Over at his excellent Convince and Convert blog, Jay Baer shares a post on whether it seemed white folks are the majority in social media. This feeling is based on his experience at the recent South by Southwest festival, where he noticed that the majority of people in his session were white. From Jay’s post:

“As I looked around at these events, I noticed that the vast majority of attendees appeared to be 25-39 years old (I’m actually an old fart in social media circles), and the vast majority were White. The fact is, most social media pros can easily name the handful of people of color in the business. Excellent professionals like Wayne SuttonStanford SmithShashi BellamkondaShama Kabani, and Rohit Bhargava are the exceptions that prove the rule.”

(Update – Jay wasn’t referring to his sessions in his post. It should have said “events”, and not “his session”. My apologies.)

Jay’s post goes on to ask why there isn’t more diversity in social media, and that “we have to do more than rely on a bunch of 30 year old white people” for our social media information. Again, from Jay’s post with regards diversity:

“Consequently, I do believe companies need to consider proactively adding diversity to their social media teams, to ensure that first responder and content creation teams understand the perspectives of all customers and potential customers.”

The post is an interesting read, and opens up a great discussion in the comments.

To me, though, the post misses a key point (which, to be fair, Jay addresses afterwards in the comments): there are no statistics in Jay’s post to back up his view.

While Jay’s post is a great conversation starter, the lack of statistics mean it’s still restricted.

Numbers Make a Difference

While it might look like there’s a distinct lack of diversity from the folks that were at the SxSW events in question, that’s possibly more to do with South by Southwest (or any event) than colour. It’s up to organizers to make sure that diversity is key, and I’ve heard more than one story of how the SxSW panel picking is skewed towards friends over non-biased choice.

Ignoring the South by Southwest example for now, Jay mentions in a reply to Dan Perez (who asked about statistical proof) that he didn’t have any research at hand.

Fan Perez on Jay Baer blog

The thing is, there’s a ton of research and statistics available if you do the grunt work.

If you drop over to BlackWeb 2.0, for example, you’ll find an excellent resource that’s leading the way in highlighting blacks in technology and new media. When they shared their take on a 2009 Pew Report, they showed that seven out of ten African Americans used Twitter as opposed to six in ten white people.

Additionally, their social web category shares how black people and businesses are using social media.

Over at ColorLines, which offers analysis and solutions to racial justice issues, they extend on that report a little further, and show that 13% of black internet users are on Twitter; 18% of Latin American internet users are on Twitter; but only 5% of white internet users are.

Of course, social media is much more than just Twitter. Blogging, for example, is one of the lead platforms on the social web for sharing a view and making yourself heard, and there’s no shortage of quality black bloggers online.

Over at Squidoo, for instance, there’s a lens that shares 50 of the top African Amercian blogs for black men. These range from business blogs to fatherhood blogs, political blogs and more. It’s a great list and well worth checking out (a similar one for women would be great!).

At Blogged.com, there’s also a sub-category in the Society section that covers African American blogs, and these range from feminist blogs to pop culture, as well as the issues of dealing with infertility. Again, it’s another great resource and shows how black social media users are using the platform every day.

Not Just Black and White

Stepping away from just black and white social media use in the U.S., the Hispanic and Latino movement is anything but minority, too.

I mentioned Dan Perez earlier, who’s Hispanic, and the comment he left on Jay’s post. Lauren Fernandez, an awesome Cuban PR pro, raised a great point about Latino and Hispanic use of social media in her comment:

Lauren Fernandez blog comment

Both Lauren and Dan make a great point in their comments about it not always being easy to tell someone’s race or culture based on their appearance. It’s something we’re all guilty of, and leads to a lot of incorrect assumptions that can trip us up further down the road.

A report from January 2011 over at Fox News Latino shows how Latinos are using the social web for good, as well as highlighting that Hispanics are embracing technology faster than any other demographic, despite being in the minority.

Then you have the likes of Manoj Nigam, VO of IT at Vodafone, Manish Mehta, VP Global Online for Dell, and Viraj Patel, VP of IT at BigTree Entertainment, showing businesses how they can take their companies to Wall Street with social media.

If you want a really impressive number, then the fact that 39% of Chinese sales consultants use social media to engage their customers compared to only 3% of U.S. sales consultants is pretty telling. At Asian Nation, you can find all sorts of reports, statistics, communities and more dedicated to Asian America today.

It’s Not the People

These are just some resources and stats that I found while researching around the topic of Jay’s post. While Jay’s right in that it always seems to be the same people at the same events, that skews things a bit because these people just happen to be (primarily) white.

They’re also the folks that Jay would cite as leaders in social media. Other people (myself included) would probably cite very different people and names – because that’s a natural thing to do. We always think of those we connect with most when asked about something, as opposed to taking the better route and thinking of those that are also doing really great things, but without the fanfare that Jay’s Mafia would probably get.

That doesn’t mean that white folks are dominating social media, nor does it mean there’s a lack of cultural diversity in social media.

It just means the industry needs to do a better job at recognizing people that aren’t part of the “inner circle”, if you like, and stop using “names” just to sell seats.

If you really want diversity, you first have to highlight it – the rest will fall into place naturally. So, how about it, event organizers and blog thought leaders – a bit more elbow work to let these new voices heard would be a good start, no?

And how about you? Who’s doing great things online and isn’t white? Let’s start the highlighting now – sound good?

image: Rose Cioccolato

Sign up for free weekly content

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a weekly email with the latest blog post, recommended reading, quick tips and more. I respect your privacy and will never spam you.

(Be sure to check your Inbox to confirm subscription - thanks!)

Enjoy this post? Share your thoughts below:

114 Comments on "Social Media – It’s Not Just for White Folks"

Social Media Diversity |
6 months 19 days ago

[…] Brown, co-founder of Bonsai Interactive Marketing, wrote “Social Media – It’s Not Just for White Folks”, adds that the weight of data and statistics to argue that social media is diverse. In the […]

9 months 16 days ago

Ha! three years late to the conversations but what do you expect? 😉
I have Africa on the Blog, syndicated by the Guardian, with Ida Horner. She does 99% of the work, I put up the cash, we started this as we’d found so few resources for black people. And it gets incredible traffic.

Ola Agbaimoni recently put together this post http://www.eelanmedia.com/top-100-most-influential-black-people-on-digitalsocial-media/ and had a helluva time researching it and pulling it all together as so few people were able to recommend people to go onto the list. She’s going to do one every year now. Let’s hope more people do this style of list.

2 years 23 days ago

karimacatherine thebrandbuilder You know, I may have to revisit that and update with how far we’ve come since then. Or not. 😉

2 years 23 days ago

DannyBrown : Was actually gonna do that as well. ” The reality or lure of diversity in Social media” thebrandbuilder

2 years 23 days ago

karimacatherine thebrandbuilder Look forward to it if you do, and clearly still a topic that hasn’t any defined answers, it would seem.

2 years 23 days ago

karimacatherine thebrandbuilder Alrighty :)

2 years 23 days ago

DannyBrown thebrandbuilder : Yup. Let’s DM

2 years 23 days ago

karimacatherine thebrandbuilder For sure, miss – next week?

2 years 23 days ago

DannyBrown thebrandbuilder would love to have your input! Skype soon?

Olivier Blanchard
3 years 9 months ago

Maybe diversity has nothing to do with it. Maybe the answer is far simpler than that.

From where I stand, it says something about 30-40 year old white dudes that so many of them feel compelled to spend all day talking about social media and how to get better at social media, and how to make more money with social media and how to get more followers on social media and how to be more time-efficient on social media and how to measure their influence on social media and how to get jobs through social media and how to become speakers and experts and gurus and f***ing ninjas on social media, and everyone else doesn’t.

Maybe the fact that no one else does this is because most other people out there in the real world are more concerned with solving real problems than becoming the next Seth Godin?

And because these folks are out there doing real work instead of pontificating about Google + or investing in one another on Empire Avenue, they neither have time nor feel the need to create idealized versions of themselves on the interwebs (you know, a version in which they are brilliant and cool and successful instead of being your garden variety slob.)

I could be wrong, but from where I stand, there is no diversity problem in social media. I see every religion, nationality, ethnicity, culture and community represented in the social web. You know why? Because I, like you, see beyond the glow of our own little imaginary twitternet stars. The guys I learn from are in Asia. In Africa. In Europe. In the Middle East. In Latin America. They aren’t just SxSW and Blogworld speakers. They aren’t experts or gurus either.

The only real problem touching on diversity I see in the “social media space” is this: About four dozen assholes in the US and Canada making up an imaginary social media “industry,” who suddenly realized a week ago that with all the navel-gazing and ego projection fueling their “thought leadership,” they have mostly managed to cater to people who conveniently look and sound just like them. Wow. How did THAT happen?

By the by, if they ever manage to pull their heads out of their asses long enough to get some oxygen back into their brains, they will either meet or remember having met – among hundreds of thousands of other social media users who are not pre-midlife crisis white dudes – Rohit Bhargava, Maz Nadjm, Jeremiah Owyang, Gabrielle Laine Peters, Karima Catherine Goudiam, Bonin Bough, Liva Judic, Monika Melsha, Guy Kawasaki, Chris Penn, Danielle Lewis, Peter Kim, Charlene Li, CD, Hajj Flemings, and many, many, MANY more, who last time I checked, contributed more to the social media world than all of their “white” social media guru blog post combined, and managed to do so while being other than strictly caucasian.

What’s the next big topic for the “we’ve run out of things to talk about social media guru” crowd: Why aren’t there more foreigners involved in social media?

Someone really needs to pinpoint the exact moment when “social media expert” became synonymous with “dumbass” so we can add that to Wikipedia.

Tito Philips, Jnr.
4 years 25 days ago

I am not just black, I am from Nigeria, if you know what that means online, then I would say it’s not just about diversity, sometimes, it is also about nationality.

Somehow, i think it’s just a way of life if you ask me, I think whites naturally like to try out new things first while others just sit and watch. In the end, they get there way ahead of everyone.

Another key point was mentioned by JK, blacks are somewhat competitive. Until now, I used to think that was only peculiar to Nigerians, but reading what he wrote made me think about it all over again, there’s truth in that.

While all of these differences do exist in the blogosphere, i still think in all sincerity, bloggers no matter the color are the most collaborative and helpful people in the world. There is something about blogging, that naturally transcend the spirit of competition. I can’t say whether it’s because of the interdependent criteria placed on us by Google or because of the social nature of blogging itself, somehow we are just naturally more open to one another than most people living.

So as for me, don’t think the diversity can withstand the power of synergy on which blogging has been thriving on for these long.

Thank you Dan for sharing this, it was really bold of you!

4 years 23 days ago

Hey there Tito,

Couldn’t agree more on the blogger angle, mate – I’ve been (and continue to be) amazed at the friendships and genuine people I’ve met in the blogosphere.

Do you think it’s more a question of black competitiveness holding people back, or not as many opportunities to be in “at the start”, or a mix of both, or something completely different?

But yeah, here’s to synergy and combined energies every day. :)

Eric Davis
4 years 28 days ago

The Whole concept of RACE is very ignorant and really doesn’t exist. RACE is a concept that was created by the falsely alleged founding fathers of western civilization. It has been intentionally perpetuated by their descendants (along with U.S. government, the mainstream media, and the public school system). In simple terms, there is NO such thing as a White/Caucasion person nor a Black/Negro/African American person. These are such stupid terms based on a group of people trying to define themselves and/or define others based on irrelevant, small physical differences in appearance (like hair or skin color).

Who you are as a person is based upon your character. Character is your actions and results of you actions- this is what defines YOU.


Mitch Mitchell
4 years 29 days ago

Man, I can’t believe how long it took me to get over here and get into this conversation; I must be slipping! lol

I wrote my opinion on this overall topic in January. It was prompted by a visit to Problogger to view an article that someone wanted me to see. One of the guest writers wrote a post highlighting 40 people she’d met at a conference that she felt others should follow. None of them was a person of color. Someone else mentioned it and that person got lambasted. I decided to say something and I took my shots as well. One woman even wrote that it was racist of me to expect that this woman should have included a person of color on her list; that was interesting to say the least.

I can’t talk about all minorities, so I’ll only talk about black people. I think JK stated it clearly enough when he mentioned that there aren’t a lot of people who look like “us” that are considered as top bloggers in the blogosphere. I wrote a post trying to highlight some highly ranked black bloggers and I could only find 8 individual bloggers whose Alexa rankings were under 200,000, not including my own blog; that was astounding. If you look at a site called Gurudaq, which supposedly tracks internet marketing gurus, there’s only one black person on the list. If you look at the second list they have, which tracks motivational people, there’s only one black person on the list.

Are there black people in social media? Obviously. Are there enough that are known or highlighted anywhere? Not even close. Time Magazine puts out its list of top 100 every year; never any black people on the list. Some other top bloggers put out top blogger lists; almost never any black people on the list. People tend to highlight and talk about who they know; they don’t know us. For that matter “we” don’t know us, which is why I was glad to see the list of 31 that Marlee put together. And that’s why one of these years I’m going to have to find myself a way to get to one of the BWB conferences.

This was a great topic, Danny, and look at all the responses you got. In an odd way, this is indicative of what I’m kind of talking about. I write about diversity and race on my blog all the time and get few responses most of the time; you write about it and look at the high number. Jay wrote about it and look at the high number. Quite an interesting dichotomy, one might say.

But we ain’t mad; we be comin’! 😉

4 years 28 days ago

Hey there Mitch,

It does seem like a vicious circle, mate. The bloggers and leaders are there; but because the recognition isn’t (or doesn’t seem to be), then that skews where the conversations are taking place.

And then the circle continues, because the audience is (still?) in the “wrong” place.

Go figure.

Thing is, as some commenters here have mentioned, is it down to the audience to promote more; the blogger; a bit of both; or something different altogether?

Food for thought, for sure.

Mitch Mitchell
4 years 28 days ago

No one wants the equivalent of a handout, Danny. We do want our little bit of recognition if we do well, though. I look at someone like Lisa Irby, PR4, Alexa rank around 5,000, a higher rank than Chris Brogan and equal to Seth Godin, and wonder why her name doesn’t come up as one of the top individual bloggers on the planet, and I mean ever. You don’t get to rank that high without people knowing who you are, so what’s the reason? When you remove everything else, sometimes the most obvious yet distasteful thing left is the truth.

I’m just sayin’…

4 years 28 days ago

Good point re. the traffic; though perhaps people are putting less authority on Page Rank and Alexa now, and looking more for social proof from the likes of RSS Subscribers and Twitter followers, as opposed to what the “mainstream web” thinks?

Dunno, mate, but then that’s why I never take much scope in numbers, and look at the content instead. At which Lisa more than definitely rocks it. :)

Mitch Mitchell
4 years 28 days ago

The point isn’t PR or Alexa; that point is what makes Lisa, or many other people, less of an authority in the eyes of those putting together lists and conference speakers than these other people?

4 years 28 days ago

Unfortunately I don’t have the answer for that, Mitch, you’d have to ask the folks that put the events together.

I like BlogWorld’s approach, where they ask their community who they’d like to see, as opposed to leaving it to the Old Boys Club that so many other events seem to work from.

But often, organizers (or the PR team that puts events together initially by sourcing presenters) often ook at blog authority, or site authority, and less is being put on PR and Alexa and more on subscribers and social connections.

4 years 27 days ago

Danny, I love what Mitch is saying here. Let’s pretend Lisa Irby was speaking at SXSW – I’d sign up without hesitation.

Margie Clayman (@margeclayman)
4 years 29 days ago

I’d also like to toss into the fracas the fact that none of the leading professionals in Social Media are Little People.

Just sayin…:)

4 years 28 days ago

Which reminds me – I need to read your blog post on this very topic! :)

Lisa Irby
4 years 30 days ago

I have been earning a full time living online (affiliate marketer) since 2006 and making money since 1998 — One thing I’ve noticed is that the amount of minorities represented at these events is always pretty scarce… yet I meet a lot of minorities through social media.

Also, because I am black more blacks tend to reach out to me on social media because of the familiarity issue. So I think blacks are definitely online (I have a site on black hair care and we are definitely out here.)

As Ileane said, maybe minorities aren’t attending these conferences, but they are definitely using social media in large numbers. I think it depends on where you look and I definitely agree with some of the points JK mentioned above, unfortunately.

Great post!!

4 years 30 days ago

Hi Lisa,

It never fails to amaze (and disappoint) when I see a new conference announced, and you see the same names with the same topics and the same presentations they were doing 6-12 months ago.

And then we have posts and conversations like this, and wonder when it’s going to improve…

Here’s to organizers looking in better places than the same 30 names that always seem to be the de facto… 😉

Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
4 years 30 days ago

This is an awesomely charged topic to bring up Danny!

What I thought about while I was reading it was the fact that no white person has ever told I couldn’t do something to provide value online.

Nor have they ever told me I couldn’t pay them money to attend an event.

Nor have they told me I couldn’t buy their product that would give me the blueprint to their success.

As a matter of fact, I believe the online savvy 25-39 aged crowd is more tolerant than any other in the history of time.

These kids know nothing of segregation (in America at least). Yeah, there’s racists but if you stand up and beat your chest about it today, and you have any kind of influence, you’re public enemy #1 REAL FAST.

I can’t speak for all races but my lack of getting computer savvy had nothing to do with the color of my skin or my mom being a drug addict on welfare. It had everything with me not giving a shit about being computer/web savvy. At least not until I got older and saw how I could use this skill to provide an income for myself.

Even though my mom was broke, our schools still had access to computers and I had access to people who could show me how to use them. Hell, at 14 I even had access to a job washing dishes in a Chinese restaurant that gave me more than enough money to buy a computer for myself… if I would’ve wanted to.

But no, I chose to spend all my money on weed, booze, clothes and CD’s.

Once again, can’t speak for all cultures, but in the one I grew up in, “computers was stuff that nerdy white people liked”.

Had nothing to do with them having money to buy computers. Shit, we lived in a little dungeon but we damn sure had the premium cable package with HBO, SHOWTIME and THE MOVIE CHANNEL. And that trend in lower income cultures hasn’t ended. It only changed to the person having a satellite attached to their trailer.

But as more people, like myself, become aware of all the possibilities the internet and computers open up for you, the more you’ll see guru’s of all cultures emerge.

And we’re already seeing this due to explosion of smart phones which, in my mind are mini-computers you can fit in your breast pocket.

4 years 30 days ago

Hey there Lewis,

You know, you might just be onto something here. Obviously economics can play a large part in how people get online, and what the experience is like, and your comment about lower income cultures makes me think of the high-speed broadband access issue in the U.S.

I’ve seen a ton of reports that show certain areas still not on broadband (or at least, not “proper” broadband), because of locality and income levels.

And I wonder if broadband was standard and more affordable, if more lower income areas would see the web as something that’s needed as opposed to a nerdy luxury?

Not sure – but you have me thinking. Cheers, Lewis, and kudos for making things work for you when you could have easily let slide when you had other things to keep you busy. 😉

Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
4 years 29 days ago

Thinking that if kick ass internet was more affordable, that the majority of lower income demographics would see the web as anything more than a source of escape (music, video watching, chatting on Facebook, watching stroke sites, playing video games) is a warm fuzzy thought, but I’d bet money it wouldn’t make much of a difference Danny.

Here’s some commonly quoted stats for you…

Most Americans (95%), after high school never read another book in their entire life. (And you can bet your ass the 5% of the people reading the books,“Need” to read them the least as they’re already well off and are just sharpening the saw).

Only 1% of the American population buys books and reads them.

Only 3% of the American population own library cards. And how much do they cost? ZIP. ZERO. NADA. Poor old Andrew Carnegie spent his millions building libraries nobody goes to.

Two-thirds (66%) of US public libraries offer free wireless access, up about 12% over last year.

Almost two-thirds of all public libraries provide 1.5Mbps or faster Internet access speeds, with a continuing disparity between urban (90%) and rural libraries (51.5%).

And what’s interesting is how the Pareto’s principle (the 80/20 rule) would come into effect. Even if libraries had enough computers to service every single “disadvantaged” person, 15% of people might educate themselves and get the good feelings that come from that but only approximately 5% of people would take full advantage and put what they learned into action. Again I’d bet money on that.

Self leadership, which is the most important kind of leadership, isn’t about resources. It’s about being resourceful. Resourceful leaders use everything they’ve got and when it comes to succeeding online, there’s resources galore.

If there’s one common success trait that’s common in people of any race or religion, who defy the odds and pull themselves up by their boot straps, that would be resourcefulness. HANDS DOWN.

To get an online business off the ground, there’s an OVERWHELMING amount of free information that will guide you by the hand. Actually there’s too much. Information overload is a problem us info marketers have the luxury to bitch about.

And that’s not even counting the cool guys like you who personally answer questions for people who need guidance.

It’ll be interesting to see how everything unfolds. :)

4 years 29 days ago

Hey there Lewis,

You know, I think you’d get on like a house on fire with my business partner Troy. One of his favourite mantras is:

“It’s not a lack of resources; it’s a lack of resourcefulness.”

So very true. Thanks for the stats – it’s clear there are a ton of conversations still waiting to happen on a great many topics. Thanks for being a valuable part of this one. :)

4 years 30 days ago

Hi Danny,
Great topic and here’s my two cents. It’s possible that many blacks (myself included) just aren’t interested in investing money to attend SXSW.
I’m glad you mentioned Black Web 2.0 because that’s one of the first multi-author blogs that comes to mind when I think of blacks in social media but there are others out there I’m sure.
Take a look at Kristie Hines’s list of 125 Fearless Female Bloggers and you’ll find plenty of women of color on the list (thanks Kristie).

My point is – we’re here. You just have to know where to look and SXSW is not the place.

4 years 30 days ago

Hey there Ileane,

You know, you might have a point there. It seems that a few others have wondered if SxSW is even something that people outside the traditional attendees (geeks and tech fans) are interested in now.

It’s one of the things that I think has seen SxSW lose some of its appeal – I recall going years ago when it was all about the music and movies. Then the Interactive part got added, and it seemed to lose some of its magic.

Perhaps the lack of “diversity” is just reflecting a general meh about SxSW overall?

4 years 30 days ago

Hey Danny,

Great formulation on the issue here. I think there are many, many factors why diversity may be lacking in the social media sphere both off and online, but I don’t have any data to back it up, so I won’t get myself into trouble stating them. That said, I agree with part of what Ileane has stated and that is as it relates to Blacks specifically, I don’t think SxSW is a huge draw for them. In that same vein, I don’t think blacks are particularly race sensitive as it relates to social media.

I wrote a post about this in February in honor of Black History month, and in it you will find their thoughts on being black and in social media from their own mouths. I think they say it best.

“What does it mean to be a Black blogger?” As told by 31 Influential Voices of Color Around The Web


By the way, the best part about most of the reply comments is that most of these black bloggers didn’t know about EACH OTHER! So maybe the lack of connection to other bloggers or social media events isn’t race related at all!

Thanks for this D!

4 years 30 days ago

Hey there Marlee,

Thanks for the link, appreciate the resource and will be checking it out soon. :)

I wonder if part of it come down to Jk’s point about the competitive angle too? Everyone’s trying to outdo one another so that negates any steps forward that could happen at having a wider cast net at these events?

Course, that’s pretty much true of certain circles and people within social media as well… 😉

Lisa Mabry
4 years 30 days ago

Danny and Jay,
Kudos to both of you for seeing the value in writing on this subject as white men. As a once digital media executive at a major media company and business woman in Social Media, as well as an African-American female, I am often among very few other blacks at events and conferences, similar to Dhalia Valentine.

While blacks are major consumers of digital media, social media, and early adopters to tech gadgets, I do believe there is a lack of representation of blacks in Social Media positions and departments throughout high tech and other companies. Via conversations I have had with white colleagues on this very subject, it could partly be due to the high tech industry itself. In all of its innovation and progressive thinking, companies within just aren’t paying attention to the diversity of the workforce they employ. For the most part, most social media tools, applications and websites are not targeting a specific ethnic group, just people. So, it’s not even on their radar to consider how different ethnic groups engage with their products/services, hence they don’t consider what a diverse team would lend to their success.

There may be some underlying cultural reasons why more African-Americans are not seeking out careers in social media. And for all who are, we must attend more events, network often and be seen. More definitely needs to be done to expose careers in software development, social media and digital management to children in the inner-city. Like anything else, blacks have to get in, be great, sit down at the table and be instrumental in inviting our brother and sisters to join us.

4 years 30 days ago

Hey there Lisa,

Yet another great comment! I’m being blown away by the awesome conversation taking place both here and over at Jay’s blog and it just reinforces how much we’re missing out on because of insular thinking when it comes to encouraging more diversity in social media.

I watched a great mobile presentation last year, that showed 48% of black consumers prefer mobile browsing over web browsing. So if you’re not thinking mobile when it comes to your advertising, and you’re looking to attract black consumers, then you’re missing out on a HUGE chunk of your audience.

Like you say, this means ethnic groups (of whatever creed) can (and are) missed. And then we wonder why there’s less diversity…

Do you feel events and conferences aren’t doing a great job of reaching out to a wider audience, or do you think the audience just isn’t interested in certain events to start with?

Thanks again for an awesome comment, Lisa, really appreciated. :)

Lisa Mabry
4 years 30 days ago

Hey Danny, thanks for the great reply! In my opinion, since stats are pointing to the higher rate of consumption of online content by African-Americans, it would be beneficial for conferences and events to include sessions or round-tables dedicated to discussing this segment of users and their significance. The panels could include high profile African-American bloggers and social media leaders who in turn could use their influence to draw in more blacks and people of color.

At the very least, events could certainly diversify the panels in general to represent several ethnic groups, who would hopefully draw in a diverse attendance.

Another side thought…I’m not sure if the majority of attendees to these events and conferences are paid personally or by the company. Of course, if companies are largely footing the bill, with fewer people of color working there, means less color in the crowd. You get where I’m going here. Not sure, but just something that came to mind.

4 years 29 days ago

Great point about the paid and sponsored aspect, Lisa. From my understanding, unless the presentation is a keynote one, you pick up the tab yourself (or your company does).

So, yeah, if there are less ethnic groups in certain industries…

Love your idea of high-profile African-American bloggers leading sessions at events. As you say, if someone relevant (and who you respect) is speaking, you’re more likely to check the event out. And hopefully others will too, away from your ‘demographic”.

Thanks, Lisa, appreciate the thoughts. :)

4 years 30 days ago

I had never really given much thought to diversity online versus in real life. It seems that the internet has been an integral part in leveling the playing field. Reading this, you have no idea if I’m white, black, latino, asian, etc. Thank you internet.

4 years 30 days ago

You mean you’re not green, Craig? 😉

Jk Allen
4 years 30 days ago

Hello Danny,

I’ve thought long and hard about the diversity online. I think it’s there, but I don’t see any big time bloggers that look like me. And, to be honest – I’ll go ahead and assume the position! Seriously, there are a handful – but what’s more interesting to me is the support that black bloggers tend NOT to show to each other.

In february, I was featured in a write up that chronicled what it means to be a black blogger (this was for Black History Month). Many of the bloggers I had never seen on in the blogosphere so I reached out to each one of them, via email or by way of their website contact form and not one of them got back to me. Not one. And out of the list of 20 something people only one or two followed me back on twitter. What’s up with that?

Crazy huh? Well, this is actually a thing of our culture. Ultra competitive, and not nearly as supportive as we should be.

My take – I honestly don’t cater to a specific cultural audience. But because of this, I think it may give the impression that I’m not “for the people”. SORRRRRY, I have a bigger mission – I’m for all the people!

You know Danny – I just continue doing my thing! I connect with people who want to connect. I don’t care what they look like and what their background is.

Thank you for the enriching, though provoking read. I haven’t shared my views on this topic publicly until now. I know I kind of took the topic at hand in a different direction – I guess a little frustration came out!!!!!!

One last note – it’s a great feeling being mentioned by Mark and John, and you also giving me some love. Thank you sir!

4 years 30 days ago

Hey there Jk,

What an awesome comment, sir, thank you! I think this sums it up perfectly:

“You know Danny – I just continue doing my thing! I connect with people who want to connect. I don’t care what they look like and what their background is.”

Amen to that, mate, and here’s to more (if not all) folks living to that agenda.

That’s kinda sad about the lack of response when you reached out to your fellow bloggers – if we can’t support one another, who can we support?

Though I’ve heard similar “horror stories” from folks that have reached out to many of the so-called A-listers in social media, only to be blanked or chastised. Guess A-list doesn’t extend to being hospitable… 😉

Thanks again, mate, and looking forward to getting to know more about you and your blog. :)

PS – I’d been seeing your name pop up regularly over at their blogs, and liking what I read. Any friend of theirs… :)

Erica Allison
4 years 1 month ago

Danny, great post here, especially since you took a ‘sensitive’ topic already discussed on Jay’s blog and expanded upon it here. Very nicely done and with a healthy dose of discourse thrown in. In addition to the racial part of the diversity equation, you hit on the ‘inner circle’ or usual suspects aspect as well. That’s the one that can really rub me the wrong way. Like you, if the conference speaker’s list doesn’t introduce me to new people or a new concept, I’m not as inclined to go. Diversity of one’s matter of work and opinion are critical to the ultimate success of this social media world that we live in. Without it, we’re just recycling the same old same old. Thanks again!

4 years 30 days ago

That seems to be a point that’s coming up a lot, Erica – perhaps SxSW is seen as an event that a certain crowd attend, so why would I go when I’m not that crowd?

It’ll be interesting to see how the New York-based BlogWorld Expo goes down, since this year they’ve actively encouraged their community to suggest speakers, which seems to be leading to a great mix.

Could be a good lead for others to follow, and hopefully offer the kind of diversity (not just race or gender-based) that we seem to be craving.

Cheers, miss!

Dahlia Valentine
4 years 1 month ago

Hi Danny…

Over the almost 20 years that I’ve been attending Internet-related conferences and workshops and most recently Meetup groups, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been the only black woman/black person in the crowd. Countless.

My saving grace is that I’ve always been a self-employed, and I have a serious love affair with the almighty dollar. I go where the movers and shakers are (white, black, purple), and I don’t let my being the ‘only one there’ intimidate me.

From where I’m sitting though, I think it’s a matter of African Americans being willing to put themselves out there A LOT more on a professional level. We have to realize that it takes more than a college degree, a pretty little resume and 8 hours on the clock to be successful.

Social media (I’m more into affiliate marketing/ebook marketing) is competitive. If you want to be somebody then you have to ‘be somebody.’

Yes, there are inner circles in this industry. And yes, they tend to be skewed to the all male, all white demographic.

That doesn’t mean we (black people) can’t get out there and create magic on our own terms. I don’t have to be in a certain inner circle to make a lot of money or to be influential in this business.

When you’re great at what you do, and you’re proactive about being active in your little corner of the room, ALL people notice you. There’s no way you can be strong with your words and ideas and be ignored.

My strength is that I don’t sit around and wait for my number to be called. Regardless of who you are, you just have to get out there and be spectacular.

4 years 30 days ago

“When you’re great at what you do, and you’re proactive about being active in your little corner of the room, ALL people notice you. There’s no way you can be strong with your words and ideas and be ignored.”

Love this statement right here (though love you whole comment, full stop!). :)

You’re so right – race, creed, colour, sex, gender, orientation, etc, shouldn’t be a factor. I’d like to think it isn’t, but often it can boil down to that because of a personal point of view.

Thing is, if brilliance keeps knocking on the door of those who have a limited view, hopefully it’ll make conversations like this history.

Thanks for a great viewpoint, Dahlia. :)

Erica Allison
4 years 1 month ago

Dahlia, I love your spunk and your drive! “Regardless of who you are, you just have to get out there and be spectacular”! Best advice for anyone out there. There exists an inner circle in whatever industry or field we work in. I worked in real estate development for years and was very often the only female around on a job site and most always got treated differently and my opinion or authority dismissed – until – they heard me talk and realized that between the ears and behind the smile was a whole lot of smarts. Once I gained their respect, I was in the circle. It’s how you work your way in there that makes the difference.

Dahlia Valentine
4 years 1 month ago

Thank you Erica!

That philosophy has kept a roof over my head and food in my stomach for many years.

Heidi Massey
4 years 1 month ago

But it is so pervasive, this picking of the good old boys, the insiders. TEDx events, the offshoots of the larger TED events, are happening all over Chicago and the suburbs…the latest one to be promoted is at the University of Chicago. That is in Hyde Park, where President Obama’s house is. One of the most diverse and integrated communities in Chicago. And their TEDx speakers list so far is 10 white guys and 2 white women. I gotta believe, since they are flying people in from all over the world, that they could do better.

At 11NTC, the conference on tech and nonprofits, I attended 2 sessions on diversity. One was primarily about access and physical disabilities. They had 2 amazing speakers, both disabled but doing amazing work in tech. FASCINATING and so informative. The other session, led by these punks I know, Allyson Kaplan and Shireen Mitchell, was about the tech/blogging world and focused primarily on race and gender and was also fascinating. Interestingly, the conference itself was shockingly, overwhelmingly bland in terms of many measures of diversity. Both sessions talked about the need to engage with different communities, to expand the eligible pool for the work place, speakers at conventions, etc. They talked about the role of pioneers willing to “blaze a trail.” So the question is, how can we push for more pioneers, more of us willing to set up environments where diversity is the norm, where people can’t imagine NOT existing in a diverse community? Never dawned on me when I bought a house, that I should live in that kind of community. No one ever taught me that idea…we need to be promoting that idea loudly and pervasively…the value of diversity. So that people like me, who aren’t exposed to these progressive ideas, learn and understand the value of doing things this way. That’s why this conversation is so important. And that is why people here should promote the ideas here on their facebook pages, on twitter, on their blogs…to wake people up to the need to do things differently.

Thanks for create a forum for a lively discussion Danny…not happening often enough so I welcome the opportunity!

Heidi Massey
4 years 1 month ago

YES! The fact that the event happens year after year and no one really fights to change it…that SXSW doesn’t market beyond places where you find the usual suspects…how many folks with physical disabilities are at sxsw? It isn’t just about skin color…it is about diversity…the world is more than white men!

So I just tripped across this great blog post about diversity in Indianapolis. Hoping I can post a link without being banned for spam…but it is worth the read:


4 years 1 month ago

Hey there Heidi,

I recall reading about an event a few years back (the name slips my mind, sorry!) where there was one disabled toilet for 2,500 people. And one of the speakers was a paraplegic talking about equality and looking past the physical to the experience.

Kinda reminds me of the whole event industry at times. Yes, there are some great ones, but then there are ones that are quite clearly biased towards friends over great speakers.

That’s what we need to change more than anything. Pretty sure that would begin to negate the whole race/sex/diversity issue. Though I could be wrong… 😉

4 years 1 month ago

I think diversity is an important part of social media. Different people bringing different perspectives is what challenges our minds.

That diversity trumps race, in my opinion.

I think the key is breaking up that “inner circle” as mentioned at SxSW to ensure that the same folks are saying the same things year after year. I’ve never been but have heard that complaint many times.

Additionally, there are so many conferences that people attend (Blogging While Brown comes to mind). Some black social media peeps/bloggers may prefer that setting. Who knows.

Lastly, when thinking about creating my own site, many black people asked me whether it was going to be a “black” website focusing on highlighting black business experts and entrepreneurs. Not that that doesn’t have value (Black Enterprise is great) but that’s not my focus. One big focus was to bring a diverse (race, industry, experiences) collection of people to inspire.

This is the route that we all can benefit from the most.

Thanks to Jay and Danny for talking about this.

4 years 1 month ago

Hey there Torrey,

Completely agree, mate – there’s much more to diversity than just race and gender (as important as these are). Nix the cliques, get a much wider involvement and the rest will (hopefully) take care of itself.

We can but hope, mate. Cheers for sharing your thoughts, and look forward to checking your blog out.

Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion
4 years 1 month ago

Danny, aside from race, I thought this incredibly stellar article had one more major sub plot— that of the inner circle and the lack of ‘unique voices’ at these marketing events like SXSW.

I thought your point here was very, very telling:

They’re also the folks that Jay would cite as leaders in social media. Other people (myself included) would probably cite very different people and names – because that’s a natural thing to do. We always think of those we connect with most when asked about something, as opposed to taking the better route and thinking of those that are also doing really great things, but without the fanfare that Jay’s Mafia would probably get.

It would be nice if organizers of these events could find a way to reach out to other ‘circles’….but notwithstanding, I’m sure it’s tough.

Again, loved this post Danny. Gutsy.


4 years 1 month ago

Hey there Marcus,

It’s a big reason that I’ve stayed away from many industry events. I look at the speaker schedule and, while they’re great speakers, there’s nothing really new happening. So why would I pay hundreds of dollars to attend when I can watch the same presentation on your YouTube channel?

It’s something that BlogWorld is looking to change this year, and they’ve actively sought the views of their community. Looks like it’s working too, going by the mix of folks that have been confirmed for the New York event.

But yes, that’s just one start – now we need more to follow.

Cheers, sir. :)

Dan Rodriguez
4 years 1 month ago

Danny: Gracias por su sentimentos y por este convo! Sus palabras son timely and encouraging por este nuevo generacion de SM users. I am intrigued by the conversation y tambien con sus comentarios!
Dan, Spanglihser

4 years 1 month ago

Gracias, Dan – alegra que haya disfrutado de la conversación y la esperanza sigue alentando a las voces más nuevo ser reconocido

(And my apologies if that makes little sense!) :)

But thank you – here’s to more continued conversations and improved recognition for all. :)

Bryan P. Hollis
4 years 1 month ago

Hi Danny,
I came by your blog for the first time via a post submitted by a (must be) loyal follower, Ingrid at Blog Interact. This week has been filled with irony for me regarding my own posts. So many post comments I have made this week have seemingly been either a mirror image (give or take) of a post I whipped-up, or interrelated somehow. Anyhow, I am babbling. This was a terrific post, a fresh – or at least not blatantly acknowledged topic regarding social media / networking. Take Care – Bryan

4 years 1 month ago

Hey there Bryan,

Great to have you here, sir, and especially coming from Ingrid – she’s stellar, and anyone that’s connected with her is A-OK with me. :)

Now I’m interested in these comments you’ve left – nothing like Groundhog Blogging to get the mind boggled. 😉

Cheers, mate, and hopefully see you around here more often. :)

Yuwanda Black
4 years 1 month ago

How refreshing to read a post on the web that brings up the topic of race, yet doesn’t degenerate into a name calling, mudslinging, wrestling match.

Excellent discourse.

Now, if we can just get Washington to play nice like this?

4 years 1 month ago

Hi Yuwanda,

Thanks for popping by, and appreciate the kind words. Jay did an excellent job in starting the convo and with the same approach (no mudslinging) – happy to continue it and glad it comes across as intended.

Politicians, though? They’re a different breed altogether… 😉

4 years 1 month ago

Danny (first forgive me for having left your blog post open for almost 20 hours…..i meant to comment and close but….can I blame this on Mtv and Gen Y?)

This post was splendid — i took a break from it to be honest with you – diversity talk always pops my corn….but your points, along with your links and conclusion were pretty stellar.

And in my opinion, every industry suffers from the same hindrance in recognition as Social Media. People like to talk to, and about, the people they know. Simple enough, but it sounded so much more erudite coming from you :)

I’m a huge fan of “Pushing Social” Standford Smith. His was the first non-white blog I read. But to be honest, it was a secondary note to the primary excellence of his contributions in chats like #blogchat and on his own blog.

In a HUGE way, I think that is the power of social media. removing pictures and leaving only words, everyone’s voice sounds like your best friend’s voice, and you open a dialog to get more of that POV, not necessarily to form an ethnic bond.

4 years 1 month ago

Stanford is awesome, Jillian, and I agree completely – it’s the content that makes him stellar, and his all-round involvement.

Which is where we need to be positioning ourselves more. The more I think about this whole topic, the more I think we may be exacerbating the “issue” by trying to bring together diversity, as opposed just trying to bring together brilliant people, regardless of race, sex, etc.

Not an easy answer, although looking outside the little bubble we can be guilty of staying within would be a good start.

And I’ll take second place to MTV. Now, had you said it was Seinfeld… 😉

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
4 years 1 month ago

Now that it is morning and I have the time I think we all are victim of our surroundings. I live in Albany NY. It is mostly white next highest percentage is black and not a lot of ethnic food options. I lived in LA for 17 years and over half of my friends are not white. They central and south american, asian, black, and pacific islanders.

I tweet with many people in LA for a client’s account and it is easily 50% non-white. But I go to Social Media Breakfast here in Albany and its 90% white.

My past career in Industrial Sales was very Chauvinist Male oriented businesses and clients. Advertising/Marketing is much less Chauvinist to me in fact almost not Chauvinist at all. But I read many opinions of how it is very chauvinist for key positions, creative etc.

I think the folks at SXSW would be surprised at how many people are tweeting in Asia and Latin America. A lot. And they aren’t using english!

4 years 1 month ago

Hey there mate,

See, that’s kinda disappointing (the breakdown of the Albany SMC). I understand that locality plays a big part, but you’d hope that social media would break down that “barrier” and bring more folks in from outside Albany, that offers a wider audience?

I dunno… how would you improve that ratio? Or do you think it’s just “what it is”?

Howie at Sky Pulse Media
4 years 1 month ago

It’s the local demographic more than anything. I bet if we got rid of race and just analyzed people and figured out how many were using Social Media etc it might wind up with some steady numbers. The population here is not very ethnically diverse. Economically yes.

Mark Harai
4 years 1 month ago

I’m not white. Jk rocks. Ingrid is the bomb. Julito Varela is a social machine. Guy Kawasaki has contributed significantly to shaping social media. Calvin Lee is Mr. Twitter. These are just a few off the top of my head, I have many more flavors, shape and sizes of rockin professionals in the community I’m part of and I’m thankful for every one of them.

Not because it’s something I think about, but because community is not defined by color, race, or creed. If you really have to think about it, you’ve probably missed out on the richness of community.

And I thought you were black Danny…

4 years 1 month ago

Hey there mister,

Great list of names there – unfamiliar with Julito, but any recommendation from you is good enough for me.

And you’re bang on the money – if you even have to think, you’re missing the bigger picture.

Cheers, mate.

PS – you would chuckle at the amount of folks that tweet me thinking I’m the Detroit rapper. They must be hella disappointed when they see my avatar pop back in the reply… 😉

Mark Harai
4 years 1 month ago

Too Funny!

You should throw down a rap post for the community one of these Danny :)

Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion
4 years 1 month ago

Wait a second here. Danny isn’t black??? 😉

Furthermore, where is the Lion representation in these parts?? 😉

Mark Harai
4 years 29 days ago

Danny – ;P

Lions – Lions scare everybody when they open their mouths, so they’re not allowed haha!

4 years 1 month ago

Lions are looked after Monday to Friday. Weekends, you’re on your own, mate. :)

john Falchetto
4 years 1 month ago

YEs Mark isn’t white and he is a great example of how to do social media right. He is my A-lister and definitely in MY INNER CIRCLE!

Danny is Scottish, and an expat in Canada, that is in itself a minority.

Mark Harai
4 years 1 month ago


4 years 1 month ago

Heck, even in Scotland I was a minority mate (sober after 1.00pm). Some things just are… 😉

Dan Perez
4 years 1 month ago

Danny, Surprised to see me mentioned in your post (thanks, Punks) in a positive light 😉
I was actually very familiar with several of the statistics you introduce here, especially in the Hispanic community.

Diversity abounds in social media. I regularly attend the #Latism (Latinos In Social Media) chat every Thursday night @ 9pm ET. There are several terrific bloggers & activists within that group.

@BeingLatino is another excellent resource for Hispanics looking to engage with other Hispanics. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to have a drink with founder Lance Rios in NYC last Summer.

There are other options outside the “usual suspects” that make up the so-called “A-List”. I believe that people simply tend to believe all the hype. I’ll admit that when I started in social media, I did the same. I started to realize, however, that the content or accomplishments didn’t match up to the hype.

Seek diversity and you will find it…rather easily.


PS – Does this mean I’m not a “miserable sod” anymore? (God, I hope not)

4 years 1 month ago

Hey there mister,

Yep, that’s a common mistake (the hype trap) that I guess we’re all guilty of buying into. And that’s one of the issues right there – if the same publications or events keep quoting and using the same people, no wonder it’s seen as this myopic little bubble filled with a certain demographic.

Thanks for adding these resources here, mate, I’ll be checking them out.

And yes, you pass the miserable sod test this time. But grace period is almost over. 😉

4 years 1 month ago

Thanks for the resources! I will definitely be checking them out. Alas, I dream of a world where I can find Latino social media mavens without having to type in Hispanic/Latino

4 years 1 month ago

Interesting. As a Hispanic chica a bit obsessed with social media, I find myself asking the same question often. In my case, I don’t make a point of looking at the “inner circle,” but I inevitable stumble upon it whenever I find myself trying to engage with the industry. If social media is not only for white boys, right now it sure seems like it.

And I think this is the key issue: that it seems like it. It looks like it is because of many and then some of the reasons already listed above (the industry’s lack of effort, racial biases, the lack of efforts of minority groups themselves). So, I am absolutely interested in what can be done/what needs to happen/how do we diversify the guru circle (which is truly what we are talking about here.)

I know plenty of Latino social mediators (yep, I made up the word) who attended sxsw. Most were, indeed, probably difficult to spot given that they may not “look” Hispanic. Yet most were probably also not sitting at the roundtables and lecturing on social media.

I find it incredibly interesting (and frustrating) that social media, one of the great democratizing tools in a long time, reproduces the racial dynamics we see in society. Then again, that is not social media’s fault. So what do we do to change it?

4 years 1 month ago

Hey there Suset,

Wow, awesome comment and worthy of a post in its own, miss. :)

Two of my best friends are Hispanic, although (as you say) you’d be hard pushed to tell that just by appearance alone.

They’re fiercely proud of their heritage, yet at the same time they don’t call themselves Hispanic – instead, they say they’re “people”, since they’re just part of one big race that is Earth.

It’s something I wish a lot of people could learn from. Perhaps a part of the “problem”, if you like, is that by trying to find the diversity, we’re actually creating bigger problems by pigeonholing in the same way as those that would separate black, white, Asian, Latino, etc?

Not sure – but you’re right, there needs to be something better than the current “circle”, if you like, since that does tend to give a very biased view of a wider community.

Thanks, Suset! :)

Bill Dorman
4 years 1 month ago

I’m just glad I now know what SxSW means…..

Not only white, but pasty white because of too much time in front of the computer. I think the social media circle you ‘hang’ with can skew your perception. It is so big but made up of many, many silos.

From my limited perspective I think it is so cool that the people I follow and who follow back are not only people of color, but from all over the world, and probably of different religions as well.

Talk about a platform for world peace………hey, maybe that’s my next project.

Ultimately you have a tendency to ‘hang’ with people who look and act like you. However, I have found it to be a very diverse universe in the twitter world and it has greatly enriched my experience.

Good post Danny Boy…….bet you’ve never been called that before, huh?

4 years 1 month ago

Agree completely, Bill – if there’s one thing that social media has the potential to be, it’s a leader in world change.

Look at the Egyptian revolt; or the Japanese tsunami; or the Haiti earthquake; or the ongoing use of social media in the Middle East to ensure real stories get out.

Here’s to that continuing.

And no, I’ve never been called Danny Boy since, oh, last weekend? 😉

Cheers, sir!

4 years 1 month ago

Hi Danny
Great Post!
As a woman, Hispanic (in a mainly white community)over 50 and a little overweight, I should know about feeling different, but the truth is, I don’t.
I do feel that many minorities stick together, to raise awareness about their “differences” within their community, without giving themselves an opportunity to learn from all others.
When I read Jay’s blog, I didn’t get all defensive or thought of him as a jerk for stating a fact.
Yes, probably minorities do not get the speaking engagements, but are minorities encouraging their experts to be “out there” sharing their knowledge or just gathering together and feeling like no one wants them?
I wonder if the conference was held in another part of your country, lets say, New York or Chicago? if Jay would have a different observation.
Furthermore, I suggest having one in Toronto, the most multicultural city in the world, perhaps Jay would find a rainbow of colors that would also include me.
Was Jay wrong on his observation?..perhaps a little skewed, but not different that I would have…Did Dan need to do research in trying to make a point about Jay’s opinion, not really…but it got us all going, didn’t it?
regardless of where we are from or the color of our skin, what unites us is the quest for a better world (or our opinion of how that world should be,)so lets keep talking!

4 years 1 month ago

Hey there Cecilia,

That’s a good point about encouragement from within. I remember about 12-18 months ago, when there was a big online “stink” about not enough women being invited to speak at events.

That sparked a big debate around the same question – is it because event organizers are sexist, or because not enough women were submitting speaking proposals.

Interesting question, and one that could have similar value here.

Hopefully my post doesn’t infer Jay as being a “jerk” – that’s the last thing I’d want to do. I have a lot of time and respect for Jay – one of the very few A-listers whose blog I read religiously.

Besides, I’ve been known to say how I really feel about someone from time to time, so I would have come straight out and said that had it been my view… 😉

And yes – let’s keep the talking and start thinking less about being diverse and more about being integral, regardless.