Last week I read two great blog posts about diversity in social media thought leadership by Jay Baer and Danny Brown. Both are great posts and raise some really great questions about issues social media marketers and business leaders need to keep in mind. However, they made me think of my own experiences with diversity.
I am as privileged as any white male in American society. However, I am gay, which is an entirely different kind of minority status. When I read about diversity, I think about the subject in broader terms than just race alone.
Online, it’s easy to think about race in terms of diversity. Everyone is an egomaniac, so their avatar, their Facebook profile, and their blog is filled with their picture. You make a judgement of what race they are based on what you see and then move on from there. Sexuality is something completely different. Unless I am puking rainbows in the pride parade and post a million photos about it, I look like every other geeky white male with a social media blog. My minority is invisible until I start talking about it.
What is most interesting to me about sexual diversity online is how it is treated on Facebook. Facebook doesn’t see racial diversity. You don’t enter your race when you sign up for Facebook. Facebook doesn’t classify and segregate you by the color of your skin. Only Facebook users classify other users by race.
But, if you choose to enter the information, Facebook classifies you by your sexuality.
I may volunteer this information, but by doing so, the factor that makes me a minority is public knowledge. Even if I don’t enter that information and state I am in a relationship with another man, my status becomes known.
And once this is known by Facebook, it starts targeting you based on your sexuality like a shark that has caught the scent of blood.
Even after being in a domestic partnership with my cat for two months (who is listed as female), I still get ads that are targeted at gay men. Ads for websites like “Bear City.” Ads for “Pants that give you a Great Butt.” Ads for “Cute, sexy underwear.”
This is horrific. As marketers, why do we find it acceptable to target someone on ANY minority status? Why is it OK to target a woman because she is a lesbian, but not because she is black?
Imagine if one of these ads that targets gay men gave me a discount code and I use that discount code. Now that institution knows my minority status. They can’t target you because you are black or white, but they can capitalize on every penny because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight.
We can talk all we want about diversity online and the need to include people of different races and sexualities. Those are always good things to have at the top of mind. Today we can make an immediate difference. Marketers: stop targeting Facebook ads based on sexual identity. Tell Facebook is it unacceptable to target people based on ANY minority status.
Start thinking about diversity beyond just what you can see on the outside of a person, and start thinking about the whole of their life. There’s more to any person than the tiny portrait they present online and the color of their skin in that avatar. As leaders on a new frontier, it is our duty to lead the way on this issue. Stop discriminating, and do a better job.