Black Twitter in X-ile
For advertising agencies, media companies and brands looking to stay relevant, Twitter has been the gold star of social listening since its creation in 2006. Tweets, threads and reposts offer advertisers an authentic look into the lives of the very people they’re trying to reach. However, Elon Musk’s controversial acquisition of Twitter (or X, as he has chosen to rename it) in 2022 could change all that.
The value of Black Twitter
At the heart of Twitter’s influence is a subculture known as “Black Twitter.” In this space, Black users visit this public forum to voice their concerns, share their ideas and converse with one another uncensored. The significance of these interactions in creating successful media and advertising campaigns is immeasurable as Black culture has a long history of driving trends in popular culture (see laid edges, rock and roll, voguing, and slang.)
The public discourse on Black Twitter is a crucial tool not only for reaching Black consumers, but also for forecasting upcoming trends in popular culture. By scrolling Black Twitter, marketing agencies and media companies can put a finger on the pulse of younger, hip consumers who decide what flies and what flops among the masses.
The impact on advertising and media
Since Musk’s reign began, celebrities and companies alike have abandoned the platform, putting the fate of Twitter in a precarious place. If Twitter continues to lose users, malfunction and allow the rampant use of hate speech, the site — and Black Twitter — risk extinction.
For many reasons, others are likely to follow wherever Black Twitter goes. However, if Twitter collapses before Black Twitter can come to a consensus on where to gather next (options, such as Spill, Mastodon, Bluesky, Meta’s Threads and Substack’s Notes, have yet to experience Twitter’s adoption rate), there will be a void that could negatively affect advertising, marketing and media agencies, immediately altering how brands connect to consumers.
For almost two decades, strategists and creatives have used Black Twitter to gain insights necessary to craft successful campaigns and resonant content at the speed of culture. Wendy’s jumped on the #hotgirlsummer movement as soon as it launched, several brands co-opted the African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) term “bae” immediately upon learning what it means from Black Twitter, and Rolling Stone covered Aziah “Zola” King’s viral Twitter thread less than a month after she tweeted it, resulting in a story that eventually contributed to the critically acclaimed A24 film Zola.
Without access to instantaneous insights, we could see a sharp decline in brands’ ability to integrate cultural moments into their marketing campaigns quickly and effectively, potentially costing them sales. We might also notice less engaging campaigns, lower consumer engagement and fewer successful brand experiential activations. Should Black Twitter fall, advertising, media and marketing agencies would be forced to reimagine the ways they create moving forward.