Warning: This post includes a call to action, please consider participating!
Throughout this semester we have reflected not only on the role of social media in business but also in our society. We have discussed the negative effects that social media can have on the way we interact with each other. I have chosen to focus most of my work on the role social media and digital business in social enterprise and corporate social responsibility. As a culmination of my work and the conversations we have had in class, I chose to focus my final blog on the #SpeakBeautiful campaign by the Dove Self-Esteem Project.
Dove Self-Esteem Project
In 2004, Unilever began the Dove Self-Esteem Project as a result of the increasing anxiety that young women feel towards their body image. Dove reports that “Globally, only 11% of girls would call themselves beautiful.” Their mission is to turn body image and beauty into a source of confidence for women, not of anxiety. This movement has turned into a resource for parents, teachers, youth workers, and mentors, to help change the way young women think about beauty. There is a regular blog that articulates ideas and strategies for changing this dialogue.
Most famously, this campaign issued the commercial with a sketch artist who draws women based on their pessimistic descriptions of themselves.
This campaign manifested itself on social media through the hashtag #SpeakBeautiful. Fans, supporters, and users of this movement took to social media to interact with Dove regarding the topic.
The Answer to My Model
My major project this semester has been around creating a model for the short-term corporate social responsibility campaigns. In this model, I determined that there are three main players that demand value creation, the consumer, the company, and the cause. In my previous research, I was able to find three companies who were able to satisfy two of the three participants. I was not, however, able to find a company that successfully achieved all three. In many ways I think that the #SpeakBeautiful campaign is the example I have been searching for.
Dove and Unilever make products largely for women to enhance beauty. This campaign directly aligns with their bottom line because they are engaging with consumers around a topic that is central to their products. Beyond just their bottom line, this is incredibly beneficial for Dove on a public relations level. Many could criticize the products that Dove makes as enabling this body-shaming attitude by promoting the idea that by buying their products, you too can be beautiful. This campaign fends off that rhetoric by suggesting that beauty is innate in everyone and that their products simply underscore this fact. They have aligned themselves as the forefront of the fight for self-confidence in women, which reflects positively on their business goals. They also use this platform to make sure their products remain in the forefront of their consumer’s minds.
The active consumer expects to be engaged in these campaigns and actively participate through content generation. The #SpeakBeautiful as well as several others including #BeautyStory allow customers to participate in this movement and share their own content. Dove directly encourages this by suggesting that women from around the world should share their #SpeakBeautiful moments.
Additionally, they have created interactive content such as the Speak Beautiful Effect quiz that mines a customer’s tweets for “the most positive emotion in your beauty tweets.” This suggests that Dove is actively looking for ways to directly engage consumers and help them create content.
As described earlier, Dove has created an elaborate platform that provides resources to countless individuals regarding how to promote self-esteem in young girls. Additionally, they are promoting an active change in public dialogue around how we discuss beauty. Dove estimates that they have influenced “17 Million young people in 112 countries.” 625,000 teachers and 1.5Million parents have also used their site as a resource.
My Commitment and Why
We have talked a great deal about public shaming, trolling, bullying, and countless other negative effects of social media. I felt as though it was important to end this course by committing myself to a cause that is using social media to have an incredibly positive impact on society. For the next week, until our final class, I am going to post one picture of myself on twitter where I truly feel beautiful. Starting with the picture below. I want to participate in the movement to change the conversation around beauty. I want to encourage self-esteem for women like myself and girls younger than me.
The above picture my best friend and I from our high school senior portraits.
I hope that this post encourages everyone in our class to join me by posting images of themselves where they feel truly beautiful. It can be as simple as a snap chat selfy, or can include friends and family. Social media is only as positive or negative as its users and I believe we have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate the potential for positivity. As we end the semester lets take what we have learned and apply the power of social media for good. Together we can help change the rhetoric around beauty and self-esteem for all men and women.