SXSW Interactive 2014

Hashtag Intervention: Why #BlackGirlsRun

In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks created Black Girls RUN! ® to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community. The mission of BGR! is to encourage black women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. The organization’s presence on multiple social media platforms has generated a name-turn-hashtag with a life of its own, becoming what appears to be one of the most successful public health interventions we've seen to date. Not only does the hashtag #blackgirlsrun clearly define an audience and behavior, it also serves as a link that creates communities of support, motivation, and empowerment in online spaces. This panel will examine how black women are engaging with social media to exchange news, tips, and support for each other on their quest to become healthier, happier women offline. Additionally, members of the BGR! team will discuss how being culturally specific in their mission and social marketing strategy has sustained their success.

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  1. How do the founders feel about the widespread use of the hashtag #blackgirlsrun? Is the hashtag monitored? If so, how? How do they see it being used most often?
  2. What kind of attention or support has BGR! received from the health industry? How receptive are BGR! members to representatives of the health industry at BGR! events?
  3. Based on BGR!'s success with social media, what kind of opportunities do social movements present for the health industry? From BGR!'s experiences, what are the processes necessary to foster such a movement?
  4. How has the organization's choice to be culturally specific (targeting specifically black women's health issues) turned out to be exclusionary or inclusionary? Could a social health movement such as this be replicated amongst other vulnerable or hard-to-reach groups?
  5. Did social media play a big role in BGR!'s initial strategic plans? If so, to what extent? Based on their conversations with members, to what do the founders of BGR! attribute their social marketing success (i.e. word of mouth, tagging friends, BGR!'s posts, a specific social media platform, etc.)?



Felicia Harris, Doctoral Intern for New Media, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Meta Information:

  • Tags: health
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Social and Relationships
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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