Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Media – #SpeakBeautiful

Social Media gave ways for people to speak to millions anonymously.  This has given way for much more hate speech than we have ever seen before.  According to an Urban Institute study, 17% of students studied being victims of cyber bullying.  From September 2012 to September 2013 there were 9 reported teen deaths from cyber bullying.  In 2010, after 5 LGBTQ teens committed suicide over a span of 3 weeks from bullying, major figures like President Obama spoke out through the help of the Trevor Project and use of “It Gets Better” youtube videos.  These videos target hate speech and discuss how it may be tough getting through school but that it is a finite time and life outside of it will be better.  The video below is President Barak Obama’s response.

This year Dove has teamed up with Twitter to target negative tweets.  For Dove, this is an obvious choice as they have targeted women about beauty several times before.  For Twitter however, this is something new.  Over recent years they have received a lot of negative attention because of their inability to curtail bullying through their app.  In 2012, Huffington Post reported that 15,000 bullying-related texts are posted every day on Twitter alone.  In a recent attempt, Twitter has used random twitter accounts to reply to occasional users who post tweets about how ugly they are.  Through the one response saying they are beautiful, several others join in and they have seen accounts then respond positively saying that they are beautiful.  This is what led to the new program where twitter will aim people to use the hashtag #SpeakBeautiful.  The thought is if one posts positively, then a trend will start and help stomp out some of the negative tweets.  The two companies will air an ad during the Academy Awards pre-show to begin the trend.  It only takes one domino.

While this campaign is targeted at the red carpet and how people respond to the celebrities during these devoutly followed events, the ultimate goal is to create change the conversation.  Unfortunatly, the message came too late for Iggy Azalea who has quit Twitter for a while after a string of negative tweets.

This teamwork addresses the social responsibility of social media sites.  It is obvious that the legal system has not caught up with social media because it developed and has evolved far too quickly for American politics to keep up.  Until it can, it will be on the companies to address the issues the best way they can.  The responsibility isn’t just on social media websites but also on the companies that use them as well.  On Facebook and YouTube, companies provide a space for negative speech through comments on corporate posts.  Therefore, a company’s social media job doesn’t end when they post but rather continues as others respond and comment on those posts.


  1. Social media “hating” has become a bit of a sport in my opinion. Anonymous or pseudononymous sites like Twitter are worse, because people do not really associate the account with a real person. You definitely need a thick skin to use these tools, because people will be poised to bring you down if you screw up.

  2. I completely agree that social media websites should not take the burden of stopping the cyberbullying. With that, it’s good to see that there are campaigns such as “It Gets Better” and “#SpeakBeautiful” that are broadcasting their messages out to the masses. I’m not sure if you remember this from the Super Bowl, but Coca-Cola took a similar stand against cyberbullying with the following commercial:

    Even after the commercial was aired, Coca Cola went to Twitter and responded to everyone that used the hashtag #MakeItHappy (myself included). I agree with your statement that the support on Twitter against cyberbullying seems to be contagious even, and that so many people will join in to stop the hateful messages spread over social media. Using the #MakeItHappy or #SpeakBeautiful hashtags will hopefully continue decrease the negative comments spread over social media.

    Last, I think your blog post perfectly connects to @epehota‘s presentation last week on Taylor Swift and her social media habits. The way that Taylor defends her fans when others post hateful comments about them on social media speaks to the change in our society to bring light to the issue of cyberbullying. Having major figures like Taylor Swift, President Obama, Coca-Cola, and Dove show their support is definitely a step in the right direction.

  3. Great post. I think this brings up a lot of interesting points about web culture. Here’s a really interesting article from Wired about the history/social significance of Anonymous, anonymous posting, trolling, negativity, and the ‘Lulz.’ The internet seems to be caught in a dilemma between freedom of speech and freedom from hate. The government could get involved in regulating negativity, but corporations could also market differently, accepting negativity as a web-cultural given, and work their marketing campaigns in and around it, through humor, etc.

  4. This is a really great post, especially when cyberbullying is such a prominent problem in today’s society. Also great comments @mmaleri. I also liked Coca Cola’s Make It Happy campaign, but in this vein, did you see how it also backfired? Coca Cola had to stop the social media campaign because Gawker tricked the company into turning passages from Hitler’s book Mein Kampf into cute images ( The way that Gawker used this positive tool to create a negative result is petty and exactly the kind of actions that Coca Cola was hoping to curb with its campaign. Companies can definitely lead the charge to change the culture of bullying on social media, but it also requires that other companies are on board with this mission as well.

  5. It breaks my heart to see how social media users, who have the ability to spread messages of love and awareness, have taken advantage of the anonymity and use these platforms to bully others. Although these people have made such an impact as to move young teens to take their own lives, the voice of love has proven to be much louder. The response campaigns, such as “It Gets Better”, restore my faith in social media and remind me of it’s purpose. I think Dove’s campaign is also beautiful and their tweets may be that one single message that someone needs to gain a positive outlook and forget about their haters. Great post!

  6. This is a great way by Dove to align their brand image with a social media campaign. Dove is using their power as a brand to spark a positive social media campaign. I wonder if other companies as well as celebrities can join in similar campaigns. So many of these companies/celebrities have brands that they sell through their social media accounts. Over the past twenty years we have seen TV campaigns that are anti-bullying, anti-smoking, anti-abuse and so on. Now, it seems like many of these campaigns are leveraging the power of social media to reach even more people.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope brands and celebrities continue to promote positivity via social media. They can enact real change,

  7. Great post! I think it’s genius the way Dove and Twitter matched up together with this campaign. Dove has had the experience with this kind of push while Twitter has the existing platform that will take the movement to a huge scale. No only will Twitter be able to spread the message of the #SpeakBeautiful campaign, but it will also allow individuals or groups to connect who may have a common experience or passion regarding hate speech. I went on Twitter and looked at the #SpeakBeautiful hashtag after the Academy Awards and there was definitely a lot of action. I’m curious to see the implications this movement will bring and the power it will have!

  8. Great post and serious problem. Through the anonymity of social media, everyone can just say whatever he/she wants. This leads to negative comments and also threats, which is difficult to handle.
    I absolutely love Dove’s new commercial and message! I red a lot of #SpeakBeautiful posts last night and really enjoyed it. In 2 hours Dove’s tag had about 14.000 mentions, which is an incredible number. You can see, that it only takes one positive tweet to start a trend. It’s a really great use of positive marketing!

  9. I loved learning about the #SpeakBeautiful campaign! My favorite part of the Oscars last night was Graham Moore’s acceptance speech when he said “Stay weird, Stay different” He used his one minute in front of the camera to pass along an important message that needs widespread attention. His speech was responded to with a standing ovation and a ton of well deserved buzz on social media that is furthering his message. Another great social media campaign that is taking place during awards season is Reese Witherspoon’s #AskHerMore campaign. She wants women on the red carpet to be asked better interview questions than “What are you wearing?”. She even instagrammed some sample questions for interviewers to use such as “What accomplishments are you most proud of?”. While the red carpet is a fun place to see great fashion, the awards are to recognize the accomplishments of actors and actresses and they should be praised for their work, not just their appearances.

  10. Props to Dove and Twitter for taking this initiative. I believe one of the negative aspects of social media is how easy it now is to bully people and especially teens. Before, it was a problem schools had to deal with, but now anyone can bully online and anyone can be a victim of this online bullying. It amazes me how many horrible people dedicate their lives to posting degrading comments online, but even worse is the incapability of social sites to contain this bullying. I agree that until new laws and regulations can be created, it is up to companies to fight online bullying and stand up for those victims.

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