Advice From a Millennial on Black Twitter to Marketers
I’ve literally been trying to write this blog post since late January but I’ve struggled with the impossible – attempting to sum up the intricacies of intersecting marketing and Black Twitter in one post. Black Twitter was my best kept secret- it is my stream of consciousness and when I’m not tweeting for the job, I’m tweeting on the job. Once you’re in, you’re in – there’s not one hashtag to scroll through (though we tend to troll on other trending topics very often) and there isn’t a specific Twitter account to follow. Black Twitter exists as an amorphous collective of conscious thoughts about the black experience, entertaining trends, cultural discussions, and most importantly Black Twitter has actively mobilized national and global movements on and offline (see: #BlackLivesMatter).Black Twitter exists as an amorphous collective of conscious thoughts about the black experience. Click To Tweet
The Twittersphere has long been a medium for uncensored and unfiltered breaking news, collective rants, political debates, pedagogy, and general foolishness. It is literally the best place to observe, listen to, and engage with your audience in their ‘natural habitat.’
As a millennial marketing agency, we emphasize to our clients the importance of listening and engaging in real-time on Twitter as it relates to the brand’s audience, whomever that may be. But when it comes to understanding and marketing to black people and other people of color, I advise to tread lightly and remember that representation and accuracy matters. Black Millennials, like every other Millennial, just want to be heard; the only [glaring] difference is that most of the time black people are unheard and underrepresented to a fault.Black Millennials, like every other Millennial, just want to be heard. Click To Tweet
As the buying power of Millennials continues to grow exponentially, so does that of the black community. Some marketers have attempted to communicate with the black community on Twitter so much that they have gotten themselves into trouble by being culturally insensitive, overtly racist, and missing the mark completely. As a black Millennial marketer (among other things), I think it’s imperative for me to share insights from my perspective and hopefully help marketers reach the black Millennial audience effectively and without getting trolled and becoming the butt of our Twitter jokes.
Here’s what’s need to know when it comes to Black Twitter:
1. Diverse representation in advertisements is important to us.
Now, I don’t mean simply having the token black girl or guy in an ad, I mean actually allowing us to truly represent ourselves. Your new beauty product that caters to brown girls’ skin tones should have all shades of brown represented because, let’s be real- we come in all shades.
2. You’re marketing to us but you need to listen and learn first.
Twitter is our global barbershop / hair salon and your marketing is like the Asian woman wheeling in her suitcase filled with bootleg DVDs… Translation: we discuss social issues and current events while cracking jokes and having fun via this medium. Twitter is where some of us gather socially and build communities but at the same time our communities shouldn’t be overly simplified and referred to in sweeping statements because (1) Black Twitter is not the voice of ALL black people and (2) we’re much more complex that that. Therefore, instead of trying too hard to fit in or join the conversation- just listen and learn from us (and Google), then maybe you’ll educate yourself enough to engage. Or like the bootleg DVD lady at the barbershop, you decide to pop in- say something totally irrelevant, then leave- you’ll either be trolled until your Internet demise or you’ll become as irrelevant in our minds as your message.
3. Bae, don’t try too hard to be on fleek– you might hurt yourself.
The intersecting line between pop-culture and black culture is very thin and thanks to cultural appropriation [sarcasm], black culture has been stolen and repurposed into pop-culture with attempts to erase the connection to the black community. Unfortunately, so it is with slang terminology- I personally chuckle out loud when brands try to get down with us, but like I said, there is a thin line, and when brands and publications try too hard, they wind up sticking their feet in their proverbial mouths. Rather than trying to be down, develop a voice for your brand that effectively speaks to your audience and just be yourself.
Realistically this blog doesn’t begin to touch on even the tip the iceberg of insights marketers can garner from listening and learning from their audience online- especially the wealth of information in the Black Twitterverse. Just remember these things: marketing to Black Twitter and the black community is all about representation so don’t be insensitive or make sweeping generalizations and just listen before you engage.