media update’s Nakedi Phala takes you through the do’s and don'ts of engaging with the Black Twitter community.

There are two popular communities: American Black Twitter, where it all started, and South African Black Twitter. This makes them the most relevant and most popular Black Twitter communities on the platform. 

However, due to the community’s strong political nature and diverse audience, brands would do well to tread carefully and first learn how to play the game before just jumping in and pressing ‘start’.

Let's dive into it! Here’s how brands should, and should not, behave within the Black Twitter space: 

DO be authentic 

As a brand, it’s important to keep your authentic voice and style of communicating on social media in order to remain unique in the streets of Black Twitter. Some work has already been done for  you, as some participants within the community make up your target audience, meaning you already have one foot in the pond. 

Remember, Black Twitter is a community, and any attempts to overhaul your brand in order to fit in could put a dent in your identity. Rather stay true to who you are, much like the City of Joburg, which participates in the Black Twitter community by sharing important municipal messages — without compromising its brand.


Here are more examples of how other brands are communicating in the Black Twitter community:


So, when you do participate, do so with caution by engaging with audiences in conversations that are entertaining and solutions-driven. 

DON’T cross the line

You’re tweeting on behalf of your brand, so be careful not to turn into an opinion leader — Black Twitter streets are harsh! If your brand sells food, stick to topics that relate to food. If you’re a marketing agency, keep to trends and topics that relate to your industry — stay far away from topics that don’t add any value to your brand as some Black Twitter users will drag you down with them. 

DO listen, listen and listen again 

Before you dive into Black Twitter, it’s important to study how the community operates, as there’s no historic reference — so tread carefully.  

It is important to learn the ropes, where they lead and if they will direct your brand into a positive direction or not. You can do this by first taking a look at the lingo. Remember, this is a community largely dominated by individuals who speak different languages, some of which  have been colloquialised into what is known as tsotsitaal. 

In order to understand the humour and jargon, you need to understand at least a couple of South African languages. That is why it is important that the individual who runs your brand’s Twitter account is multilingual. 

Brands such as Nando’s have mastered how to use South African languages and tsotsitaal to align their brand with the community. This has led to the brand engaging successfully in the Black Twitter community. 

DON’T just use any old #tags and memes

Think carefully about the hashtags you want to use. Some that are used in the SA Black Twitter community are agenda driven, or politically-motivated, so it is important to investigate by clicking the trending #tag first to see what its purpose is. If it has political context to it, rather avoid using it as it might put your brand in an undesirable position or in the flare of political twars (Twitter war), which can harm your brand’s reputation. 

Also, avoid using memes that signify racial and religious offense. Remember, the purpose of memes is to enhance your brand’s message and entice readers to engage. When in doubt, rather not use it or ask for the opinion of your colleagues before making use of a particular meme that feels a bit dangerous. 

DO use Black Twitter memes and #tags


Black Twitter users are creative; they create their own memes, and most of them relate to any social, political or commercial situation in the country. As a brand trading in South Africa, it will be beneficial for you to use South African memes as it shows your followers that you’re current and relatable. 


#tags trend every day on Twitter, and most of them actually come from Black Twitter. Using #tags can help your brand increase your profile’s viewership and overall page visits. Use relevant ones  from the community every now and again to build followers and brand awareness. 

DON’T subtweet or retweet just anything

Before you even think of subtweeting a tweet from another brand or a Twitter user — stop. Click on their profile, check their posts and see who and how they engage with others first. 

All your followers can see who you’re subtweeting or retweeting, and if it’s something that is distasteful, your audience might think you believe or share the same sentiment. 

Black Twitter can make or break your brand, which is why you have to approach the streams with heed and participate in the community in a clever manner in order for your brand to successfully be recognised and welcomed by Black Twitter. 

Remember, not all brands can play in the Black Twitter space — it really depends on your brand’s objectives and whether they'll fit in with the community or not. 

Black Twitter has seen a number of South African brands play in the community, which has helped them  gain bigger audiences. What are your thoughts on brands building a presence in this community? 

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Now that you’ve gained some insight on how your brand can play in the Black Twitter community, discover How Black Twitter can work for your brand.