Imagine a situation where you’re scrolling through your computer at work, bored and uninspired, until you run into an article called 30 Things To Do To Keep From Getting Bored Out of Your Skull At Work. Rather than sharing it on Facebook, you want to send it to a coworker, so you copy the URL in the browser and paste it into an email message. You’ve now just engaged in the field of “Dark Social”. We’ve all shared articles using tools outside of social media. Thanks to the reach dark social has, it’s been reported to be responsible for 84 percent of outbound sharing. So what is this hidden feature of web traffic, where else does this happen, and—most importantly—how can your business harness dark social media? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Dark Social?
Most people believe that traffic to social media is all social traffic you receive, which is a wrong perception. Alexis C. Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, coined the term “Dark Social” to address the underlying avenue of shared content that lies outside of what can be measured by Web analytics programs. The main dark social channels include email programs, SMS/Chat messages, some native mobile applications, and secure browsing (when you click from an HTTPS to HTTP site).
According to RadiumOne, dark social makes up nearly 84% of the actual social traffic running through your business. This vast area of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs.
Top Reasons Why This is Important For Your Business
Dark social is everywhere and has a huge impact on traffic
It is an area of potential for brands and marketers to leverage where they can get access to the right data. When you know what works and what doesn’t earlier on, you make informed decisions about where to spend your dollars.
There is a larger reach for unique demographics
Not all audiences have grasped social media, and a percentage of 55+ users share solely on dark social.
Dark social sharing is prevalent in many industries
It is important to have a better understanding where your audience comes from as there’s a false sense of security in believing a greater portion of your audience comes solely through social channels. Companies who break out of that mentality have an advantage, with an ability to implement strategies to cover their social engagement in their industry.
How to Measure Dark Social and Why It's Important
For anyone who publishes content online, it’s important to know where the majority of their readers come from. Marketers must strategize and track their dark social traffic, which could account for 60 or 16 percent of their total web traffic. Here are a couple of tactics and tools you can use in your strategy.
- Shorten URLS, and maintain links (with UTMs): These will help you pinpoint which campaign the link was associated and attribute traffic to the right source.
- Allow users to share content easily: The quality of your share buttons should match the quality of your content.
- Use Dark Social Tools like the popular Google Analytics, or tools such as Po.st, ShareThis, GetSocial.io, and AddThis: These provide social engagement and analytics tools to help understand traffic origins.
Dark Social is an untapped space for business potential and affects the current marketing and social sphere that many businesses have sometimes overlooked in their strategies. Get started on your strategy today.