Juneteenth was first celebrated as a holiday in Austin in 1867, and was first officially recognized as a state holiday by Texas in 1980. However, the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests advocating for social justice have raised multicultural awareness of Juneteenth to an unprecedented extent this year.
This sea change is quantifiable at a brand level. For instance on June 19, 2020, 352 of 1,100 social media posts shared by S&P 500 brands were Juneteenth related. In comparison on June 19, 2019 only 4 out of 1,551 posts shared by S&P 500 brands on social media mentioned Juneteenth. There were also noticeably less posts this year than last, as brands have pulled back on sharing their usual content to dedicate space for supporting racial justice.
While there’s no pre-existing playbook for what type of messaging around the holiday resonates with audiences we were able to identify 5 key takeaways from what Juneteenth brand content connected the best this year.
Brands That Averaged The Most Responses To Their Juneteenth Social Media Posts
|Rank||Brand||Average Volume Of Responses To Juneteenth Related Posts||# of Juneteenth Related Posts||Examples|
|6||Ulta Beauty||14,971||2||Sample Post|
|7||Old Navy||12,844||2||Sample Post|
|8||US Navy||10,830||3||Sample Post|
|9||Delta Air Lines||8,314||1||Sample Post|
Methodology: Looks at the average numbers of social media content responses on posts by either S&P 500 Brands or Top Advertisers (485 brands) mentioning Juneteenth on June 19, 2020. ListenFirst Content Responses measure the Likes, Shares, Comments, and Retweets a post gets on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube.
Insight #1: Sports Leagues Generated The Most Responses To Their Juneteenth Posts
On June 19, 2020, the NFL was the brand that generated the most response to its Juneteenth related social media posts, with those 6 posts receiving on average 52,801 responses. Meanwhile the NBA had the second highest total, with its amazing 50 Juneteenth related social media posts shared on the day averaging 34,906 responses.
The NFL announced that it would be shutting down league offices in commemoration of Juneteenth while the NBA highlighted the social justice protesting efforts of its players, among its many other Juneteenth related posts. Athletes like Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James, and Stephen Jackson have been at the forefront of speaking out against police brutality, and their activism lends authority to the leagues they’re associated with.
Any brand can speak to Juneteenth and events that speak to social justice in general, but for the audience to pay attention at any scale, that needs to be part of a longer term conversation.
Insight #2: It’s Okay To Explain What Juneteenth Is
When brands post about Independence Day, there’s no need to explain what the Declaration of Independence was. Similarly, posting about Thanksgiving doesn’t require a historic recap about Pilgrims. However, when a lesser known holiday becomes more prominent, it’s okay for brands to help fill in the blanks because much of the audience is hearing these facts for the first time.
This year many brands stood out in talking about Juneteenth just by explaining the basics. For instance, Facebook received 291,566 responses on a post explaining how the holiday commemorates how enslaved people in Galveston, Texas first learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865, while also offering 19 ways to celebrate. Meanwhile Microsoft received 4,652 responses on a Twitter thread fleshing out the history of the holiday while also offering resource ideas for further learning.
While it’s a serious subject, comedy can still be deployed in those explanations. For example, Netflix generated 17,915 responses on a Tweet that started a thread explaining Juneteenth that used The Office’s Michael Scott’s to illustrate how many white Americans think slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln before explaining the more complicated actual answer.
Insight #3: Use Your Platform to Amplify Black Voices
Due to what it’s commemorating, Juneteenth is a holiday where the social media audience needs to hear from Black voices not allies, and some of the most successful brands in posting about Juneteenth made sure that’s exactly what the messaging was. Social media platforms themselves understood that point as Twitter shared a Twitter Voice Note from Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi on why Juneteenth is especially meaningful this year which generated 6,215 responses. Meanwhile Facebook received 5,342 responses on a video of the cast of Black-ish being interviewed about their musical Juneteenth themed episode.
Other notable examples include Sephora using Instagram Live for a conversation with Black activists, scholars, and partners; the announcement of which generated 22,185 responses, while Maybelline received 18,453 responses on a post announcing a Instagram Live event where a makeup artist would be offering up makeup tips for deeper skin tones.
Insight #4: Real Holidays Mean Time Off
Did you know National Hot Dog Day is July 22? You probably would if you were getting the day off for it. There are plenty of fun and frivolous holidays that don’t merit getting a paid vacation day, but the ending of slavery in this country was an immeasurably important moment in our nation’s history that deserves more reflection than just sharing a GIF.
Many brands reaffirmed the importance of Juneteenth by sharing on social media how they’re giving their employees the day off for the holiday. For example, Adobe received 380 responses to a Tweet announcing its employees would be out of the office for Juneteenth to take time for reflection and advocacy while BB&T Bank announced it was closing at 2pm on Juneteenth in a Facebook post that received 10,382 responses. U.S. Bancorp and Fifth Third Bank are other financial institutions that closed early for the holiday.
ListenFirst also gave our employees Juneteenth off so our team could commemorate Black history and culture through celebration, education, and reflection.
Insight #5: Brands Used The Opportunity To Share Additional Relevant Resources
The abolition of slavery didn’t magically erase racial inequlity in this country and many brands used the occasion of Juneteenth to share additional content and resources that spoke either to that struggle and/or provided a better understanding of the Black experience in America. For example, Amazon received 9,024 responses on a Facebook post that shared online learning tools and resources, including Black employee recommendations on films, TV shows, and books. Similarly, Hulu generated 5,389 responses on its Juneteenth watchlist while Gerber got 1,128 responses on a Facebook post showcasing amazing accounts featuring Black educators, mothers, and creators.
While Juneteenth might be a new topic for brands, it is a subject that the social media audience was receptive to talking about. For example on June 19, 2020 S&P 500 brands averaged 2,473 responses to their Juneteenth related posts compared to an average of 2,208 responses per post so far this year. Hopefully this enthusiasm will lead to even more brand engagement around Juneteenth next year.