Using Social Listening to Amplify the Call for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Belonging

Kimberly Surico |
 05/10/23 |
4 min read

Using Social Listening to Amplify the Call for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Belonging

To succeed in today’s global marketplace, companies recognize that creating a positive impact must be part of their mission. Many accomplish this by prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) efforts. And they’re learning that social listening is key to its success.

We recently explored these and other topics with marketer extraordinaire and social listening expert Nicholas Love, Agency Principal of the Kulur Group. In fact, we have a series of interviews with him to share. These conversations span a range of modern marketing strategies impacting businesses and the evolution of the digital space. 

In this article, we discuss the state of DEIB and how companies can leverage it to achieve success.

How are companies incorporating social listening in their marketing strategies—and where does DEI fit in this picture? 

Even though we’ve seen the importance of social listening in marketing gain in prominence, a good amount of marketing intel typically still comes from surveys, unfortunately. A recent poll found that 70% of companies have a social listening system, but only 50% of these companies know how to use them. There’s a growing recognition that it’s essential, but many companies are still trying to figure out how to integrate it effectively. 

Most companies are still trying to figure out how to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the overall equation. With brands increasingly leveraging social media listening, they are often doing it reactively through the lens of crisis management and product feedback. Influencer identification is a popular entry point as well. But oftentimes, there isn’t an explicit focus on DEI, especially not DEIB.

You mentioned ‘B’ with DEI—what does that mean?

The ‘B’ stands for belonging. There have been a lot of conversations on whether diversity has been diluted. And what I mean by that is there have been many different segments established within diversity—diversity of thought, diversity of gender, diversity of age, diversity of ethnic identities, diversity of background, and so on. It puts everything in little boxes. 

The ‘B’ is about belonging, and that’s not to devalue diversity but to lift the other elements that complete the trinity. So, it’s really emphasizing and elevating equity and inclusion and doing so in a way that reflects belonging.  

Expanding on Nick’s timely observations, it’s clear that DEI has become a crucial factor for consumers and job seekers today, as well as the space between the two. Deloitte highlights that having diverse representation in marketing and advertising can demonstrate a company’s ability to understand and meet the needs of a diverse customer base, and you can be sure consumers are noticing. 

Millennials and older Gen Z consumers show a clear preference for companies prioritizing DEI in their workplace and products, making it essential for brands to focus on DEI initiatives to appeal to these demographics. As we can see in our age breakdown below, even Generation X and Boomers are participating in the DEI conversation online.

It will be crucial for brands to tune in to understand the specifics and how to best connect with these segments, which we explore more in our next question!

It may seem obvious, but help us understand why DEIB is relevant for companies and their social listening efforts?

Many brands, by default, use social listening as a means of understanding reputation through the lens of sentiment analysis or share of voice. And this is a good start, but it can also be used to do a deep dive into individual communities to find out what topics are being discussed and how they resonate with your audiences. When companies are too brand focused, they create blind spots and miss out on the shifts in consumer behaviors, sentiments, and more. And these shifts happen constantly.

To elaborate on how brands can utilize social listening to support DEIB initiatives, our dashboard below demonstrates the current trends in the “DEI policy” conversation. It highlights a significant disconnect happening, and it appears to be pervasive.

By monitoring how these (and other topics) are discussed, companies can take a proactive rather than reactive approach and identify opportunities to initiate conversations.

And from these conversations, brands can build authentic DEIB practices into the fabric of their organizations and create meaningful connections both internally and externally, with their incredibly discerning audiences who can spot meaningless DEIB efforts a mile away.

We’ll touch on this later in our series, but in a nutshell, how does incorporating DEIB help brands on a company level, consumer level, etc.?

Through DEIB, social listening becomes less about you as a brand and more about the outcomes. It’s a shift in focus from selling a widget to affecting change, and the sales naturally flow from it. The topics your company, your consumers, and your prospective talent care about most are monitored and measured for impact, demonstrating genuine care that ultimately enhances your brand health, increases loyalty, and positively impacts ROI.

A quick review online reveals DEIB influences everything from messaging to product development and internal goals at leading firms. Examples abound, as we can see on Forbes’ 2023 list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity. First on the list—aptly named Progressive. 

Their commitment to inclusivity is deeply woven into the fabric of the company and can be seen as a natural extension of everything they do.


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A post shared by Progressive Insurance (@progressive)

Other companies on that list are equally impressive—but how did they all get there? And how can you? Incorporating DEIB into your social listening plan offers valuable insights to guide these efforts. And in the next installment, we will continue our conversation with Nick on the importance of DEIB in audience understanding. We will also dig into some specifics around how that looks in action! 

Be sure to connect with and follow Nick Love on LinkedIn if you aren’t already, as he’s an incredible resource for any brand seeking insight and guidance to achieve DEIB and general marketing success. And if you want to learn more about how social listening can enhance your brand strategies, please reach out for a demo.


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