DEI Brand Activism on Social Media: A Brand Marketing and Social-Political Activism Comparison

Publication Date



While diversity, equity, and inclusion issues are a focus of brand activism and many firms' corporate social responsibility initiatives, the challenge is that these topics either 1) impact a relatively small group of individuals (i.e., limited in scope) or 2) are emotionally charged or polarizing in nature. This makes it difficult for firms to determine if and when it is appropriate to respond to DEI events on social media. We use surveys and Twitter data to provide clarity on the effectiveness of DEI-related tweets as a social media strategy. By comparing DEI tweets with COVID-19 and political tweets we find that audiences feel that DEI and COVID-19 topics are appropriate to talk about, but that DEI issues have a significantly lower scope relative to other topics. Still, engagement is relatively high when a brand explicitly responds to a major social event, suggesting that the downside risks of discussing DEI events in social media are limited. In addition, DEI tweets appear most effective when used sporadically as they are more sensitive to topic saturation. Although this research is relatively exploratory in nature, our findings provide useful guidelines and insights on DEI brand activism.

Document Type



Corporate Social Responsibility, DEI, Social Media Marketing, Twitter, X


Business and Corporate Communications | Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics