BlackPlanet Revamps As Social Aggregator
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Interactive One announced BlackPlanet Next on February 16, 2012 (Image: Interactive One)

Move over Facebook, BlackPlanet is back. BlackPlanet Next, the new iteration of the 12-year-old mainstay, has been redesigned into a social curation engine targeting African-American consumers.

Before the phrase “social network” became a household name, Black Planet had millions of users.  The site became profitable in 2002, despite the dotcom bubble that brought other Internet companies crumbling to their knees. At its peak, BlackPlanet, a product of Community Connect Inc., which built websites to engage minority audiences, grew to 20 million users, and former co-founder, Omar Wasow, was named “Sexiest Internet Executive” by People magazine. For a time, the site’s success seemed boundless–that is until the advent of MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook.

“Where are African Americans today? Facebook…We over index on Twitter, we drive the trending topics on Twitter. We over index on mobile devices and that number is growing,” explained Navarrow Wright, chief technology officer for Interactive One, BlackPlanet’s parent company, which bought the property in 2008 for $38 million through parent company Radio One.  “BlackPlanet Next is a unique social experience that will allow us to bring our thoughts and ideas to the forefront.”

Other social networking sites will be layered on top of BlackPlanet Next. The new design will allow users to aggregate content from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, placing content onto each user’s activity stream. This content can be viewed by category with separate tabs for photos, videos, links, and updates. Followers can access all of a user’s online content in one place. Also, like Facebook and Twitter, brand pages will be available for advertisers.

In addition, BlackPlanet Next will connect users with locally relevant information by allowing them to check-in at restaurants, clothing stores, or art venues using location-based features available through BlackPlanet Next on mobile phones. The site will then suggest other places visitors might like based on proximity, as well as reviews and suggestions made by the BlackPlanet Next community.

BlackPlanet is extending its brand to new platforms with the launch of BlackPlanet Next (Image: Interactive One)

Finally, BlackPlanet Radio, which launched November 2011, will play an important role on the new site. BlackPlanet Radio is the digital industry’s first social radio website targeted towards African Americans, according to Interactive One. BlackPlanet Radio allows users to share personally curated playlists amongst their social network communities. Users can choose from a library of over 14.5 million songs.

Loyal users not interested in change, don’t worry. The current BlackPlanet platform is not going away, says Wright.

BlackPlanet Next opened up an invitation-only private beta audience last week and will allow current users the option to opt-in, in the coming weeks.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.