Social Uses and Gratification from a Minority Perspective: The Perception of African American Purchasing Power through Social Media Marketing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Social media has and will continue to change the way consumers make decisions. According to eMarketer, more than seventy-five percent of the U.S. adult population is online and by 2012 more than one billion people will be posting information online. These developments have changed the way businesses engage with consumers and have begun to set unprecedented new ways of marketing in the online environment. Social networks are becoming a high-priority tool for marketers. For those that have already actualized the power of social media by way of creating links to their social media sites, provide additional customer services for consumers who ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ certain sites, etc. the benefits of followers exposed to their brands and businesses are tremendous. The downside is that it is time-consuming to engage in the process of social media marketing. Another challenge is being able to quantify the effectiveness of using such a medium as most users do not know how to truly measure their success as online marketers. While companies are capitalizing on specific consumer bases in Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace the African-American consumer languishes as a relatively underserved segment of these marketing campaigns. This exploratory study seeks to look at the evolution of social media marketing as it directly relates to Black consumerism and purchasing power through the application of a uses and gratifications framework. This framework is expected to help communication researchers and educators develop a better understanding the powerful influence of social media on users. Limitations and suggestions for future research are provided.