Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study in 2009 that found African Americans made up 26% of Twitter users yet only make up 12.6% of the U.S. population. So, why are these news outlets all aflutter after Northwestern University’s latest study on Twitter’s demographics?
Perhaps it was a slow news day.
It’s no secret that African Americans use the micro-blogging social network. For one, more African American celebrities and influencers on the network, including Oprah Winfrey, Diddy, Cornel West and Roland Martin. Also, many mobile applications are optimizing Twitter’s API (that’s just a fancy abbreviation for grabbing Twitter’s data), allowing African Americans to find out the latest without having to invest in or be in front of a computer.
Still, the latest Twitter study of out of Northwestern University did shed light on the kinds of news that works best on the network: entertainment and celebrity news.
“Students of all races with an interest in celebrity and entertainment news were more likely to become Twitter users whereas someone with an interest in science and research was less likely to become a Twitter user,” said Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern and lead author of the study.
So how exactly did this become a black thing? The same reason why news outlets continue to tell us that black women are less attractive than the rest of human beings or that we’ll never get married. It’s the same reason why some black men disregard sexual assault by saying, “I don’t even like black girls,” and the same reason why Charlie Sheen thought he was winning…it’s just doesn’t make any sense.
If you’ll be a total nerd with me for a moment then the real nuance and exciting aspect of Twitter is it’s second-screen experience. In layman’s terms, when you’re watching television, live tweeting about a program can enhance the consumer experience.
It’s almost like you’re at a fabulous viewing party but none of the guests are standing in front of the television, talking too loud or spilling their drink on your cream carpet. Not to mention the guests who join the party are A-listers who would never RSVP for your normal shindig. For instance, Oprah live tweets during her Sunday night program Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, and BET Networks created an entire position to help guide tweets during their hit scripted series The Game.
“We found Twitter to be a great early indicator as to how well The Game was going to do,” Lee said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “The night of the premiere, the show was one of the top 10 trending topics.”
Instead of grasping onto the “black people are tweeting” bandwagon, perhaps outlets will start to realize what’s really cool about the social network: cultural engagement.