Are Marketers Succeeding in Targeting African-American Consumers With Social Media?

November 14, 2012  |  

“The consumer is at the center of everything we do at P&G, and it’s no different with ethnic consumer groups,” said Coleman-Hagler. “We pride ourselves on getting to know our audience and what is important and relevant to them, which has helped the longevity of the campaign.”

By finding relevant topics and figuring out how the brand fits in, P&G has built a relationship with its fans, and that has earned high engagement for its Facebook page. Engagement for the Facebook page hovers around 10 percent, said Coleman-Hagler, and the page, which has more than 900,000 “likes,” sees an average of 15,000 new “likes” a week. On Twitter, which has become a popular social site within the black community, @MBIBMovement has nearly 21,000 followers.

The MBIB target audience responds well to visual and audio content on social media, Coleman-Hagler said, and likes to discuss topics including beauty, hair, lifestyles, current events, and community issues. “When thinking about what to post, we also try to make sure we are including timely and engaging content that inspires, celebrates and empowers our consumers,” she said.

Honda’s Battle of the Bands
Honda, Verizon Wireless and SunTrust Bank partnered for the 11th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase, kicking off in October 2012, where fans vote for their favorite marching band from a list of HBCUs. The program encourages consumers to share photos, videos and their personal marching band stories via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

“Social media is a major element of our program because it’s a major element of daily African-American life,” said Gina Jorge, assistant manager of multicultural marketing for the American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in an email with Madame Noire. “Studies show that African-American consumers are early technology adopters who index heavily on social media sites.”

Honda launched its Facebook page last year for the 10th anniversary of Battle of the Bands. That generated 5,400 “likes” within four months, and the page currently has nearly 8,500 “likes.” During last year’s program, Honda earned more than 5,700 hashtag mentions on Twitter, and encouraged tweets from celebrities including Ludacris, Monica and actor Laz Alonso.

Honda had the challenge of trying to bring together a wide-ranging audience made up of everyone from students and family to alumni and marching band fans. Not only did social media help bridge the gap, but so did the connection to this unique element of black culture.

“We have found that these audiences look forward to the Invitational Showcase every year, and that by connecting with these communities via social media, we are able to extend the reach of the program and build excitement around the various events that surround it,” Jorge said.

Both of these well-known brands are positive and optimistic about their social media programs targeting black consumers. The long-running programs and high engagement rates show that consumers are responding to the outreach—and that will bring about even more social campaigns.

“We see a continued increase in engagement across emerging digital, social and mobile platforms,” Jorge added. “As we continue to expand the Honda Battle of the Bands, we’ll continue to expand our social media efforts to continue to reach African-American consumers, in a space they are actively participating on a daily basis.”

“Listen and get to know your audience,” advised Coleman-Hagler. “By leveraging topics that our consumers are passionate about we are able to affectively engage with our target audience.”

What do you think of these marketing campaigns? Do you buy products from companies that have specific programs for the African-American community? Are marketers on the right track when it comes to outreach toward blacks?


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