Written by: LaMonica Madden, Associate Director, Inclusion Experience of VMLY&R
As the world of social media continues to evolve, one movement on TikTok is capturing the attention of Black women everywhere: #BlackGirlFollowTrain. What started as a trend to help Black women find content made for them has evolved into a movement, showing just how powerful and impactful the online community can be for Black women. The fast rise of this trend, and the polarizing internet response, is a great example of how social media can uncover insights and demonstrate how brands and marketers can tap into these opportunities to learn more about their consumer.
By the year 2045, it is reported that the United States population will be a multicultural majority. Therefore, it is time for brands and marketers to make DEI a business imperative beyond the performative “nice to have.” It is these brands and businesses that will not only survive, but thrive. In 2021, 30% of total dollars spent in the United States were from the multicultural population, 9% of which came from Black Americans, a figure that is expected to exponentially grow in the years to come. The #BlackGirlFollowTrain trend is a display of the power of inclusivity and influence Black women hold to shape culture and start a movement.
After struggling to find content catered to Black women on the internet, TikTok creator @mom2theking started the Black Girl Follow Train and vowed to follow every Black woman that interacted with her video. Quickly going viral, the trend has provided a platform for small content creators to gain visibility, gain new followers and reach new customers.
Since its creation, the main hashtag has garnered more than 360 million views and more than 250,000 videos have been created using the sound. The massive rise of this trend into a movement is a prime example of Black women unifying behind a common goal and impacting culture as we know it. Often, Black women or marginalized creators in general struggle to garner the same attention, reach, exposure and engagement rates as non-marginalized content creators. This is rumored to be due to certain biases that exist within TikTok’s algorithm; some creators on the app have even reported censorship of the #BlackGirlFollowTrain hashtag due to complaints from women of non-marginalized groups. Nonetheless, there is one powerful insight that this trend has shown us, and that is there is a need for representation and support for marginalized groups on these major social platforms.
Brands and marketers should pay attention to this trend, and others like it, to learn how to better foster communities and create messages that resonate with those communities. Here are five key takeaways that brands and marketers can learn from the success and the missed opportunity of the #BlackGirlFollowTrain trend:
- The importance of representation and inclusivity: The widescale success and noise this movement on TikTok has sparked highlights the importance of representation and inclusivity for marginalized communities. As spending in Black households will continue to grow, businesses and marketers should strive to create a diverse and inclusive environment and ensure that all voices are heard and represented.
- The value of safe spaces: The trend also highlights the importance of creating safe spaces for marginalized communities. Businesses and marketers should recognize the need for safe spaces where individuals can be themselves without fear of discrimination or marginalization.
- The importance of building community: The trend also shows the value of building community, as it helped to connect and support Black women on TikTok. Businesses and marketers should strive to build a sense of community among their customers and followers, as this can lead to increased loyalty and engagement.
- The negative impact of censorship: The rumored censorship of the hashtag #BlackGirlFollowTrain on TikTok highlights the negative impact that censorship can have on marginalized communities. Businesses and marketers should be aware of the potential negative consequences of censorship and take steps to ensure that all voices are heard and respected.
- The importance of allyship: The trend also highlights the importance of allyship, as it helped to connect and support Black women on TikTok. Businesses and marketers should strive to be allies and advocates for marginalized communities and take steps to actively support and uplift them.
The #BlackGirlFollowTrain trend on TikTok is an example of valuable insights for brands and marketers looking to connect with their audience and drive engagement. By embracing inclusivity, recognizing the influence of Black women, prioritizing authenticity, and building community, brands can create more meaningful and effective marketing campaigns.