The paradigm shift began on May 25, when police officers murdered George Floyd on a Minneapolis street in broad daylight. Since that day, there’s been a dramatic rise in the number of voices engaging with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. This has been extremely evident on social media, in particular via the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
At Kivvit, we’re committed to creating change and improving the communities where we live and work. With this in mind, we used our award-winning data expertise to produce a groundbreaking report exploring the rise of social media engagement with Black Lives Matter following George Floyd’s murder to understand how the movement has grown and the digital drivers behind it.
Our research also assessed Black Lives Matter content on Facebook from over 1,100 brands and institutions to develop a playbook for communicating about social and racial justice.
When looking at the bigger picture: Given the data we found, as well as the rifts and inequities the Black Lives Matter movement has exposed, and the continued violence against Black Americans, we believe involvement in social issues goes beyond boosting social followings. In a society where a large segment of the population has been systemically shut off from access to so much, there’s a moral imperative to do the right thing and speak out.
The overwhelming insight from our data indicates the Black Lives Matter movement now has the diverse support to continue shaping our society for years to come. However, continued activism — from the top-down and the bottom-up — remains critical to creating lasting change.
KEY INSIGHTS IN THE REPORT
Kivvit evaluated Facebook pages from a diverse array of leading brands, corporations, nonprofits, colleges and universities, sports teams, and healthcare institutions to understand how the Black Lives Matter coalition has expanded since May 25. Of the more than 1,100 entities analyzed, 24% posted expressly about Black Lives Matter in recent months — a nearly threefold increase compared to the first six years of the movement.
Major league sports teams saw the most dramatic increase in engagement with Black Lives Matter content between May 25 and August 31, and they were the most likely of all categories analyzed to engage.
Organizations aren’t simply posting about #BlackLivesMatter at higher rates. Their content is also receiving above-average engagement in every category, reversing a trend of Black Lives Matter content underperforming before May 25. In addition, sentiment analysis found Facebook users have had an overwhelmingly positive response to Black Lives Matter content posted by the entities reviewed.
KEY INSIGHTS BY SECTOR
Non-Profit: Many of the most-engaged posts from nonprofits underscored how Black Lives Matter is integral to a diverse range of missions, including: public health (Doctors Without Borders), reproductive justice (Planned Parenthood), wildlife conservation (World Wildlife Fund), and youth empowerment (Boys & Girls Club and Girl Scouts). Of the 15 organizations behind the most-engaging posts, just one entity — YWCA — has racial equality in its core mission.
Top Brands and Corporations: The most-engaged posts from Fortune 500 companies and YouGov’s 150 most popular brands contained either a statement from the company’s top executives or announced a tangible commitment to advancing racial equality. One of the most-engaged posts from any brand or corporation since May 25 was Ben & Jerry’s direct and powerful statement, “We Must Dismantle White Supremacy,” which helped propel the dramatic expansion of the company’s social media audience by 35% on Twitter and 27% on Facebook.
Sports: In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, two posts receiving the most outsized interaction came from the Utah Jazz. Although the Jazz has the least-diverse fan base in the NBA, according to FiveThirtyEight, the team’s Black Lives Matter content received more than 20 times more interaction than its average post. This figure is true when considering all interactions as well as solely positive “reactions” and shares. Combined with Kivvit’s finding that Utah is among the states where #BlackLivesMatter engagement has increased the most, it is apparent the movement is growing in even less-diverse regions.
Higher Education: Analysis of 236 colleges and universities ranked by U.S. News revealed similar trends of high engagement from unlikely sources. Of the 107 institutions that shared the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, seven of the top 10 posts by engagement were from institutions with more white representation than the average U.S. campus. The top post, based on both total interactions and overperformance, came from Indiana University. The IU student body is 73% white and the school’s hometown, Bloomington, is 83% white.
Hospital and Health Care Systems: With the COVID-19 pandemic as a backdrop to the surge in Black Lives Matter engagement, a notable segment of recent support came from within the medical community, particularly through #WhiteCoats4BlackLives — a rallying hashtag of solidarity. Since the start of the pandemic, Kivvit found some of the most engaging COVID-19 content from the nation’s 100 largest hospitals and health care systems was multilingual — As more hospitals and health care systems engage with social justice issues, this finding tells us it is important to ensure content reflects the diversity of patients and essential workers, including their language.
A DATA-DRIVEN PLAYBOOK FOR LEADERS AND ORGANIZATIONS
There is an imperative for more leaders and organizations to engage in social movements like Black Lives Matter and to speak out against all acts of racial injustice — not just when it’s trending, but as an ongoing part of their brand. In a society where a large segment of the population has been systemically shut off from access to so much, there’s a moral imperative to do the right thing and speak out. The findings in our report are intended to be a data-driven playbook that help leaders at organizations of all kinds and sizes communicate about these important issues. Based on the data, these are a series of directives to consider: