their Hibiscus Mint Unwind tonic to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute in efforts to support the Black transgender community: 

 

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A post shared by Sunwink (@drinksunwink)

You can also use Black History Month to highlight an issue within your industry and share how you’re advocating for change. 

If you work in the retail space, speak on the lack of Black-owned brands on store shelves, and what you are doing to address it. Take notes from Canadian book retailer Indigo who joined the 15 Percent Pledge last year:

 

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A post shared by Indigo (@indigo)

This year, as you create content to celebrate Black History Month on social media, consider these tips! And hopefully, they’ll be a starting point for creating a more inclusive social media strategy in 2021 and beyond. 

Ready to plan and schedule your social media posts and videos? Later makes it easy — get started (for free)!

 

Written By

Dante Nicholas

Dante is a social media strategist & photographer based in New Orleans, LA. He’s helped develop and manage social campaigns for dozens of clients. You can connect with him on Instagram @allthingsdante.

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