Digital Diversity: A Closer Look at African Americans in the US

Multiscreening is becoming the norm as people weave seamlessly across screens and media platforms, and African Americans are leading the charge.

To help marketers better understand the roles culture and technology play in how African Americans communicate and consume media, Facebook commissioned a study by IPSOS MediaCT. Our research found that for African Americans, staying active on a combination of platforms and devices helps to connect to community and sustain culture.

Media “simply brings to light or informs me about the things going on in African American culture, whether it is a video, picture or article,” Nicole, an African American research participant, told us.

Tuned in across devices

We also discovered that African Americans are active multiscreeners: 56% of African Americans reported constantly or very often being on another device while watching TV. More specifically, African Americans view 10 hours of TV per week on average, 1.2X more than the general US population on average. But TV viewing isn’t happening in isolation: 67% of African Americans are using a mobile phone, and 63% are using a computer while watching TV.

This screen-stacking is happening during both commercial breaks and TV shows: 65% of African Americans reported using devices during commercial breaks, and 52% reported using devices during TV shows. Nearly half (49%) of research participants said they use multiple devices to visit social media while watching TV.

A Closer Look at African Americans in the US

Community conscious and brand aware

For African Americans, family encompasses community. Our research found that family is defined more broadly than one’s immediate family and includes the church community and close friends.

Facebook is seen as a go-to source for connecting with this extended family: Nearly 9 out of 10 African Americans use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, and 7 out of 10 use it to observe what friends and family are doing. African Americans are also more likely to use Facebook to communicate with family and friends daily: 63% use Facebook to communicate with family, and 60% use Facebook to communicate with friends at least once a day, compared to 53% and 54% of the total population, respectively.

While family is important to defining African American culture, our research showed that celebrating the personal achievement of other African Americans is the top link to African American cultural identity. Facebook is seen as a place to express this cultural pride. 4 out of 10 African Americans use Facebook to share personal achievements and quotes or inspirational messages.

“Facebook represents my culture in a well-rounded way. It helps me keep up with music, local and national news events and family and friends,” Tanya, an African American research participant, told us.

In addition to fostering community connections, brands are attracting the attention of African Americans on social media. Our research showed that 2 out of 5 African Americans are open to brand advertising on social media. More than half (51%) of African Americans believe that video ads on Facebook are an effective form of advertising, second only to ads recommended by family and friends on Facebook.

What it means for marketers

African Americans’ buying power is expected to grow from $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion in the next few years, making the 44 million African Americans living in the United States, approximately 14 percent of the population,1 a priority audience for brands to reach.

How can brands attract this multiscreening audience?

Activate where connections matter: Facebook is a mainstay for African Americans, serving as a destination for inspiration, daily community connections and brand interactions. To effectively reach African Americans, brands should use engaging creative, such as attention-grabbing videos on Facebook.

Create cross-screen appeal: To reach this “always-on” audience, marketers should create integrated campaigns to enhance the brand message, no matter the screen. Use digital media and Facebook to amplify TV investment by creating appointment content when African Americans are screen-stacking.

Represent cultural identity: 62% of African Americans reported that cultural background is important. As marketers develop campaigns, the cultural influences that make up the African American identity should be embraced and celebrated. According to a research participant, African American culture can be defined as “the overall American culture, Latino culture, urban culture and young adult culture.”

Represent this culturally diverse audience accurately. Social media and Facebook are extending how and where African Americans express cultural identity.

 

This is the second post of a 3-part series based on the IPSOS MediaCT study commissioned by Facebook. These posts explore how culture and digital media usage intersect for people who self-identify as African American, Asian American or US Hispanic.

 

Attending SXSW?
Join Facebook and IPSOS MediaCT to discuss Digital Diversity: How Culture Impacts Digital
Date: Friday, March 13, 2015
Location: Hyatt Regency Austin Zilker Ballroom 2
Time: 11am–12pm

 

Note 1: Source: Nielsen, “Powerful. Growing. Influential: The African-American Consumer 2014 Report.”