Maybe DJ Quik had it right in 1995 when he rapped: "If it don't make dollars, it don't make sense." That could explain Twitter's reluctance to acknowledge its most popular community, Black Twitter, until now.
Yesterday it was announced that Twitter plans to capitalize on its racially diverse user base. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, black, Hispanic, and Asian-American users account for 41 percent of Twitter's 54 million users.
For some, this might seem like a revelation. For others, this is old news. Over the last seven years, as Twitter has become deeply embedded into our daily lives, Black Twitter, too, has grown into a cultural phenomenon of sorts. We first wrote about the social network's subgroup in 2012, and have since covered the community time and again. From #PaulasBestDishes to #BlackBuzzFeed, Black Twitter has consistently provided an outlet to air grievances (the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial), analyze new shows (Scandal, Drake on SNL), and shoot the shit with friends.
Over the last seven years, as Twitter has become deeply embedded into our daily lives, Black Twitter, too, has grown into a cultural phenomenon of sorts.
"Perhaps the most significant contribution of Black Twitter is that it increases visibility of black people online, and in doing so, dismantles the idea that white is standard and everything else is 'other,'" wrote Soraya Nadia McDonald for the Washington Post. "It’s a radical demand for acceptance by simply existing—or sometimes dominating—in a space and being yourself, without apology or explanation."
That Twitter decided to hire marketing veteran Nuria Santamaria as its multicultural strategist to help better target black, Hispanic and Asian-American users may or may not be the solution to increasing engagement among non-white users. "Maybe Twitter doesn't know how to talk about Black Twitter," wondered Nitasha Tiku.
Regardless, Santamaria plans to target Twitter's Hispanic population first. The Wall Street Journal reports: "Advertisers want to know more about racial and ethnic minorities on Twitter, from basic numbers to the languages in which they tweet ... Twitter's share of Hispanic users roughly parallels the U.S. online population, but it is a fast-growing, increasingly affluent ethnic group. Hispanics are also more easily identified because of their language. Twitter doesn't ask users about race or ethnicity but categorizes them into 'interests' based on their tweets and whom they follow."
All that said, it's still too early to tell how this is all going to play out. One certainty, however, remains intact: if Twitter and Santamaria approach their new ad strategy the wrong way Black Twitter will be there to clap back.