Twitter Use by Millennial Black Women During the 2016 Presidential Election
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This study examines the use of Twitter by millennial black women leading up to the 2016 presidential election. While young blacks use Twitter at higher rates than their white counterparts, there is no research that focuses specifically on their Twitter use. Using the uses and gratifications theory, this research explores this demographics’ usage through a three-phase research study. First, a survey was completed by nearly 300 millennial black women and found that their top five uses/gratifications were entertainment, information seeking, pastime, social interaction and expression of opinions. Next, focus groups were conducted and three major themes emerged: Twitter is where this demographic is receiving its news, connecting with others for entertainment purposes and expressing their opinions to varying degrees. Due to the political climate in which these focus groups were conducted, another major topic of discussion was how the election was playing out on social media. Finally, a content analysis of the focus group participants’ tweets was conducted and, while it had several limitations, revealed that social interaction, expression of opinions and relaxation/pastime were the top three uses. This research demonstrates that the uses and gratifications theory is highly relevant to social media research. It also provides valuable insights on walled gardens given the political backdrop. Finally, it appears to be the first research study focused specifically on how millennial Black women are using Twitter to engage politically and otherwise.