The Virtual Black Community -- Connecting the Dots to Our Future

ImageThe Internet has come of age, and each year there are new "on-ramps" to the online super highway.  Recent studies indicate that Black Internet users are leading the way in adoption of mobile technology, as well as closing the digital divide with increased access at home and at work.  What this means is that our neighbors increasingly extend beyond those who live on the same block, or in the same city as we do.  More importantly, the Virtual Black Community has taken on characteristics that we should know about if we are to succeed in reaching and networking with our virtual neighbors as friends, professionals, business colleagues, and customers.

Below are Key Segments of the Virtual Black Community, as identified in a study conducted for Radio One a few years ago. It is important that Black entrepreneurs recognize these segments to connect the dots in reaching this growing online audience.

Connected Black Teens
They are tech savvy, highly social, brand driven and fans of Black music (Hip Hop and R&B). They have a plan for their future, they want to preserve Black cultural traditions, and they believe that too much focus is put on the oppression of Blacks.

Digital Networkers
Over half of this web-savvy, high tech, mobile segment are college or high school students who 'network' heavily using Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging and their cell phones. They are saving money - to buy a home or for retirement.

Black Onliners
Heavy web users, this mostly male segment is stressed by their work/life balance and the need to straddle Black and White worlds; they are focused on money as the most meaningful measure of success and are the most stressed of any segment about 'having to fit in'. They are the most frequent users of Black websites and the most frequent online shoppers.

New Middle Class
The best educated, most employed and wealthiest segment is mostly between the ages of 25 and 44 and is the most technologically forward segment. They are the most likely to describe themselves as Black rather than African- American and to believe that problems in the Black community can best be solved by Blacks. They are positive about the future and forward looking.

Boomer Blacks
This 'oldest' segment (average 52) is tech savvy with high ownership of computers, DVRs, home theater systems and wireless internet access - 90% are online. They are the most likely to believe that Black children should have Black role models and that it's important to take advantage of the opportunities won by previous generations.

These segments combined identify the Virtual Black Community. When we speak about Black buying power, or Black business development, or Black entrepreneurial success -- the actions taken by these segments collectively make a big difference in the outcomes that impact us all. Our goal at is to help connect the dots so that this virtual community is less fragmented, and each of us can become more effective in affecting positive economic outcomes.

Where do you fit, and how do these segments identify your target audience? What strategies will you use to enhance your online effectiveness in reaching these segments? These are all questions that must be answered to connect the dots with the Virtual Black Community. In the coming weeks, we will share strategies and advice from leading Black experts that will help improve the chances of success in reaching your goals.

We want to hear from you.  How are you connecting to the Virtual Black Community?

Share your comments below.

Roger Madison, CEO
iZania, LLC