As protests swept the nation this June, Black Lives Matter social media played a key role in the sharing of information and keeping audiences in the know. Hashtag activism, and other social media-based movements are nothing new. Several movements including #ArabSpring to #MeToo have leveraged social media to inform and inspire action.
This moment in American history is unique, however, with much of the population at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak and social media usage increasing 32%. Recent months have also seen a marked rise in new social platform adoption, with TikTok reaching over 2 billion downloads last quarter and services like Twitch branching out from their original base.
Mediakix partnered with Scout Social to share data insights illustrating the far-reaching impact that Black Lives Matter and related campaigns have made on social media. These statistics include record-breaking app usage, movement-defining hashtags, and more key data points we’ve seen this month.
Black Lives Matter Social Media Statistics, Facts & Figures
TikTok, the fastest growing social media app, became a crucial platform for protesters to share information and videos taken on the street. It’s an impressive demonstration of the app’s relevance and affinity with younger demographics, namely Gen Z and millennials. The video-sharing company has reported 12 billion views for the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter alone.
Additionally, #justiceforgeorgefloyd videos have received 1.3 billion views, #justiceforahmaud videos have received 125.2 million views, and #justiceforbreonna videos have received 5 million views.
In total, these BLM and related hashtags received more views than TikTok’s usual entertainment hashtags including the most viewed hashtag challenge, #RainDropChallenge (1 billion views).
One of the most visible awareness-raising campaigns this June originated with the music industry and quickly spread to a broader audience — so much so that its “black square” posts unintentionally disrupted other activist hashtags. The original idea began with two Black music industry execs, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, calling for “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect without community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”
#BlackoutTuesday quickly caught on with audiences beyond the music industry. While many users posted black squares with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, many also used BLM and related hashtags in conjunction making it difficult to surface timely and informative BLM content and news.
Despite this issue, the effort succeeded in showing that millions of users could adopt a movement in a matter of days. To date, Instagram users have tagged 24 million posts with the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag — nearly double the 12.4 million hashtag #ad posts
Another entertainment industry hashtag, #sharethemicnow took a different approach to raising awareness. This three-day campaign featured 46 Black women activists taking over the accounts of 46 white women celebrities to bring greater attention to their work.
The campaign explained, “When the world listens to women, it listens to white women. For far too long, Black women’s voices have gone unheard, even though they’ve been using their voices loudly for centuries to enact change. Today, more than ever, it is NECESSARY that we create a unifying action to center Black women’s lives, stories, and calls to action. We need to listen to Black women.”
Participants included activists like #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, Melina Abdullah and “Pose” star and trans-rights activist, Angelica Ross. Celebrity participants included stars like Julia Roberts (8.9 million followers), Elizabeth (2.4 million followers) Warren, and Kourtney Kardashian (95 million followers).
Many social platforms and tech companies decided to do more than just share messages of support – they put their money where their mouth is. In some cases, it was a lot of money. YouTube’s pledge of $100 million far surpassed Facebook and Amazon’s $10 million each. According to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the fund would be, “dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists.”
On June 13th, the online video-sharing platform hosted a live streaming event as part of this enterprise called “Bear Witness, Take Action” that also raised funds for the Equal Justice Initiative. According to Wojcicki, this was just the beginning of ongoing efforts to promote justice and equality on YouTube.
Similar to both Instagram and TikTok, Twitter became a vital source of news and information for protesters and citizens alike. The app set a record for most single day app downloads (677,000) and most active daily users (40 million) this June.
While Twitter is one of the oldest social media platforms (founded in 2006), the microblogging and messaging app became a place where users could find up-to-the moment conversations between journalists, stars, activists, and even the U.S. president. Twitter allowed users to connect effectively and simultaneously with a cross-section of voices.
Pew research began tracking the use of #BlackLivesMatter on Twitter in 2013 when the movement was founded. The weeks following May 26 showed an unprecedented and sustained rise in use of that hashtag in posts by Twitter users. Though it peaked on May 8 with nearly 8.8 million tweets, the hashtag continued to stay above 2 million uses per day for the next 10 days.
For perspective, #BlackLivesMatter topped 1 million uses on one day before in its seven-year history — on July 7, 2016 after the Philando Castile and Alton Sterling killings.
For years Instagram has been a key platform for brands to show their personality and beliefs. Companies like Glossier and Levi’s have demonstrated their values in the past with posts supporting the MeToo movement and voting in midterm elections. This June, Bloomberg did an in-depth analysis on how and when top brands responded to George Floyd’s killing.
They found that the companies varied widely in their posts — in tone, content, and whether they allowed user comments. Some stuck to their established brand messaging, like Nike’s “For Once, Don’t Do It” video that got over 15 million views, while others like John Deere announced donations to the NAACP. That left 24 brands posting no response, risking seeming out of touch with current events and customer sentiment.