Click To Tell It On The Mountain: The Evolution of Cultural Marketing Signals

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This is a podcast episode titled, Click To Tell It On The Mountain: The Evolution of Cultural Marketing Signals. The summary for this episode is: <p>The marketer’s job specification is to eternally find ways to better understand their customers. In recent years the refinement of their messages has been aimed at attracting a diverse body of consumers. Today's effort stems from the early attempts to court Black consumers as the Black middle class emerged from the days of the Great Migration and evolved in its interests.</p><p><br></p><p>This inspiring and thought-provoking presentation will look at how that emergence and the rise of digital marketing media influences strategies, and solutions used to create stronger bonds with consumers. The digital innovations that have emerged have not always met consumers' expectations or aligned with their values.</p><p><br></p><p>This presentation will look at the history of marketing to black consumers, the rise of data and analytics that influence strategy, and the best practices based on recent failed and successful campaigns.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
A brief history of marketing to black consumers.
05:09 MIN
How access to data has transformed marketing to different communities.
01:20 MIN
African-Americans shop online 11% more than the average household
01:08 MIN
Three questions marketers need to ask themselves.
01:53 MIN

Pierre DeBois: Hello and welcome to my presentation. My name is Pierre DeBois. I'm the founder of Zimana Analytics and today I will present Click to Tell It on the Mountain: The Evolution of Cultural Marketing Signals. I'm so glad you could join me today for this brief presentation that will touch upon a little bit of history, a little bit of technology, how they blend together. A little bit of analytics, just a smidgen bit and then, also, some marketing tips to help you connect with African- American consumers. Again, my name is Pierre DeBois. I'm the founder of Zimana Analytics and I want to tell a little bit about myself. I founded my company back in 2009 in Brooklyn, New York. I'm currently based out of Gary, Indiana, just outside of Chicago. I'm currently a marketing contributor to CMSWire and, also, to a number of sites as well. And I'm also a speaker for a number of different developer conferences and marketing conferences as well, too. Now, you may be wondering what my company does. Well, we focus on Google Analytics, helping small and medium sized businesses understand how to take the analytics data and how to improve their marketing and make very sound decisions. We also work with our programming for some data modeling and some statistical analysis and we tie that together for a lot of great business development and marketing decisions. And so, without further ado, I want to talk a little bit about what the overview is for this presentation. We're going to talk about the history of marketing, particularly to Black consumers, and a little bit about how that marketing has evolved as the social history of Black people have evolved. And the reason I focused in on this was, I thought this would be a great way to help marketers understand why history is a big part of some of the decisions that need to go into your marketing. Without that, you can run a risk of, maybe, saying something or doing something that's offensive and even ruining your brand. We'll talk a little bit about how the advancement of technology and some social change that came from that introduces some new trends. And, we'll talk a little bit about how messages are deemed good and bad culturally. Just because something is in an ad or in a newspaper does not mean that it's necessarily acceptable. And then, we'll talk a little bit about some ideas about how marketers can better trust among Black consumers. And some of these are tips that you can take away for different cohorts of different cultural groups in terms of what you should be looking for. So, this should give you a little bit of a framework of where to start and where to go in. So, first, let's take a look at the historical evolution of consumerism among African- Americans. And we're going to start from a very specific period, I'm going to take you way, way back to the days of the Great Migration and this was going back to early in the 1900s, just after the new century and there was a lot of labor shortages in the northern factories, a lot of need for labor. That, combined with treatment of Black citizens, particularly with the Jim Crow laws, which limited Black agency in the south, the United States experienced the largest and most rapid mass internal movement of people. Between 1916 and 1940 1.6 million people migrated into these new territories in the north looking for new opportunities. And there was a second migration from 1940 all the way up to just after the Civil Rights Movement, up to 1970, where 5 million people also migrated as well, too. And, from this great migration, a number of things came into play. Artists, businesses and entertainment emerged. Things that were supposed to be able to bring a lifestyle or a better way of life for African- Americans. This is also a time where blues musicians came to Chicago to own their skills and play and entertain. And this is also when [Parnam's 00:04:09] influence begins to grow as well, too. And so, we had these different enclaves of communities where African- Americans lived. To be fair and inaudible, this wasn't an empowering time. A lot of these enclaves developed based off of redlining, residential redlining and restrictions on where Black people live still existed in the north just as much as it did in the south. Moving up to the north, while there were labor shortages, there was also a lot of competition for that labor. So, there were labor conflicts that also occurred along the way. Much of this movement created a lot of the historical Black communities that we, today, hear about whether it's Tulsa, Oklahoma, blackballing which is in Detroit, movement that brought people to the west, out to Los Angeles and Oakland, places where people went to included Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, of course, Chicago, thanks to Bronzeville, that was called the Black Metropolis at that time. And then, also, my hometown, Gary, Indiana as well, too. There was just a lot of movement that brought people to different parts of the country beyond the south and, to a certain extent, beyond the north east as well, too. And so, with all this movement and people moving in, you ended up with a new consumer class that formed. As I mentioned before, there was a lot of redlining at the time which meant that when white people look for goods and services, they needed to know who to turn to. So, that created a little bit of interest, I should say, at that time. The second part of this is media. Of course, media plays a role in keeping us informed, helping people to understand where to find information, where to find good services and events. And, local newspapers became a central part of giving information for the community. And then, on top of that, you had an economy of professionals that developed. Doctors, all sorts of skilled professionals that came into play. Teachers, doctors and nurses and so forth. And all of this came from Black workers that entered into various industries as they moved to different parts of the country, in different regions of the United States. Now, while all this has happened, again, we have to keep in mind that Blacks were constantly protecting their individual agency, which means their right, their freedoms to be able to defend themselves but they were doing this while experiencing segregation and discriminatory practices and straight up laws that just made it difficult to move to other parts of the countries if people so choose. Now, while this was going on, we need to take a look at technology and the role that technology plays. We think of technology as our laptops, our computers, our smartphones but technology is more than that. It's more about the tools that humanity can use to make life or improve life and make things convenient, basically. And there was a lot of technological change. In this chart here I'm showing you, there were three periods, according to a sociologist Hilbert, that he examined how technology had been transformed. And he talked about a material age. Do you see where people made stone tools, bronze tools, iron tools to serve purposes. And then, there was what was called a transforming energy age. And if you look at each one of these things that are listed, there's water power, steam, electric and combustion engine, each one of these was taking power, some sort of fuel and placed into a motor and provided some form of transportation or some form of automation and that sped up or increased conveniences for people. And then, of course, you have the transformation of information which is a big part of some of the discussion we'll have the day. And that's basically taking information. It's either being communicated, documentation and storing that information into some digital media format. So, one example of a nexus of how these things come together or experiences that come together, when you look at travel. I mentioned earlier that, again, during this time, while there was some movement that went in terms of Blacks moving to different parts of the country, there were still some restrictions on where to go, where you could stay. There were sundown towns during this time where Blacks could not stay in a particular portion of the town or had to leave a town at sundown which is how the name sundown town came to be. Victor Hugo Green published a book called The Negro Motorist Green Book and this was an annual guide that listed hotels, shops and services that served Black motorists. Now, remember, this was the transformative of energy age. So, the automobile was becoming a vital means, not only to just have, but it was becoming much more affordable and people were also using it to connect to lifestyles and interests. In other words, they were budding interest in terms of traveling to see, maybe, family and friends in one town or, maybe, going someplace to see an event. For African- Americans, if you're traveling outside of your area or outside your hometown, you still need to know which hotels or places you could stay that would serve African- American consumers and that's what a Negro Motorist Green Book come into play. But again, keep in mind, as I said earlier, yes, you can look at this as a market but, again, it is a response to other things that were going on, social discrimination. So, it's not seen as being an empowering moment necessarily. Looking at how technology transforms and thinking about that history for a moment and, now, we could think about how you're transforming information. That introduced a lot of things, not only for African- Americans, but for everyone around the globe. But it also introduced a lot of speed as well, too. It introduced changes faster than previous periods. We saw digitalization of video documents and audio as data. Ways of being able to communicate information changed because of the fact that you could digitize this information and be able to send it much more quickly. The adoption of broadband made that communication faster. Everyone remembers the times of slow dial up. Well, that was way before WiFi, basically, and we'll probably see even faster speeds in the years ahead. But having some adoption of broadband helped communicate this media much faster. Faster downloads, faster shares. Cloud services lower the cost for storing and operating data. This is a big deal for a lot of companies and a lot of people who have tons of data and need a place to store it. Well, the cost of storing that, as a barrier, had dropped and that became a lot easier for service systems to develop and to manage that data as well. And, on top of all this, better computing power. Now, I don't know about you, but I remember back in my day, when I was younger in college, I bragged about having a 286. Today, that computer would definitely pale in comparison to a lot of the laptops that are available now. And, again, that old computer was an old desktop, but the laptops, much faster, much easier to port, much easier to do things on the go, which, during this pandemic, we've experienced this idea of working remote from home, having some connection from that. But all these things came together to provide a rise of transforming information, transformed how people can work and where they can work. I'm going to take it back just a little bit. During this whole period, if you notice on that previous slide, a lot of this was during the'70s,'80s and recently. There was also a little bit more of a transformation for Black consumers. Think back now to just after the Civil Rights Movement, basically, and the growth of the middle class. A lot of the magazines that came, our media became this stronger way of communicating things that are going on in the Black community. And, back in the days of the Great Migration, you had newspapers that were very local. But starting in 1945, you had the beginnings of Ebony. Started by John Johnson, Ebony was styled off of Life magazine but was supposed to speak to cultural issues and social issues of interest to African- Americans. You had Essence magazine that started in 1970 which spoke to Black women and their interests. You had Black Enterprise that came into play that spoke about Black businesses and a lot of the interest that was there for Black businesses and entrepreneurs. And they also had televisions as well, too, and things that were focused on entertainment like Soul Train, but it also was about seeing culture and connecting Black African- Americans from across the country and seeing us on a TV screen enjoying and showing dance styles that were also part of the day. And all these combined talked about, not only a little bit of news, but covered fashion, celebrity trends and political topics that was speaking to aspiring Black professionals. And all that speaks to all of what's going on in today's market, which is a blend of societal movements and tech advancement. There's progress from the civil rights era in terms of more agency than what was there during the days of the Great Migration. One other tip that has come into play is a shifting diversity that's going on in the United States. If you haven't read it, according to the last census, our diversity in the United States has shifted. There are different places and parts of the country where there's an increase in the number of Hispanic, African- American and Asian- American citizens and, in that process, that introduces another sense of social interest and other demands, also, for connecting with each other. And then, on top of those, you have, again, the internet, social media and smart devices changing how we communicate. If you stop and think about it, we communicate differently now than we did in times before and part of that is because of the fact that from all the technology advancement, layered on top of there is now a communication layer through social media. Being able to talk to one another, share ideas, learn about ideas. And then, with smart devices through tablets and smartphones that are more powerful than computers of days of yore, you have the opportunity to experience this on the go. So, it changes how people communicate, what they see, what they experience and, over the time, this has started to tie into a lot of our cultural norm which we'll talk about that a moment. So, with all this, our media and the access to it evolved into a unique impact and it started to create more capability to reveal trends through data analysis. And so, what this means is that, as we digitized, it provided a way of noticing trends that, during the times of Ebony and Black Enterprise and Essence, weren't really known among marketers in mainstream, basically. You have purchase trends that were more noticeable now because there was a little bit more data that could measure and indicate some impact. This, bolstering a lot of the cases for investment and advertising opportunities within the Black community. The investment and advertising has been talked about quite a bit within that community for years. Even if you went back and looked for interviews from John Johnson and Earl Graves, you can find a lot of discussion about the trials and challenges in selling a magazine to Black audiences and trying to convince advertisers that the dollars were there, that consumer need was there with data that has become much more transparent. But on top of that, it's a little bit more than just venues for consumers, it has also been used for businesses as well, too. More venues for businesses to sell products and services became available to a wider audience. It could be social media platforms, internet platforms or those platforms as an extension of brick- and- mortar as well, too, introduce more opportunities for people to connect. This also introduced a path for entrepreneurs to garner investment in app or software- based ventures. This just means that entrepreneurs who never had the eye of VC capital before, are now enjoying a lot more eyes these days thanks to much more widespread accessibility to software, to software development, to app development, to business concepts and being able to share ideas through the internet and cloud services. And many of these opportunities were also starting to correlate with the population trends I mentioned about among Black, Hispanic and Asian- American. Most times, when people talk about diversity, we talk about people. But one of the challenges that has always been in the United States is that, that population shift has never been exactly the same from state to state to state. For example, African- Americans make up 13, almost 14% of the US population. But if you were going to Arizona, you would probably see 4%. That means that a company that might be operating in Arizona might have to think about their strategy a little differently in terms of recruitment, diversity, in terms of who to network, where to go. So, each state, each area is almost its own cohort and, through technology, we've been able to learn how to connect to each other. And, that creates an opportunity for a number of people, not only for businesses, but also for, depending on the culture, cultural agency as well. Now, it's quite interesting how websites and smartphones became key portals. Websites were originally static documents, if you stop and think about it. They were meant to provide information to people anytime, anywhere. That was the big advertising. Again, HTML, CSS and JavaScript thrown together to create a web page just for you. But over time, sites evolved into a much more dynamic platform as the programming became much more dynamic, much more able to provide more features. It made it possible for sites to become much more of a communication platform. If you stop and think about it, an app is just another type of medium just like a website. Maybe different code or programming, but a medium none the same. The dynamics of being able to share data and be able to input and retrieve data became possible with that dynamism. And then smartphones evolved. No more do we see smartphones as being the small flip things. Now, pretty much, smartphones, they're their own computer. They allow not only for making a call but, these days, you probably think of a smartphone more as a camera than a phone. And that the lens camera capabilities evolved every year, not only just through more resolution, but more and more capability of storing video, more and more capability of sharing information making it easier for people to work together and collaborate together. And then, on top of that, you have apps on smartphones and tablets that introduced new experiences for the customers. From games to being able to complete retail task. The idea that, today, that you can go and order your Starbucks or order your Mickey D's and go to your store and be able to pick it up without having to dial is amazing. I remember when Mickey D's just barely had a drive thru, that was amazing. But today, thanks to smartphones, you have a number of different ways of placing an order, picking up an order and even gaining status and knowing even when to pick up an order as well. And that is something that is available for everyone. So, with all this happening, who are the people that are emerging, that are coming forth today that marketers should be paying attention to? Well, a lot of that comes through from the rise of Black Twitter, this is the informal connection of African- American consumers and citizens on Twitter, basically. But it's a little bit more than just being Black on Twitter. Think of it as one of many cohorts that exist. We talk about African- Americans, we talk about Hispanic, we talk about Asian- Americans, every group has different subgroups or cohorts within a group and it can be all based on interest or shared behaviors or shared interests, if you will. And, for Twitter, it was easier for subgroups to emerge thanks to the use of hashtags. Now, hashtags, I won't bore you with details on what a hashtag is, but you've seen it probably. Pound sign, pound sign. And it's used on Instagram, of course. You can, technically, use it on Facebook, but most people don't. But hashtags have always been associated with Twitter and part of the reasoning is that people have used those hashtags as a campfire, as a way of bringing people together. Some of you have had Twitter chats, for example, following a particular hashtag to be able to grow and experience and connect to people. And then, also, they use it as an expression for us on social issues as well, too. Whether it's expression on a social issue or even for fun, as the hashtag ask Rachel was a response back to a person that led a NAACP office out in the northwest in Washington State. But on top of that, you have different groups. And the idea is that each group responds on Twitter. Now, because of that, if you go back and look at stats, looking at Pew Institute, Pew Institute, by the way, is really great for these types of discussions. You'll find that Black and Hispanic consumers index high on engagement metrics. And this just means that, if you go back and look at where we are and where we experience and how active we are on these platforms, there's a delta. And understanding where that delta is can help in terms of helping marketers understand where their message should be. Where they should be not only giving a message, but also receiving a message as well, too, and giving it culturally right. This give and take, to be honest with you, is unprecedented. If you go back and think about the times of Ebony, the times of Essence, the times of Black Enterprise, yes, people had it in their homes but, unless you knew somebody, you didn't know that these magazines exist. And so, some things, culturally, we're not quite as far ranging as what is now. And so, this unprecedented exposure can be a teaching moment culturally as well as the fact that it's really new. Again, globally, we're communicating differently and we have unprecedented ways of expressing culture and hearing culture. And so, from all this, what has emerged is this very strong influence of Black consumers in different segments. Nielsen has since followed this quite a bit. In 2018, Nielsen reported that Black women, for example, Black women consumer preferences and their brand affinities will drive total Black spending power to$1. 5 trillion by 2021. And this was predicted back in 2018. Online shopping has become a convenient and safe alternative to brick- and- mortar shopping and African- American households took advantage of it. Back in 2020, 48% of African- American households shopped online, 11% more than the average household. So, this is an example of the delta that I'm talking about as an audience indexing slightly higher than average and advertisers has started to take notice. The top 20 advertisers spend on media focused on African- Americans has increased. It increased from$3. 34 billion in 2011 to$ 3. 86 billion in 2019, almost a 16% increase. Advertisers are learning the lesson that if they are to walk the talk about inclusion, part of that includes looking at where they spend and looking at where their marketing is going. And so, who are the people that are coming through, that are emerging? I had three groups I kept in mind when I really sat down and thought about this. There's three ways in looking at this. You can look at people who influence when they're online, so I call one group Stomping At The Savoy. These are people who are influencers, but their influences come from skills and talents from traditional media. Now, let me back up and explain a little bit and I'll explain the cultural difference as well, too. During the time of Great Migration, remember I mentioned about jazz musicians coming in and entertaining and the growth and I made a footnote about Harlem's influence? Well, there were a lot of entertainers that traveled and, in the process, these were the people that represented African- American culture to mainstream, these were people that were most prominent. So, even for discrimination issues, a lot of times, some of our earliest encounters or steps and pushback came from Black entertainers. Whether you're a singer, a dancer, a jazz musician, even a boxer. What made me think about this in terms of influencers were people who still come from that tradition in some ways. And most of these are names you know. Serena Williams, Beyonce is a musician, Colin Kaepernick, football. You can even think about President Barack Obama as an influencer. But all these people, yes, they have an online presence at some level, but what they're known for, their core skills and talents are very similar to the Lena Hornes and all the other musicians of the day, known for what their talents are, what they were able to achieve. And then you have people who are stomping live stream and these are more recent. These are the people whose experiences have been, not only exposed through social media, but it comes through on social media and there's different levels of that. You can have activists like DeRay Mckesson, who's been an activist for Black Lives Matter. You can have someone who's doing a lifestyle like Angela Davis, who is known as The Kitchenista. And then, there's my personal favorite, Issa Rae. Issa Rae, most people know her now from HBO, from her show Insecure but, before that, she had a program on YouTube called The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and she used that as a platform to, not only showcase her talents, but talent of other African- American actors, actresses and some production as well, too. And, again, this speaks to the power of what social media can bring in terms of allowing people to be exposed to different culture, different experiences. And, when you look at culture, we're seeing a number of people who have built up an audience through these digital platforms and we'll see more of this into the future as well. Now, a third group I wanted to identify in here that's also grown is, I call it the entrepreneurial class. And, this is almost as a mix of the previous two, but it's really a mix of celebrity, tech savvy citizens and corporate partnership and this is a new type of entrepreneurial deal. We are far from the day of just only having Black businesses being, maybe, small or artisan. There's a lot of different ways to partner and part of that comes from the technological advances that have happened over the years. We have Margaret Nyamumbo who introduced a coffee called Kahawa 1893. She is the first Black woman who owned a coffee brand that has reached Trader Joe's store shelves. You have a range where Black businesses can partner with the big boxes, with the large retailers. Yonas Beshawred, CEO of Stackshare, created a platform to allow developers to grow and develop their startup dreams as well, too. So, again, you have an entrepreneur who found a way to build a platform and expand it out. And then, finally, I mentioned about Rhianna as an example and this may be a strange example but I brought this up, she's a singer but... So, you might think, " Okay, she's from that stomping in the savoy group.", but she reached a billionaire status at 33 with her own clothing line. So, there's a little bit of a difference here. She's almost known more for the clothing than she is for, maybe, a hallmark song. If you think about any artist that you popularly know, whether it's Prince or Michael Jackson, any artist that you can think of, if you hum a certain tune, you can remember that artist. Well, today's music industry is a little different and you can also even say it for entertainment as well, too. So, there's a lot of different entertainers and singers who are not just sitting and trying to be the entertainer for that skill, they're also building entrepreneurship outside of it and even gaining some huge recognition beyond that. So, that's why I also mentioned her on here as well, too. Again, as an idea of thinking about what's been emerging over these years. And so, all this plays into multicultural marketing and it should raise a couple of questions that you may want to think about at the start, if you're thinking about how to strengthen your marketing with multicultural marketing in mind. Three questions I would think about is to ask yourself, whom should I partner with? Who would be the right person, team, organization that I should partner with, basically, where values can be expressed? I mentioned a lot about social media and cloud and platforms, that raises a good question. What channels should I use in reaching out and building that alliance? Once you partner with somebody, what's the talent you should use? And, these two things will dictate that third question about where your media spend should go. Each platform has their own media or options available that will allow you to broaden your marketing and partner and build your brand. So, understanding those platforms can help you understand what your options are at the end of the day. So, what should marketers do to engage customers properly? Well, there's a number of things that marketers could do. What marketers should do when you think about customers and think about engagement is to consider the history. And this is why I bring up all these things about history and technology and how they blend together. You have to consider the community need, you have to consider geography. Remember, what I mentioned about in terms of the population shift, that dictates where you spend time. Thinking about community needs, geography and then history and think about how that ties into your high- level messaging and how it ties into your media things. And then you seek active digital communities, not just static directories. The days of just trying to go to a book and say, " Hey, who is this person?", and connecting through just a book, those days are over. You need an active community, whether it's something that you build on your own or something that you partner to, if it's online, there needs to be activity, it's no longer about being static. And from these, you look at trying to create cross- functional collaboration and there's a lot of ways you can do this. You don't have to be with the Rhianna's of the world necessarily. You can look for micro influencers, people who may have a smaller following maybe on a social media platform or a smaller audience, but are engaging in such a way where the audience is responding and somebody that might compliment your values or your strategy. Again, looking at those collaborations with micro influencers, organizations, businesses, whether it's support in online actions can hold strategic potential. Now, if you're not sure where to start, I'm an analytics person, my personal preference is to go back and use your analytic reporting. What you want to do is you look at where your referral traffic is coming from and seeing where you need to adjust and where to play. There's a little trick that I would teach the organizations on looking at the referrals from social media platforms. Taking a look at that and ranking it. Doing that can help you in a number of ways. It helps you understand where your performance has been, it helps you understand where you may be able to leverage that performance and where you need to make adjustments. So, you go back and what you want to do is rank and there are a couple metrics you can rank your platforms by. The best way, really, is by revenue. The second- best way is by conversions. The third best way is by engaged sessions. And then, if all those three fail, at least looking at visits. So, what you should look at is, for example, let's say that you have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and you're looking at traffic for all four of those platforms and it looks like Facebook might have more traffic than TikTok. But if you're looking at revenue or conversions, you might see that TikTok might have more conversions than Facebook. So, that's telling you that there may be a little bit more engagement going on, there's people that may be responding to what you're doing on that presence. And that might be a great way of saying, " Hey, this is where we need to strengthen our presence." And I would say, if you're looking at this type of ranking, look at the ranking at a 30-day, 60- day or a 90- day period. And this is a fast and quick way of seeing if these rankings hold, basically. Now, it doesn't have to be 30, 60, 90, you can have different events that you know about in your past timeline and say, " Okay, prior to this event, even after this event, here's what we're doing." That can be just as valid too. But the point of it is you want to rank your referral traffic, the best way is by revenue or conversions. If you don't have that, second best way is by engaged sessions so you can get an idea of how long people are spending time on your site or app. And if those aren't available, then you can look at visits as a last resort. But ranking, it gives you, at least, a starting point in your discussions in trying to figure out where you're already playing to your strengths, where you might need to adjust. Another tool that you might want to consider is using your social media dashboards and there's a few that are out there. My personal favorite has been Hootsuite, but you can also look at TweetDeck as well, too. And the idea with this is to take a look and see if you meet influencers that you want to talk to, you want to get an idea of how they're engaging online. And what Hootsuite and TweetDeck does, for those of you who are not familiar with it is, is that you can have a filter channel. Instead of having a newsfeed like you have in Facebook and Twitter, you can have a filter channel based off of either a hashtag or a profile ID. By doing that, you have the opportunity to streamline the number of posts and follow the thread a little bit more closely, a little bit more carefully. If you're dealing with an influencer or maybe a small business or maybe an organization you are partnered with, it gives you an idea of what their day- to- day is like. Now, granted, over the years, people have started to use more schedulers for postings and so forth, that's okay. Using those schedulers is a way of keeping up with a lot of media and, maybe, also a way of letting you know if that profile is being well- maintained as well, too. And you want people who are going to be responsive at some level. But having some mix of a response, scheduling is okay at this point. But the point of this exercise is to really just get a sense of who you're dealing with online and seeing if it aligns to what you see when you've either met or whether you've had some meeting, or if you met in real life or met through a Zoom call, so to speak. With all this in mind, you may be thinking, " Well, how do I choose a good partner?" A good partner can help you answer a couple of questions for you and here's a few that you want to think about. You want to think about what topics are being discussed with cultural history in mind, not just opinion, cultural history. Many times, people will give their opinions on certain things, many times people will give their insights and that's okay. But there needs to be some sense of cultural insight or cultural connection for that influencer to really be valid. Sometimes, some influences are not always necessarily thinking about that as a primary and that might sway your decision a little bit in terms of who to connect to. Ask that influencer or that platform how they are in terms of avoiding playing into misinformation. Misinformation is a big deal on the internet right now. Bad memes, memes that have an agenda in the message. Keeping those clean and away are really important these days. And you want to know, basically, are you dealing with a partner who's proactive and not just being passive? Another question to think about is how are followers receiving the information? Are you seeing some mentions about this platform? Are you hearing good things? It may take a while for smaller ones, particularly for some of the micro influencers or maybe for a small platform that, maybe, is playing in the regional area. But you still want to see that people are responding and engaging with them, asking questions and responding. That's very important. A fourth question is thinking about the messaging. Is the messaging relatively consistent on their primary and secondary platforms? And here's what I mean by this. Most times, groups, influencers, businesses are not just on one social media, there's a lot of different platforms. Within the last year or two, we all learned about what live chat is, thanks to Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Some groups are still Twitter, some groups are still Facebook, some individuals, some influencers are very big on Instagram and some people are clearing out spaces on TikTok. If they're going on multiple platforms, there needs to be at least some consistency in how they engage or how they speak to people. And that doesn't mean be perfect, but there shouldn't be a professional image on one platform and then a wildly different, surprising difference on another. It may not be necessarily a red flag, but it also means that it can be a risk in some situations, depending on what type of content. So, you want some consistency built in there. Now, one of the things to keep in mind when looking at sentiment online, we talked about dashboards to hear and listen to people, but there are more sophisticated ways. And, one of the things to keep in mind now is that you can do analysis on the news feed on a number of social media platforms and this is thanks to the use of developer API's and the use of programming languages such as R and Python. You can actually do what's called a sentiment analysis. A sentiment analysis is, basically, taking text, throwing it into a corpus, which is like a container, think of as a container, and then applying a lexicon to figure out what the general sentiment is based off of the words. So, for example, if you were doing a sentiment analysis on your favorite football team and let's say that your favorite football team isn't quite exactly the best football team in the world. If you went on Twitter and import some of the texts into a corpus, you probably would see a lot of commentary. Some saying, " Hey, this is still my team." Some saying, " Hey, this is not my team." And some probably a lot more worse. But what a sentiment analysis does, it gives you a snapshot of what the emotion is. It can be used for a number of different things, but the one of the best things you could probably use it for is for products, services and, maybe, events to get a sense of what people are feeling. Now, for privacy, it's not done for identifying individuals. In fact, what you're doing is taking statements, words, sentences and stripping them down and putting them into a predictive model to help you give some guide point of what people are feeling. So, it's a great way of understanding, as an aggregate, how people are feeling about a particular product, service or event and it's a pretty straightforward framework. I won't go through the deep programming. What you see on the right- hand side of the screen is a code. I did a presentation on this some years ago that was based on IHOP. If you maybe remember, IHOP had a campaign for taking their name and having the letter B instead of the letter P indicate the introduction of burgers to their restaurants. And so, I did a sentiment analysis just to see what the sentiment was on Twitter about that change. And so, to do this, there's just a couple of frameworks to put together. You want to get your API keys, what you can get from a developer platform, from most social media platforms. Twitter's probably the most well- known because it's treated as news. But you can do the same thing with Facebook as well. And then, what you want to do is import the tweets into your program. And, within our programming, there are libraries that allow you to do this. In Python, you can build code around it if you want. But once you bring it in, you, then, want to strip out what's called stop words and these are words or technical characters that really don't advance a discussion. So, things like the, a, of. If somebody is sharing a link, a HTTP, if that's in the text, that could be considered a stop word. These are things that are repeatedly brought up that really don't have a lot of meaning by themselves, basically. Think preposition and that's your stop word. But stripping those out, that'll leave you with nouns, verbs and adjectives which you can then place into a corpus. And a corpus is just, basically, an object in a programming language. It's basically just an object, it could be a variable or a data object, if you will. Placing it in there and then you can put together a plot, a lexicon to indicate the sentiment based on your corpus that contains your text. And there's a lot of different lexicons out there that could be used. Most lexicons are based off of language, so if they're slang or something that's very unique or something very technical, if it's a technical language and your audience is technical, you can look at that as well, too. But the point is, this is a framework for you to get a sense of how people may be feeling about your product, service or event and that can help you in the terms of the partners that you deal with. Now, as you can imagine, brands are scrutinized all the time. Bad messages from brands are the gotchas. A lot of these bad messages are things are culturally inappropriate, basically. These are things where a brand should know better and check. And there's a number of different examples that have happened over the years. I just mentioned a few things that have happened and most of these are things that would never be checked or brought up. For example, Louis Vuitton was called out for having a sweater that was supposed to be representative of Jamaican colors but they had, literally, the wrong colors on the sweater. They were called out very heavily on Twitter. Snapchat had to apologize, I think it was over a year ago, for a Juneteenth filter that they had. It was an augmented reality filter that, basically, had people smile while breaking their chains, basically. The implication for that, in terms of slavery, it was a very hurtful time for Black people. And so, having people smile came across as an insult. Amazon had one more technical and this was more about machine learning. They had overlooked a fluent Black neighborhood when they launched Prime back in 2016 and the way that this was done was that they used a machine learning model which did not account for redlining. Some of the historical neighborhoods in different parts of the country like Boston and in Atlanta as well. And so, they were called out for that. And then, just recently, Italian fashion firm Balenciaga. It was supposed to emulate a fashion that really is considered distasteful among African- Americans, even though some people have done that. For them to pick up something that was controversial and not filter that and ask questions on whether or not that's acceptable or not, whether it's accepted within culture and, the worst, turn it into a luxury item got a lot of feedback and was considered racist, basically. But there are brands that are getting things right. And the ones that do get it right, they do it by learning how to speak to community concerns through, not just their words, but also through action and policy. Sephora, actually, is a great example of this. Many times, African- Americans have dealt with unfair treatment at retail stores, whether it's racial profiling. And so, what Sephora did was that they came back and did a very great tweet back in January, where they indicated the statistics, 2 in 5 shoppers have experienced unfair treatment, and they gave a specific action that played into their policies. That they were rolling out an action plan to create a more equitable shopping experience for all and then provided a link to learn more. And so, the idea with this is that, Sephora was trying to show consistency, they were very definitive in what their messaging is. They showed that they value the consumer equally and equitably. And then, on top of that, they acknowledged a historical treatment. In this case, it was racial profiling and acknowledged how they were going to step up and address it. So, today's retailers have to find a way of not just staying in the background and saying, " Hey, we like inclusion.", but they need to get to today's Black consumer, they have to look at how they speak to the community, they have to look at how they speak to the action and learn how they can do so through policy. And that has to be learned very quickly because negative comments spreads very quickly online. This example I have on the slide was with a furniture store, and this was actually in Australia, where it made a quip about the Coronavirus. And what was interesting was they made this quip on Facebook, but if you noticed, in this picture, the conversation is happening on Twitter. And you can see in a tweet towards the bottom, Harvey Norman made a response and said, " Hey, the franchisee has been contacted and they have removed the sign." So, this should tell brands something very important, that people, when there's bad news, it's not just kept on Facebook, it's not just kept on Instagram, it's not just kept on TikTok. People share a breach of trust across platforms, they do it quickly. And responsiveness to negativity, usually, can be appreciated. Each platform algorithm is a little bit different, so there may be different strategies that you may have to pay attention to. But the point of this is that you have to step up and look and think about the comments that are made and how you can respond quickly to them and align your partners in doing so. So, what influences lie ahead? Well, a couple there are on the horizon. One of which is coming into play now, is the adoption of live chat as another way of connecting people together. We've seen this with Clubhouse in terms of people who are discovering each other in Clubhouse and, also, discovering each other on Instagram and on Twitter. And, speaking of which, Twitter also has their own version of Clubhouse called Twitter Spaces. And then, on top of that, you have Spotify Greenroom which is a play on bolstering the podcast movement, that has grown over the years as well, too, as another way of extending out. But each of these live chats become another way of learning about partners, another way of learning about influencers, another way of learning about your audience preferences and hearing it in real time rather than in a tweet or a post which has been the case over the last decade plus or so with social media. And speaking of which, with social media is the growth of online commerce. Now, social commerce has been talked about for years. How do we get the consumer to purchase our product or service while within the experience over Facebook, while within the experience over Instagram, while within the experience over Twitter? Well, that day is coming quite quickly and it's, actually, coming through the use of livestream video. If you stop and think about it, live stream video provides an opportunity for an entrepreneur, for an influencer or a brand to sell a product. And, right now, each one of the social media platforms are not only looking to strengthen their live streaming options, but they're looking to strengthen them with ways of allowing the customer to make a purchase while within that experience. And the fact that, if it's a live stream, that the customer is able to even ask questions, that becomes a huge benefit and that changes the dynamic in terms of what to look for from not only the influencers to partner with, but also in listening to the consumers and listening to their pain points as well, too. And then, all of this becomes what I call the overlap of online and offline retail. The idea that you can just be online. Online, we've realized, has been important particularly in the last few years of the pandemic, but in the process, it also means that being offline has some benefit as well and blending those services together is critically important. There are many online retailers that are learning to put a brick- and- mortar together. And there are many brick- and- mortars that are trying to figure out how to extend their online presence. A great example is Kroger. In the groceries where the margins are very, very thin, Kroger has looked at ways to try to catch up to Walmart and Target in terms of commerce online and digital commerce. So, the competition is heating up among the brick- and- mortar and the online retailers as well. There's so much blending going on and we'll see more of that. Which means, as a marketer, your customers that you're going to work with are not just going to be strictly online or strictly offline, they will blend and you have to understand how they blend to understand their needs and be able to deliver those needs as well. So, let's recap. So, we talked a little about cultural history and technology, how that introduced a cultural cohort and we did it from the perspective of Black consumers. We've talked about the importance of evaluating how to express community needs, history at interest, particularly in high- level messaging and media things. We talked a little about analytics, not going to get too deep into it but we talked about the importance of analytics to learn where to best adjust your messaging and maybe to make the best connections. Considered dashboards and sentiment analysis to learn to listen to your customer, select partners who reflect the values and cultural history right and, also, be ready to respond to breaches and trust. Anything that looks like a mishap and recognize that bad news does not remain on one platform versus the other. With all this in mind, if you implement it, keep in mind that when you always recognize cultural agency from your customers, your customers will always recognize your brand. So, with all this in mind, I will say thank you for listening and I hope that your brand find success among, not only African- American consumers, but also in terms of diversity and inclusion and find success and all that you do. Thanks for listening.


The marketer’s job specification is to eternally find ways to better understand their customers. In recent years the refinement of their messages has been aimed at attracting a diverse body of consumers. Today's effort stems from the early attempts to court Black consumers as the Black middle class emerged from the days of the Great Migration and evolved in its interests.

This inspiring and thought-provoking presentation will look at how that emergence and the rise of digital marketing media influences strategies, and solutions used to create stronger bonds with consumers. The digital innovations that have emerged have not always met consumers' expectations or aligned with their values.

This presentation will look at the history of marketing to black consumers, the rise of data and analytics that influence strategy, and the best practices based on recent failed and successful campaigns.

Today's Guests

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Pierre DeBois

|Founder, Zimana