Black People Do Social Media Differently

One of the key collections of data for digital marketers is social media demographics. Once you know who your target market is, then you need to find out where they hangout online. However, that is really just the tip of the iceberg. You also need to find out some information regarding how they utilize social media; and that information is not as easy to pull from quantitative data sets.

It’s an interesting topic…and for this post I’m going to focus on the Black American community. I personally have noticed big differences in how my [Black] family uses social media, and the practices and focus of social media marketing in general. And they aren’t always on the same page. Here are 5 reasons that show why:

1. Black Americans Online. About 57% of Black American homes have internet access…compared to 76% of White American homes. This includes all forms of home internet access, and not just broadband. Keep in mind that broadband internet access is only present in 46% of homes with household incomes below $30K (and 28% of Black American households bring in $25K or less per year). But this is for home internet use. On the mobile side, the story is a little different. About 74% of African-American cell phone users say that they use their phone to access the internet; and for 45% of all low-income ( < $30k annual income) internet users, a cell phone is their primary internet device.

2. Twitter and Instagram are popular. 26% of Black internet users said that they use Twitter, and 23% said that they are on Instagram. The numbers for White Americans are 14% and 11% comparatively. But wait, that doesn’t mean that the other social networks should be ignored, even if the Black community is your target market. Keep reading to find out why 🙂

3. Is there and app for that? 54% of Black Americans own a smartphone, and they are leading the way in the purchases of tablet PCs. Although it is hard to pin down the exact numbers, there is a good chance that the majority of social media activity from Black Americans is done on a mobile app of some sort.

4. What’s my name? About 77% of Black teenagers use their real names on social media, compared to 95% of White teenagers. This online fibbing can also extend to other key demographic information; such as location, age, profession and relationship status. And for this demographic, Twitter seems to be more like texting on steroids. At least that’s the impression that I get from my sister’s Twitter feed!

5. Listen & feel the vibe. Every community on social media has their “pulse”; the type of content and topics that really resonates with that group. Remember how I pointed out that Twitter and Instagram are popular social networks among African-Americans? Well that is in numbers alone, and sometimes you have to explore and observe in a few more places to understand the online community. For example, I have 51 boards on Pinterest with 757 followers. One of my most popular boards, with 479 followers, is a board entitled “Black Hair 🙂 “. It only has 5% of my pins, yet it has some good numbers on virality and engagement.

When considering content, also consider the internal demographics of the Black American community; such as immigrants, Black men, single professionals, and bi-racial members. Understand and recognize that their are still distinct preferences among Black Americans in regards to fashion, entertainment, health and beauty, and careers. African-Americans are early-adopters of pop culture and trendsetters by nature. In spite of their widespread use of mobile technology, television is still more popular than the internet in Black American homes. With that being said, online videos are very popular, with 44% of Black internet users visiting video sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo to learn about brands, products and services.

With the combined buying power of $1 trillion dollars, it is an oversight to not seriously consider the nuances of online marketing targeted specifically to the Black community. One size does not always fit all, and you may miss out if your audience feels that your brand, product or service does not speak to them.