To be successful on social media as an advocacy or political campaign, you have to go where your audience is. You may love MySpace (who doesn't with all those pretty pictures and rockin' bands), but if your target audience isn't there it's a waste of your time. It is best to know where your key demographics are on social media, especially where they love to be. So, in the spirit of Black History Month, this week we focus on where to find people of color on social media.
First, let's address the elephant in the room. Everyone is on Facebook; well at least almost everyone. According to the Pew Internet Project, 71 percent of Americans on the internet use Facebook. Latinos are lightly more likely to use it (73%) and Blacks are less likely (67%). Whites are right a 71 percent. What this means is that you simply cannot avoid using Facebook, regardless of what racial or ethnic group you count among your constituents.
But simply knowing that most people, regardless of demographic group, are on Facebook does not end your decision making process for what social networks to use. For example, we have heard recent rumblings about how younger Facebook users are losing interest in the platform, as may some other groups. And while the usage data does not fully support that claim (yet), we still need to consider the implications for enthusiasm. Before groups of people abandon any social network, the enthusiasm for it would likely wane as enthusiasm and usage of other networks start to climb.
In this case, Pew is reporting a range of climbing usage patterns across the big social networks by race. The first item that pops out of their data is that if your primary audiences are people of color, Pinterest may not be your network of choice. While 28-percent of internet users are on Pinterest, it is dominated by white people, with Latinos (21%) and, especially, Black (12%) users lagging far behind.
If you want to reach Black internet users, your best bets are Instagram (38% v. 26% overall) and Twitter (27% v. 23% overall). Even LinkedIn is a good choice, as Blacks are as likely to use it (28%) as internet users, overall, use it.
Like Black internet users, Latinos are also much more likely to use Instagram (34% v. 26% overall), though only slightly more likely to use Twitter (25% v. 23% overall). Unlike Black users, Latinos are much less likely to use LinkedIn (18% v. 28% overall).
The bottom line is that campaigns and organizations focusing on race relations, generally, need to have a strong presence on Instagram and Twitter, in addition to Facebook. Those focusing on issues concerning the rights of the Black community need to be on LinkedIn, too.
Knowing where your audience is on social networks will help you prioritize your staffing and social advertising dollars. In addition to the distribution by race and ethnicity, Pew provides a full demographic breakdown by social network in its full report. Take a moment to review their results. Your social media strategy will benefit immensely from it.