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Black History Month begins in February, a time when brands and influencers on social media put an emphasis on engaging with content and products of Black creators and businesses. However, just because it's Black History month doesn't mean it's the only time you can support them.
In this blog post, we’ll share with you the importance of getting to know these businesses and how you can use Instagram to directly collaborate and support along with our favorite brands and creators to shop and follow.
Black History Month Refresher
Just because Black History Month is trending on Instagram doesn’t mean sharing and engaging with the content and products of Black creators and Black-owned businesses should be “trendy” just for February. However, it’s still important to understand when and why Black History Month started and how brands can use this month to set initiatives and foster relationships with Black creators and brands to work within the coming months.
Because Black History Month is about celebrating the Black communities’ achievements and finding sustainable ways non-Black people can support and advocate for economic and racial justice. Some ways aside from Instagram include donating to social justice organizations, redistributing the resources, and putting money directly into Black entrepreneurs and creators' hands to promote generational wealth. Learn more about the history of Black History Month and how you can approach it thoughtfully here.
Get to Know Black Businesses and Creators
Working with Black businesses and creators is much more than a content bucket in your content strategy. Resharing Black Creators’ content or adding a product from a Black-owned business to a gift guide isn’t enough. It’s not about meeting a quota, but rather believing in the businesses you share with your followers. This is where brands and influencers need to expand their networks, seek out businesses they don’t already know, and build time into their regular workflow to find and educate themselves on new products and creators working in similar spaces. Keep these three things in mind when asking to work with Black-owned brands and influencers.
Hear Their Stories - Think back to one of your favorite brands. That brand most likely had a story that immediately drew you in. Whether it was their mission or the hardships it took to get there, they made a lifelong customer just by telling their story. This sentiment holds for Black businesses and creators too. Take your time to read or listen to each Black entrepreneur’s unique journey. Knowing what they’re about will help you find the best way to reshare their content, leading to more follow and exposure for the Black businesses and creators you share with your audience.
Know Their Barriers - Black-owned businesses and creators experience different hurdles and biases that non-Black business owners and creators don’t. For example, venture capital excludes black entrepreneurs. 1% of VC-backed businesses are Black, and 81% have no Black investors. Advocate for better funding practices because when you know something is wrong, it’s easier to drive change.
Be a Resource - If you’re in a position to support a business financially, then do it otherwise, ignite your purchasing power to help strike a greater fiscal balance by buying everyday items from Black-owned businesses.
Do Business With Black Business Owners
Black creativity knows no bounds despite several barriers in the way. Black innovators are still leading political movements, starting viral trends on social media, and contributing to music, fashion, cinema, and pop culture like no one else. It would be a privilege for any marketer, brand, or influencer to work with Black businesses and voices in media.
Start by expanding your network and channels to start working with influencers, develop partnerships, and host giveaways.
Work With Influencers
Nowadays, everyone is online. Which makes finding and contacting someone you really want to work with much more attainable than before. Start by researching your audience and finding influencers that create the type of content that appeals to your existing follower base. Micro and nano influencers are great options for this type of influencer opportunity because they’re specialists in the kind of content they create. Knowing what they’re talking about, you both can expand each other’s audiences and gain more exposure that way.
Finding brands to partner with can go a long way. This means double the exposure, breaking into new markets, and adding value to products and services. Partnerships help build trust with your audience. When a previous customer sees that you’re working with a new brand, they’re more likely to try out the brand you’re working with because they already think highly of your brand. This helps Black-owned brands by growing their customer base. Brand partnerships also add value to the product or service you are marketing. When two companies both bring something to the table, customers can find more value in the product. And when larger companies partner with brands or creators, they’re able to create some buzz around the company you’re partnering with. Earned media is precious to any company and costs zero dollars for both brands.
Hosting giveaways with Black-owned businesses helps introduce new brands, products, and services to your audience. Remember to tag the Black-owned business you're working with and use Stories, the countdown feature, and in-post Instagram messaging to hype up your followers. Maybe even have the Black-owned business owner take to your stories to explain their product and talk a little bit about their brand. It’s all about creating interest, so they will start to follow and buy from these businesses after the giveaway.
How to Use Instagram to Amplify and Support Black Businesses
Social media is a powerful tool. Not only is social media used to connect and follow the people you know online, but it’s now an eCommerce playground, a marketing tool, a place to share and advocate for political movements— the list goes on. Instagram has more than 1 billion active monthly users. That reach is essential to amplifying Black voices in your network.
How Individuals Can Support Black Businesses
Start by finding Black business owners and influencers you share a space with and then use Instagram’s built-in features for sharing these businesses and creators with your audience.
Instagram Stories - Instagram Stories are a growing feature and an easy way for followers to interact with your content reshares. Instagram revealed that 58% of people surveyed say they were more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in an Instagram Story. Start resharing content from Black businesses and creators to your Stories so users can discover and follow new brands on Instagram.
Buy Directly - In-app shopping is here to stay in 2021 and is the best way to ensure your dollars are getting into the right hands. Use Instagram’s shopping feature or a Black-owned business’s eCommerce website to buy directly, then share what you purchased on your Instagram Story.
Instagram Story Stickers - After buying a product or service from a Black-owned business, make sure to share it in your Stories. You can do an unpackaging at home and then incorporate the “#BuyBlack” Sticker, leading followers directly to their Instagram Shop page or their account where they access the website. It’s better to shop small. And with Instagram’s addition of the links stickers via IG Stories, it’s easy to link websites or products directly to your story no matter the account.
How Brands Can Support Black Businesses
Instagram has created several tools that make it easy to incorporate Black businesses, creators, and voices into your content that’s not only easy but effective too.
Instagram Live - Instagram Live has been around for a while, but with stay-at-home orders in place, Live has gotten its fair share of usage, and we don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. Not only can you host your own IG Lives, but you can invite brands and creators to co-host. Create a content plan for your IG Live and go from there. It can discuss a partnership, a giveaway, important social media topics, or even virtual events you might be having with the Black-owned business or creator you’re working with on this. Remember to share your Instagram Live to your Stories once it’s over so your followers can see if they could not tune in or reshare to their Stories. Check out to get started on Instagram Live here.
Instagram Badges - If you're looking to support creators on Instagram, learn more about how to use Instagram Badges, a new feature on Instagram that allows users to "tip" their favorite creators via their Instagram Live. This is a great way to directly compensate these creators for their work and content.
Virtual Events - Virtual events have become big this year and are great ways to lead discussions surrounding industry topics like social media activism, allyship, and more. Hosting virtuals events allows your followers to virtually meet the Black entrepreneurs and creators you’re working with. Not only does this build trust between you and your new partnership or influencer relationship, but it helps grow the Black-owned business’s follower base and increase sales.
Content Series - Creating content series that highlight black brands and creators are an opportunity for you to find and connect with brands and creators yourself. It also can lead to Story takeovers, partnerships, and inspiration to show your audience. Some examples of content series highlighting Black run accounts are PLANOLY’s “Creatives We Love” and “Share the Mic.” Not only do they expose your followers to new creative talent, but they also give these Black creators and brands a direct line to your audience to discuss their story and where they can purchase or get involved.
Instagram Reels - Use Instagram Reels to partner with Black creators or Black businesses. Not only do Instagram Reels get more engagement, but the algorithm also prioritizes new features in order to encourage user adoption. Video content gets more engagement also because users have to spend more time watching a video versus a static post.
Credit Black Creators & Compensate - Creators create a lot of popular trends, especially popular video trends. Aside from video trends they also create a lot of beautiful content that brands reshare on their accounts. If you decide to do this always ask for permission first and then credit the creator/ compensate them before using. You never want to take content, you didn't create and pass it off as your own or it be unclear whose it is.
Black Businesses & Creators to Follow on Instagram
Here are some of our favorite Black-owned businesses and creators to follow online:
Clean Foodie Cravings by Charlotte Smythe
SustainAble Home Goods by LaToya Tucciarone
Beleaf in Fatherhood by Glen “Beleaf” Henry
Mecca James-Williams @meccajw
Peyton Dix @peytondix
Taylor Roberts @fakeroberts
These are just some of the many ways you can support Black-owned businesses online, but remember to continue educating yourself to create a sustainable way to uplift these businesses long after Black History Month is over.
Originally published on February 10, 2021, and since been updated on January 14, 2022.