Social media has long been a tool used by grassroots activists, politicians, and brands alike to attract people towards their message. However, despite the millions of online communities worldwide, none appear to have the same widespread social and cultural influence as Black Twitter has demonstrated both online and offline.
So what actually is Black Twitter…
Essentially, Black Twitter is a popular internet sub-culture which has gained the attention of other users and media alike. Similar to Scottish Twitter (we’ll get to that another day) Black Twitter is a space that has become notorious for their hot takes and cultural anecdotes which go from one retweet to viral quicker than you can say ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’(in the words of Sweet Brown).
From meme culture to TikTok, and all of the viral tweets in between Black Twitter appears to elevate & popularise any content that falls into its hands. Now, whilst there is no such thing as Black Twitter HQ, there is a flurry of ‘Super Users’ like T0niT0ne, Disunomics and Oloni dotted around the globe that consistently creates and contribute to conversations that have international relatability. The long mystified sub-culture has been raising eyebrows as early as 2009 when the term ‘Black Twitter’ appeared on Google’s search forum index which was sparked by the increased popularity of hashtags as a call and response to amplify conversation to a wider audience. Studies have also shown that Black users are more likely to engage with hashtags/brand campaigns than any other demographic on Twitter as African Americans make up 22 per cent of US Twitter users. Taking it back to our side of the pond, Black British Twitter appears to mirror US styles of tweeting as they take the cake for engagement with cultural events and trivia. A study showed that seven out of the nine social media influencers popular throughout the 2019 series of Love Island were Black British.
Black Twitter in Action
On an average day, you can expect to see anything from the birth of new TikTok trends to active campaigning for social justice issues directly pertaining to the Black community – you’ve got to love the range! One of the more notable trends that took place on the app was when Black British Twitter rebranded Beyonce’s new Ivy Park collection as ‘SainsBey’. The tweets began to trend and gained so much traction that Sainsbury’s themselves got in on the banter.
When culture and connectivity meet campaigning
Over the years we have seen just how impactful social media can be in spreading awareness to social issues which would otherwise go unnoticed by the media. This can be seen with movements such as #Metoo and #Oscarssowhite. Arguably none more so than the Black Lives Matter movement which was sparked by the horrific murder of George Flloyd by Chicago police on May 25th. Mass protests ensued amid the worldwide COVID-19 crisis as a result of ‘powerful users’ which are made up of Black public figures and popular voices in regional communities such as Kelechi Okafor, John Boyega and Chante Jayy disseminating mass information through the use of hashtags, videos and articles to galvanise their followers.
Brands who have usually chosen not to comment on their politics can now be seen to offer support and pledge to help dismantle systematic oppression seen in their own companies. Nike, a brand known to be daring and outspoken launched the ‘Don’t Do It campaign which came in direct response to racism in America. The much loved Tetley Tea & Yorkshire Tea infamously pledged their #Solidaritiea to protesters in a Twitter altercation with a Twitter user who was later revealed to be a *Karen in the most British Twitter moment online.
What does this mean for brands?
The call to the action seen in July resulted in many brands looking at ways to align themselves with the cause as a result of Twitter user pressure and the media. Brands are now being looked at to provide receipts for their cultural and diversity claims and staying silent is no longer seen as acceptable. As an agency, we look to do our part by continuing to champion Black voices, creatives and brands and will be sharing more content, insights and opinions from key people in the industry soon.
What does this mean for the PR industry?
Black influencers clearly contribute pure gold dust in terms of Internet culture, so now is the time to give them the spotlight that they deserve and pay them the same as other influencers in the digital marketing world whilst doing so.
Make sure to let us know your thoughts on our social channels:
And of course, let us know for any other areas you’d like us to cover in our next ‘A slice of Digital PR”
Until our next time,
*Not sure what a “Karen” is? Well, that’s a whole other “a slice of Digital PR” post on internet language, so watch this space..