Why Black Twitter matters for brands

Twitter is great and all, but have you ever heard of Black Twitter?

Brands are missing an opportunity by failing to put black people at the forefront of their social-media campaigns, argues Esther Akinola
Brands are missing an opportunity by failing to put black people at the forefront of their social-media campaigns, argues Esther Akinola

No, it’s not a separate app – it’s an online community and subculture living on the very same social-media platform you scroll through every day.

And at the moment, this special community is at the forefront of cultural discussion and the driving force of the most successful trends you enjoy online to date.

Some of you may be thinking: “That’s cool. But why should I care?” Here’s why it should matter to you, especially if you’re a communications professional.

  • Black people across the globe are three times more likely to post daily on Twitter than any other demographic

  • In 2018, the top three most-tweeted campaigns were #TakeAKnee, #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. All black-issue centred hashtags.

  • While only being 12.5 per cent of the US population, African Americans make up 25 per cent of US Twitter users.

Similar to other communications, black people are sometimes a forgotten community when brands campaign online – and yet Black Twitter users are more likely to engage with content than any other demographic.

This fact alone should encourage more brands to keep the black community at the forefront of their plans if they’re aiming to run an effective campaign, with organic amplification.

Without too much effort from brands themselves, black people drive campaigns through their engagement as long as the content sits within a topic and/or tone that resonates with them.

Let’s look at Love Island as an example of the business power of Black Twitter.

Early this year, data scientist Chris Schon shared an infographic of the top 10 #LoveIsland hashtag users with the highest engagement on Twitter.

Black Twitter users are more likely to engage with content than any other demographic.

Esther Akinola, independent content strategist and influencer marketing consultant

The data showed that of those top 10 users, nine were social media influencers, and of those nine users, seven were black British.

Data such as this is proof that Black Twitter is amplifying Love Island online, boosting the show’s popularity and, to an extent, the brands that sponsor them.

As more Black Twitter-generated content goes viral, many brands are sadly becoming quick to hijack the content for their own use.

It’s great they’re noticing Black Twitter’s creativity and impact, but it’s less great when some black content-creators and influencers aren’t getting credit or payment for their successful work.

Multiple examples of black content being hijacked without credit can be found on platforms such as Buzzfeed.

Last year, a non-black Buzzfeed writer published a 'listicle'-style article of tweets from Black Twitter.

The article received some backlash, with one Twitter user commenting that it was written by a white man, another pointing out that it doesn’t mention Black Twitter at all, while a third condemned the whole piece as consisting of stolen tweets.

This just goes to show that by hijacking Black Twitter content, brands are alienating the black community.

It’s time for brands to acknowledge that black voices online matter if they want to reach a wider audience.

So, as you plan your next brand campaign or product launch, ask yourself whether there’s an opportunity you may be missing to co-create with some of the funniest and viral content-makers online – Black Twitter!

Esther Akinola is an independent content strategist and influencer marketing consultant


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