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How Brands Can Show Non-Performative Support on Social Media

Because a simple black square will never cut it.

Americans have a front-row seat to the negative impacts of a government that does not prioritize the safety of its citizens and the well-being of our planet. Climate change, gun safety, police brutality, women’s rights, and LGBTQIA+ rights are at the forefront of news daily. When there’s a major news event relating to one of these topics (a recent example being the overturning of Roe v Wade) my demographic, Gen Z, wants to see awareness and non-performative support from the brands they buy from.

Showing non-performative support on social media is crucial for corporations. Gen Z has been on social media for long enough to recognize when a brand wants to appear “woke” and when a brand genuinely cares about a cause. Companies and public figures who have larger followings are expected to step up and use their voice to build awareness for social justice issues that affect the masses. Issues like Roe v Wade are multifaceted. It’s not just about banning abortion; it’s an attack on women’s rights that will result in disproportionate effects on women of color and low-income women. The overturning of Roe v Wade is making life more unsafe and difficult for women, and the same figures passing laws similar to this are the same ones who vote against free healthcare, food stamps, etc. Governmental lack of support for women does affect everyone, and everyone should care.

Responsible corporations should feel compelled to educate their following on social media and provide them with possible paths of action.

When there is a major policy change or news event that impacts civilians, brands should research resources to provide the people with a right or service they may be stripped of. They should supply the public with a list of organizations to donate to and organizations that are taking action to reverse or lessen the effects of the issue in question. Brands should urge citizens to take action and provide details on how to do so, whether that be contacting politicians, joining a protest, or signing a petition. Brands should start their own “Go Fund Me” or supply the public with a reliable donation page created by a reputable organization. Instagram makes it easy to link Go Fund Me campaigns to posts, and adding the link to your bio is always an option. This does not have to come at the expense of linking your company website. If your brand uses Linktree for example, you will be able to include multiple links in your "link in bio" slot.

People want to see eye-catching graphics that you can spot on the feed, as opposed to needing to click on it to know what it’s about. Carousels are a good way to provide information about current issues. When looking at a brand page, people want to see a story having to do with social justice efforts that they can easily read through. These votes of support in addition to stepping up and providing resources as opposed to thoughts and prayers are crucial. Issues like this go beyond “aesthetics.” There is no perfect grid layout more important than the loss of a basic human right.

On a company website, it’s important to have a page dedicated to sustainability and/or social efforts. These kinds of pages should be linked on the menu bar/at the top of the site. Nike, for example, has notable sustainability goals and efforts underway, but the page is difficult to locate, hiding in the footer of the page and named discreetly, “Purpose.”

Brands should advertise their efforts just as much as their products. Gen Z is taking extra care when shopping to ensure the brands they’re sporting have a social conscience. People don’t want to wear clothing from a brand disinterested in making the world a better place. A brand that does not support climate change, for example, will not create clothing sustainably meaning that purchasing that clothing is contributing to waste.

According to Retail Leader, Gen Zers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand if their ad mentions:

  • Mental health advocacy (71%)

  • Public health and safety (66.2%)

  • Sustainability (65.8%)

  • Racial equality (58.9%)

  • LGBTQ+ acceptance (53.5%)

Make sure your brand is speaking up about social justice issues that matter to your brand. Consumers will appreciate it, and you'll gain the loyalty of GenZ, which is about to become the world's biggest spending power.

Nobody wants to be deemed a part of the problem. Companies shouldn’t either.

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