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Finding and engaging minority influencers on social media


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Reach your whole potential audience. This white paper from Elon University's graduate program in Interactive Media describes best practices for reaching minority influencers on social media.

Published in: Social Media, Business, Technology
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Finding and engaging minority influencers on social media

  1. 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Through social media, people have a channel to instantly share their opinions with hun- dreds sometimes thousands of viewers. Never before has our world seen a technology that almost instantly has the power to connect people from all over the planet. Never- theless, the question arises how do you use the information your users are sharing to attract more people to your brand and generate money? The answer to this question are the major influencers in the social media world. We will be specifically analyzing African- American social media influencers. If African-Americans are a target audience for your marketing campaign, it is essential that you know who the major African-American social media influencers are. By knowing these active, influential social media constituents, you are in a position to model and develop a beneficial online presence and relationship with your viewers and influencers. 1 © 2014 Peterson, Williamson
  2. 2. CONSUMERS Consumers Trust Who They Know Online According to Nielsen’s African-American Consumer Report for 2013, African-American television viewers tend to watch programs that provide diversity in the cast or characters who are reflective of the Black lifestyle and culture. Many of the top television programs amongst African Americans contain actors or artists who become major influencers in Black cyberspace. Consumers trust those they know. All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust. A 2011 study done by Nielsen revealed that more than 90% of online consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends over advertising. The value of African-American social media influencers relies on the influencer’s relationship with the Afri- can-American culture. If you are someone who is well known and trusted amongst African-Americans, you will have a higher impact on their social media trends and actions. More than 90% of online consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends over advertising.” 2 © 2014 Peterson, Williamson
  3. 3. WHO IS SOCIAL? 40% of 18-29 year old African-Americans who use the Internet use 3 © 2014 Peterson, Williamson In the past there has been a great gap between Afri- can American internet use compared to other ethnic groups. The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that in 2000, 36% of Blacks had Internet access compared to 50% of whites.The World Wide Web definitely delivers access to information that would otherwise be intangible. However, despite the fact that most Americans use the Internet, those who are older, less educated, minority and lower income have lesser usage rates than younger, highly educated, white and wealthier individuals2 . Porter and Donthu found that age, education, in- come and race are associated differentially with be- liefs about the Internet and these beliefs influence a consumer’s attitude toward and use of the Internet. Lower income consumer such as African Americans resist services with continuing cost, and although public facilities often provide free internet access the quality of access is often low2 . Though the residents of these communities can access World Wide Web usage at schools or libraries, the time involved in online interactivity compared to someone with con- tinuous Internet access is distinctly different, conse- quently, resulting in two different perceptions of the Internet and a theory known as digital divide. Digital divide can be defined as the gap between computer and Internet use of whites and certain minority groups, the wealthy and less affluent, the educated and less schooled, and those residing in urban and rural areas3 . Despite the reality of digital divide, the Internet access and usage for African-Ameri- cans is increasing. A recent study done bye the Pew Research Center found that when it comes to overall internet use African Americans trail Whites by only seven percentage points 87% to 80%. These users are mostly young, college educated, higher income Afri- can-Americans and those who don’t fit the latter description access the inter- net through their smartphones. 92% of African Americans own a cell phone and 56% of them own a smartphone. The high percentage of African-Ameri- can smartphone Internet users may be the reason why Twitter is so popular among African Americans. According to the Pew Research Center, 40% of 18-29 year old African Americans who use the Internet say that they use Twit- ter. That is 12 percentage points higher than the comparable figure for young whites. Blacks are 44% more likely than total market consumers to create a social media profile. For Blacks online platforms are like beauty/barbershops. where people come to voice their opin- ions, share funny stories, and connect with others. “For Blacks, online platforms are like beauty/barber- shops...”
  4. 4. BLACK TWITTER Black Twitter is defined as the substantial black presence on Twitter.3 It is important to note that every participant in Black Twitter is not Black. Black Twitter serves as an online community that allows users within this realm to critique, agree/disagree and share information with their peers. African-Americans generate the majority of hashtags and trending topics. Within the black community, it is important to note that Black responses to the news coverage about in-group members are typically very critical.This online community is put together through collaborative comments and thrives on the call-and-response types of communication.3 Within“Black Twitter,”an important feature is the hashtag. A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol“#”. A recent example of how hashtags were used in an effective way was during the 2014 Academy Awards. The movie 12 Years A Slave was up for 9 academy awards and powerful social media users such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Will Smith were among many to show support of the film via social media. This, in return, lead to countless retweets and shares from their fans and served as promo- tion to the film, especially for those who had yet to see the movie. According to a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center, 26 percent of African Americans who use the Internet use Twitter, compared to14 percent of online white, non-Hispanic Americans. In addition, 11 percent of African American Twitter users say they use Twitter at least once a day, versus 3 percent of white users2 . What Makes a Great Influencer?4 Holly Hamann, co-founder and CMO of TapInfluence, states,“Influence is no longer determined by net- work ratings or a newspaper’s circulation, and influencers no longer need an audience of millions. Al- though influence is sometimes measured by unique visitors, blog comments, YouTube views, or Twitter followers, the numbers aren’t what matter most — what matters is the reaction a person’s content gets from his or her audience.” Passion and engagement are at the heart of what makes a modern influencer, and these factors are also what make influencers so valuable to brands4 . Influencers help brands: 1. Reach a Very Targeted Audience4 Marketing to a broad audience might raise awareness, but if people aren’t interested in what you’re trying to sell, much of your investment is wasted by not hitting the right audience. Targeting the right influencers means targeting the audience most likely to be in- terested in your brand. If you make running shoes, partnering with a marathon runner with a strong following gives you direct access to the people most likely to want your product. 4 © 2014 Peterson, Williamson
  5. 5. There are multiple ways that one could measure their own Twitter influence and find their top influencers within social media. Here are 5 Tools to Measure Twitter Influence Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the“Klout Score”, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100. In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user’s social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users interact with that content. Retweet Rank is the standard to determine influencers on Twitter based on retweets. This API provides data about top influencers. You can also fetch any Twitter user’s retweet rank and percentile. Twitalyzer is“web analytics for Twitter”in a lot of ways. It’s geared towards performance measurement. It is centered on measuring individual user accounts (as opposed to measuring/monitoring“topics”) and tracks a mix of“measures”and“metrics”over time. Basically, Twit- alyzer is the Google Analytics of Twitter. Twitter Grader is a free tool that allows you to check the power of your twitter profile compared to millions of other users that have been graded. Just enter your twitter username (password not needed) and you’ll get an instant grade and report. It’s easy. SocialRank tells you more about your most valuable, most engaged, and best followers on Twitter. 2. Create Trust When people want information on a product, they look for like-minded individuals whose advice they trust. Influencers garner large, loyal followings because people know they will get real, honest information from them. Building a relationship with these influencers means gaining the inherent trust of their audience4 . 3. Generate Engagement Print and television tend to be inherently passive mediums. People see ads, but that doesn’t mean they’re engaged. An influencer, however, thrives on active engagement. A blogger’s content lives or dies by how much it’s shared, discussed, and replied to. People who follow an influencer on Facebook are much more likely to act on a post simply because of the medium. If a brand is looking to stand out in the online sphere and gain followers on its own social media accounts, this type of engagement is key4 . FINDING INFLUENCERS 5 © 2014 Peterson, Williamson
  6. 6. #1. President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) Not only is he the first Black President, he is the first President to have a Twitter account. If that fact has not sold you yet, get this: he created a trending topic for the State of the Union Address called #STUA, where he gave updates on points he spoke about in his speech. #2. Rev Run (@RevRunWisdom) His tweets are personal and authentic, so authentic he possibly types them from his bathtub like he does on his hit show Run’s House. Whether you are religious, spiritual, or worldly, his messages speak to people of all walks of life. #3. Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) Her tweets are filled with positivity and encouragement, and constantly remind me that she is still human like you and me. She once tweeted about how excited she was to meet Maxwell, while also promoting her many platforms such as the end of dis- tracted driving. #4. P Diddy (@IamDiddy) Diddy promotes entrepreneurship, and never has become complacent in his rise to super stardom. He shares his life in his tweets, from business ventures, to family issues. He is so passionate about everything he does, from signing a multi-million dollar contract, to tasting a new dish, to the lastest fashioon trends in the African-American community. #5. Dr. Marc Lamont Hill (@MarcLamontHill) Dr. Hill is currently a professor at Columbia University, but his celebrity is growing due to his unique passion for the proper representation of Black people, as well as his analytical prowess. All of these individuals are prime examples of how powerful influencers can be, in this case, in the African American community. CONCLUSION Top African American Influencers on Twitter5 6 © 2014 Peterson, Williamson Influencers can not only heighten your visibilty amongst likeminded individuals but they can also push your content to new levels. Major influencers can build trust in your brand, create brand awareness and generate engagement amongst your users. Within the African-American community, individuals see, on a daily basis, the impact that an influencer such as Oprah Winfrey can have on a product. Utilizing the power of a social media influencer not only shows the articulated thought of your business goals but also shows that you are confident in your content, your message and your brand.
  7. 7. ABOUT Jeffrey Williamson is a multimedia design and interactive media professional from Reidsville, NC. He graduated from Elon University with an undergraduate degree in Digital Art and Communications and is expecting to earn his Master’s degree from Elon University in the Spring of 2014. Jeffrey has interests in blogging, social media, interactive design and photography. He enjoys networking and learning new tips and trends to develope his knowledge with the field of interactive media. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter: @JeffreyLDesign 7 © 2014 Peterson, Williamson A lifetime entrepreneur, Reginald Peterson II is CEO of 1/16th Media Productions LLC. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and is currently acquiring his Master’s in Interactive Media at Elon University. During his time at North Carolina A&T, he was an active member of the school’s first broadcast show,“Studio 475 News.”Reginald wrote scripts, shot and edited video, appeared in-front of camera, and programmed interactive graphics for WFMY News 2 during his internship his senior year. After gradu- ation, Reginald interned with P&P Productions in Virginia Beach, VA. There, he gained experience producing wedding packages and shooting a local television show. Through his media experiences, Reginald decided to start his own production company, which focuses on uplifting his culture through different media platforms. Follow Reginald on Twitter: @ReginaldPeter13
  8. 8. CITATIONS © 2014 Peterson, Williamson 1 2 3 Sarah Florini: 4 Holly Hamann 5 IMAGES