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How to Engage African American Consumers Using Social Media

By Genia Stevens | Small Business

How to Engage African American Consumers Using Social Media image african american business woman pfHow to Engage African American Consumers Using Social MediaAccording to Huffington Post blogger, Biana Bosker, 50% of African Americans use Twitter as compared to white Americans. And with the purchasing power of African Americans reaching over $1.1 trillion in 2015, it is only understandable that companies like Atlas, Honda, State Farm and Ford along with many others have launched marketing strategies particularly targeted at African Americans. However, it isn’t just big guns like Ford that can target African Americans with a few simple tips and tricks you can also make sure that your content and marketing strategies hit the mark.

Research – Then Research Again

The first thing you need to do is to research your targeted audience. What age groups are you targeting? What are their habits? Likes and dislikes? Did you know African American women tend to spend three times more of their disposable income on beauty products than white woman?  If you’re in the beauty supply business, it makes sense that your product or service offers solutions for different skin tones, preferences, lifestyles or whatever else is applicable.   If you’re in the automotive business, have you done the research necessary to understand specific features and options that appeal to African Americans?  Did you know that African Americans tend to remain loyal to dealerships that treat them well more than any other group of people?   If you’re a car dealership, you’ll want to use your social network channels as a customer service pipeline.  This tactic will help you deliver the best customer experience possible.

Celebrate Events and Culture

A good way to engage African Americans is by posting about African American culture and special events related to African Americans.  Be careful though;  you’ll want to make sure you’ve done your research before you start haphazardly posting what you think is something related to African American culture.  By doing your research, you can avoid posting offensive information on your social network page.  You can also offer special discounts or packages based on particular events. Some of the most celebrated African American festivals are:

  • Kwanzaa
  • National Freedom Day
  • African-American Day Parade
  • African-American History Month

Look Beyond the Obvious

Every culture has a lot more to offer than exotic cuisines, traditional dances and pop culture. So, rather than sticking to the most obvious traits and habits of African Americans, look a little beneath the surface to research for things that African Americans are talking about and are currently interested in.  You can visit African American forums and blogs to see what community members are discussing.  This will help you learn more about  the interests and habits of the African American community.   Once you have done this type of research, you’ll have a deeper understanding  of the types of content that will resonate with the African American community.

Develop Content with the African American Consumer in Mind

One of the things that annoys me personally is the lack of African American representation in the marketing material developed by ad agencies and marketing firms.   White women are not the only ones who buy cleaning products, so why do most of the commercials developed for cleaning supplies feature white women?   As a marketer, you’ll want to make sure that the images you develop to post on your Facebook page accurately reflects your target market.  If your target market is only white women, then all your marketing materials that lack diverse representation will work wonders for you.    If you’re trying to appeal to all groups of people, I would suggest that you make that obvious by being more racially-inclusive when you develop videos and photos.

Be Mindful of Your Tone

Your social media manager, or the person assigned to manage the day-to-day task of dealing with customers on your social network pages, should be mindful of their own internal prejudices.    Most social network users upload a photo of themselves to their profile.  That means social media managers have some idea of the ethnic background of the person they are responding to.  Too many social media managers stereotype upset African American female customers as the “angry Black woman” and don’t provide the level of customer service they would provide if the angry customer was not African American.    I can promise you, African Americans notice that kind of thing.  Be mindful of the tone you use when responding  to angry customers, even your angry African American customers.

It is very easy to fall prey to stereotypes based on general assumptions or their portrayal by the media. It is imperative that you don’t stereotype but rather connect to your audience by offering things that are interesting and engaging.  Doing your research will help you avoid the pitfalls lots of brands make when reaching  into the African American market for the first time.   If you need to, hire a consultant who can help you successfully navigate through the process.

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Read Part 1 of this series:  How to Excite, Not Alienate, Female Consumers Using Social Media

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series:  How to to Engage Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender  (LGBT) Consumers Using Social Media

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