How Journalists Are Tapping Black Twitter to Learn About the African-American Community

There is no denying the power of Black Twitter. This online subculture has become a sustainable means for the African-American community to voice its opinions on a variety of relevant topics.

“Besides going for laughs or dropping pointed jabs at pop culture and kicking off trending topics — be they directly related to African-American culture or not — Black Twitter is often starting, or inciting, real conversation,” says Alvin Blanco, deputy editor of Hip-Hop Wired.

And it’s because the black community has embraced Twitter more than white Americans.

The Pew Research Center reports that 22 percent of online African-Americans are Twitter users, compared with 16 percent of online white Americans. It’s especially popular with 18- to 29-year-olds, of whom 40 percent of internet users say they use Twitter, compared with 28 percent of whites.

“Twitter allows us to mobilize around various issues and connect with our larger communities in the tech environment,” says Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. , founder/CEO of The Burton Wire and executive director of the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs (NAMDE).

However, if you search for “Black Twitter” on Google, you’ll find very few general market stories about it.

“There are those that say the ‘Black Twitter’ label is too confining or counterproductive,” says Blanco. “However, I don’t see anything wrong with taking ownership of your stake in social media and essentially sharing it with the rest of the world. It may be called Black Twitter, but really everyone watching, reading or retweeting is participating, no matter what their color.”

Burton recommends journalists follow Black Twitter in order to identify trends in usage patterns, topics, and issues important to the black community, while Blanco believes it would be foolhardy for a journalist to dismiss Black Twitter.

Where to follow Black Twitter

  • The Chatterati. Find out what the Black Twitter community is talking about by checking out The Root’s “The Chatterati”. It lists top hashtags trending with black tweeters in real time. The top five hashtags at the time of this writing were: #FF, #NHTD, #BWBNYC, #EssenceFest, and #GetTested.
  • Black media sites. There are many sites with continuous and comprehensive coverage of what’s trending in the Black Twitter community. “Hip-Hop Wired decided to do a #BlackTwitter100 ( because we noticed that ‘Black Twitter’ was having a profound impact on social media,” said Blanco. The #BlackTwitter100 spotlights their pick of the best 100 members of the Black Twitter society during the month of June.
  • Dig deeper. Burton recommends that in addition to following black media on Twitter, you should include accounts such as Black Girls Code (@BlackGirlsCode), Corvida Raven (@corvida), Reg Saddler (@Zaibatsu), and Navarro Wright (@navarrowwright).

PR Newswire’s African-American press list can connect you with more news about the African-American community. If you are a journalist or blogger who would like to be added, please contact [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @PRNAfricanAm.

Jessica Alas is Media Relations Director, Multicultural Markets and Hispanic PR Wire at PR Newswire. Follow her at @alasjessica.

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