Becoming a Social Networking Butterfly

Build your customer base with black social networking sites

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globalnetworkAbiola Abrams may not have the deep pockets of a large publishing conglomerate, but what she does have is a powerful business-building tool: a presence on social networking sites that target the black audience. Using online platforms such as BlackPlanet, this Harlem-based BET host and author of the novel Dare, has been able to drum up publicity and attention for her book and for herself without breaking the bank.

“When my book came out a year ago, there was no marketing budget for it,” recalls Abrams, who bills herself as a “smart, high-energy, big mouth” who likes to have fun. But getting the word out about a comedic retelling of a classic German fable is no easy task. Taking a page from comedian Dane Cook — who credits some of his success to his popular MySpace page — Abrams turned to social networking, a process by which communities of people with shared interests interact online.

After learning about BlackPlanet, and its popularity among African American users, Abrams created an online, celebrity-oriented talk show that would serve as a publicity vehicle for her novel. Less than two months later, Abrams had about 300,000 friends. That number has since increased to 500,000 — all “with no marketing budget whatsoever,” Abrams says.

Through the social networking site, Abrams also created a virtual book tour that resulted in 10,000 unit sales of Dare. “After those sales, the publisher took notice and developed a real, 5-city book tour for me,” says Abrams, who set up a dedicated social network page to market the virtual tour, which attracted 200,000 online subscribers. “Using the targeted social networking sites,” Abrams says. “I’ve been able to hone in on my audience and grow my business.”

Strength in numbers

In  the past few years, a slew of black-oriented social networking sites have cropped up, and today include,,,, and, just to name a few. According to Keith Bowen, chief revenue officer for New York-based Interactive One L.L.C., which owns BlackPlanet, about 42% of all blacks online are using social networking. “That number is expected to grow as more and more people dive into online social networking and experience its benefits,” Bowen says.

Small to midsized firms that lack the resources needed to market their products and services in more traditional ways often see the most gains from their social networking activities. By devoting just a few minutes a day to updating a blog, uploading a video clip (of a new product demonstration, for example) or responding to customer feedback, entrepreneurs can not only interact with potential customers, but also maintain ties with existing subscribers.

Setting the stage

To get there, users must first visit the site of interest, register, and then create a profile that others can access. Like any type of Web content, the profile should be updated regularly (at least daily, although weekly or monthly can also work,

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  • Shaun Bell

    I am interestd in finding more information about black social networks, and what would be a good network for promoting a casting call,afterparty, and a independent film Bloodline2.

    Proper EDiquet
    Chief of Operations
    Shaun Bell

  • I am interestd in social networks

  • This story is very interesting. I have found my niche because I am the Niche. As a plus size women, I face criticism everyday about my weight, at one time it was very hard for me to plus size clothing that was stylish enough to fit my 5’10 size 16/18 frame, I tried to be a plus size model, but was told that I was too large to model. I tried diet after diet and failed resulting in some serious low self esteem. So what did I do? I started my own social networking and empowering site for women like me. Women who are the average size 14 at 5’4. The real woman!! Club Cushions offers resources for plus size women in many avenues.
    #1 Empowerment

    #2 Raising self esteem,self worth, and self confidence

    #3 Health and wellness(although we are plus size this does not mean we have to be unhealthy, and we have two trainers and a nutritionist on the site)

    #4 Fashion, Style and entertainment

    #5 Retreats, Traveling, and Events

    #6 Community: It is very important to give back.
    Not only is Club Cushions about empowering plus size women we are also for raising awareness in the community with future non-profit ventures geared toward tweens, teens, and women.

    #7 Finance

    I started Club Cushions in January 2006 because I felt there was a need in the (BBW) big beautiful women community, and plus women community to have a positive space on the internet. If you google the term (BBW) big beautiful woman all links sent you toward porn site, and if you googled plus size women it wouldn’t send you much of anywhere unless you were an aspiring plus size model!

    I wanted to create a venue, positive community, an atmosphere for the average size woman out there who, just wanted to embrace her curves and live life to the fullest! Club Cushions is for the Confident and Curvy Woman!

    We are family on this site, so show everyone love and respect to one another!

    Club Cushions is not just for BBW’s and plus size women , it is also for anyone who support and love our movement! We appreciate the love we get from anyone who shows the love.

    Not only is Club Cushions about empowering plus size women we are also for raising awareness in the community with future non-profit ventures geared toward tweens, teens, and women.

    Club Cushions also stresses health and awareness. Yes we are proud to be confident and curvy, but health comes first. We have an online nutritionist and trainer who Blogs twice a month, and who is willing to answer any questions dealing with health and fitness!

    Tondalaya M
    Club Cushions LLC

  • This was a very interesting and enlightening article. Thank you for the informative research! I have a lot of work to do.

  • My name is Dr. Terri L. Jenkins. I am a recently retired disabled United Stated Army Sergeant and Freelance Writer. I have more than five years of experience in the Financial and Insurance industry, more than eight years of experience in the Fitness and Nutrition industry, more than ten years of experience in the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Industry, more than fifteen years of experience in the Supply and Services industry and more than twenty years of experience in the Health and Mental Hygiene industry.

    My writing services include professional blogs, forums, letters, articles, newsletters, journals, manuals and publications. Areas of expertise include but are not limited to Finance and Insurance, Fitness and Nutrition, Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Supply and Services and Health and Mental Hygiene. I would welcome the opportunity to earn your trust and deliver you the best service in the industry. Satisfaction Guaranteed!

  • keep up the good work

  • I would like to Thank Bridget McCrea for even writing our social networks name in this article. BlackPeopleOne will have it’s own open social api soon where applications can be added by the users. It makes us feel good knowing that Bridget and others have visited our website and even mentioned it in this article. Thank You very much as we appreciate that someone noticed us.

  • Great information…thanks..

  • Adding this to my bookmarks. Thank You

  • CJ Eaden

    Without a doubt social networking is new for a lot of us. However, because we are in the Obama Administration, CHANGE is here and we must accept and adapt to it. Technology does not stand still and neither should you.

  • Great information. Thanks!

  • Reverle Harris

    It’s great to know sites for African Americans are having Success! I’m a part of a very successful one too! Thanks for the information!

  • Reverle Harris

    It’s great to know network sites for African Americans are having success by working together with members! I’m a part of a very successful one too!

  • I am happy to join Black Enterprise, and thanks for inviting me.

  • I am a member of Black Business Builders Club member. This an organization to help black people
    earn extra cash. Please take a look at my website
    Jim Lewis

  • Very informative article. If you’re not using social networking to promote your business, you are leaving loads of money on the table. One of my marketing clients actually found me online and placed a rush order. It definitely pays to establish a presence in online social networking communities.

  • Great Information!I learned something today that I did ot know.

  • This is very timely information. Marketing today can be very challenging. This article helped clear my vision and allows me to chart a different course.
    Thank you
    Andre Whitaker

  • Thought provoking! Insightful and informative! 1/2 million friends! WOW!

  • check me out please

  • I am a member of the Black Business Builders Club and the main reason I joined was to learn how to market successfully over the Internet. There was no other place, that I knew, to get this knowledge without having to pay a high price for it. I have learned how to create websites with opt-in pages, blogs, video postcards and joined several Affiliate sites (http://gwenswealthformula is one of them)You can also check out my Black Business Builders website at:



  • Pingback: How To Be A Social Networking Butterfly | NewsOne()

  • Thanks BE for identifying these social-networking sites and what makes them tick. Google’s first marketing guru, a Mr. Seth Goodwin, would totally agree with your conclusions I think. His thing today is to service the “tribe” online, and that’s exactly what we are.

    Several years ago I participated in and personally witnessed the popularity of black networking online. It was not unusual (during the start-up of Black Voices, NetNoir) and the launch of GO AFRO on Compuserve/AOL which I co-directed, to experience people paying $12/hr and hundreds of dollars per month hanging out online with Black folks in forums. It was all good then, and with free to low cost access today, its good now.

    In fact, it started here: “The ..80s – The first Ph.D. in Computer Science was awarded to an African American during the late 1970s. Black computer geeks in colleges were creating Black Disaspora online. Word spills over into newsgroups. List servers are activated….” I reported on my blackSoftwaredotcom Black Cyberspace History page which covers 1980-1999; and Eventually AFRONET was born. AFRONET was the first Black owned indie operated city-to-city discussion networks, before NetNoir, AOL, BET, BlackPlanet and others joined the fray.

    Those were the days! Imagine that! $12/hr to chat online. These profitable online fee revenue streams for socializing with the tribe are gone, but it was a good ride while it lasted.

    I’m doing a hybird social-networking/311 site now at aboutblackbostondotcom and having a good time, but I will always remember how I became an online social networking butterfly, thanks to the AFRONET sysops..

    -William Murrell

  • Any kind of social networking is good and really dependent on your products. You don’t want to limit yourself to just one area unless your product is marketed is directly related.

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  • Just think about it. I’m making $$ while learning and sharing proven principles by pro’s,
    on how to create, maintain and monetize traffic to my brick and mortar business and online affiliate sites. The BBBC is my hope and means to buy back …my time and financial
    FREEDOM. The doors to the Club are open.

  • Very interesting to read it 😛 😀

  • I am looking for away to make my site more friendly to users and allow them to share bookmarks

  • Your article should have had more information on the original folks in the space — providing information to African and amfrican american consumers.

  • Bizworld

    Great information. Thanks!