In my experience working in entertainment media, we focus a lot on targeted segments, and it goes without saying that African Americans over-index on overall technology consumption. The African American audience leads in usage in Television, Radio and Social Media across consumer segments.
While social media is an increasingly important part of the media landscape overall, it plays an especially large role in the lives of African American consumers, especially among 18-34-year-olds. Beyond the friends and family aspect of social media, social media has been a strong platform for African Americans to share news, digitally congregate around key topical (often social and cultural) issues and cast a wide net of influence. Just think about “Black Twitter” and the recent movements around #BlackLivesMatter, #OscarSoWhite and #ICantBreathe. Powered by cultural solidarity and shared experiences of the community, “Black Twitter” is perhaps the most engaged and powerful group on the social website and others like it.
✈️ If this highly engaged demographic were passengers on a plane, I’d identify African American teens as “frequent flyers.” ✈️
“It’s fair to say that the reliance of black teens on smartphones and their respective apps, which make using sites like Instagram and Snapchat all the easier, is helping them stay ahead of their peers when it comes to how much they visit these sites.” (2)
As marketers look to better understand the different target markets and find effective ways that our brands can communicate with consumers about their products, we have to contend with the fragmentation that is propelled by the ever-increasing consumption of digital media. African American consumers have traditionally been heavily tech and entertainment oriented than the total market. This is especially true for younger African American audiences.
“nearly 9 in 10 black teenagers use Snapchat, compared with just over 7 in 10 whites. And 4 in 10 black teens report using Snapchat almost constantly, compared with about 2 in 10 white teens… It speaks to the level of embeddedness of the technology in black youth’s lives and their willingness to move into new platforms more quickly than their counterparts.” (3)
Through social media, Black American culture is influencing the overall American culture — and in turn, the global pop-culture. The economic impact of the influence of these active and highly engaged social media users can be measured, as companies look to maximize social buzz around their brands. Brands using vocabulary crafted from young African Americans on social media is becoming more common reflecting the power this audience has. With this power and “earned media,” consumers can become advocates and ambassadors of companies and influence others in their respective brand categories. That said, as competition for screen time is gets fiercer, companies need to work harder to understand and connect with this specific audience because it is clear that African American consumers represent a growing opportunity for capturing engagement and influencing what’s acceptable in American culture.
- Lenhart, Amanda. Teens, Social Media & Technology https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/
- Blavity. Why Black Teens are the Biggest Users Of Instagram and Snapchat https://afrotech.com/why-black-teens-are-the-biggest-users-of-instagram-and-snapchat
- Haines Whack, Errin. Poll: Black Teens Most Active on Social Media Apps https://phys.org/news/2017-04-poll-black-teens-social-media.html