Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
March 26, 2012

Leverage Online Dialogue and Conversations to Create Multicultural Brand Ambassadors!

Join Tyrha M. Lindsey and Bruce Kirton for their Digital Impact Conference session, The Digerati: Social Media Habits of Multicultural Consumers.” The PRSA 2012 Digital Impact Conference, to be held April 2–3 at the Sentry Center in New York City, offers workshops where public relations professionals will hear from entrepreneurs and others who specialize in technology communications or social and digital media.

Multicultural consumers wield a significant amount of influence on popular trends in the general market, and consequently, smart marketers understand the importance of engaging this segment. For the sake of brevity, I will focus on the African-American segment in this article, but each ethnic segment has particular online behaviors and habits that can be leveraged to build a relationship with those consumers.

African-Americans access their favorite sites for entertainment, news and information via the Internet, and more often via mobile devices. In fact, more than 25 percent of online hours are now spent online via mobile devices (Brand Information Sources Among African-Americans, December 2011).

They rely heavily on online sources for brand information — 95 percent do online research before making a purchase at least some of the time. They are heavy users of social media sites, especially Twitter and Facebook. “Advisers” within the African-American community, those who always or frequently give advice across multiple product categories, are advice exchangers — those who ask and are asked for opinions of products and services. They are likely to be brand champions within online communities and social networks.

Social networks and blogs are still the top destination online, accounting for 23 percent of time spent online (twice the amount of the #2 category, online games — Nielsen). For instance, The Young, Black & Fabulous ( social network has the highest concentration of African-American females, ages 25–54. These insights, coupled with the rise of social networks and blogs, make it critical to factor these channels into your marketing and communications outreach. African-American consumers place a lot of trust in the recommendations of their peers, which makes social media an ideal platform for influencers to spread their thoughts and ideas, and to influence purchase decisions. So, to be part of the dialogue and leverage the passion of the African-American market segment to spread the word about your brand, be sure to include the relevant blogs and social media sites in your media and communications mix.

Bruce Kirton is director of strategic planning and a lead strategist at the UniWorld Group. There, he serves such clients as CVS, the Marines, Colgate and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

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