Social media studies suggest that African Americans use Twitter more than other group in the U.S. — 26 percent compared to 19 percent of Hispanics and 14 percent of whites. Now, news site The Root has launched a tool that curates leading black voices on Twitter and shows the most popular ideas and trends in the community.
Called The Chatterati, the tool relies on algorithms and a hand-selected database of thousands of influential Twitter users — including entrepreneurs, academics and celebrities — to display popular news, hashtags and retweets.
“It’s a digest of what’s going on on Twitter among African Americans. That’s why we built it,” said Donna Byrd, publisher of The Root, in a phone interview. “The other benefit is it quickly identifies key conversations, which informs what we write about and how we craft stories.”
For The Root, which competes with sites like theGrio and the HuffPo’s Black Voices, The Chatterati could provide a leg up on breaking news stories. This week, for instance, Byrd said the news of NBA player Jason Collins’ decision to come out as gay trended among its users before it did among Twitter at large.
The tool, which sits atop Twitter’s API, could also be a magnet for marketers looking to target African Americans. Twitter, which has been known to cut off services that threaten its own revenue stream, is for now okay with The Chatterati, according to Byrd.
The tool itself went live this week and has categories like “top hashtags,” “top retweets” and “our favorites,” where The Root staff curate Twitter highlights. Byrd said her team is still working out a few bugs, but that The Root will continue to expand its database of the most influential black Twitter users.
Byrd said the tool’s primary purpose is to help The Root readers, who are not on Twitter all day long, and quickly discover what’s trending.
“I don’t think there’s a need for a black Twitter per se. It’s an opportunity to have a view of what’s going on in a subsection of the broader community.”