• April 22, 2024

If you’re in marketing, this is what you need to know about dark social dark.

Social refers to Invisible shares that happens through apps like messenger, but also text messages and emails. For example, if you go to New York Times right now, find an article, any article, send it to your friend through Facebook Messenger, you have now shared that link through dark social. And now the team at New York Times will see this traffic attributed as direct traffic even though you didn’t type the URL directly into the browser. So they won’t actually know where you came from or how you found the article, making dark social a type of referral traffic, that is commonly attributed to the wrong channel.

The term dark social was coined by Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic in 2012, who at the time said we’re seeing and measuring just the tip of the sharing Iceberg, and he was right. The private nature of these channels makes it impossible for marketers to find where the source of the traffic is. And this is the Crux of the matter. How do you produce numbers for something that can’t be measured.

Marketing firm Rhythm One says that more than 80% of shares are Dark. That means that most teams are basing their advertising dollars based on just 20% of what’s happening. In fact, if you looked at your analytics right now, you’ll probably see that 60 to 80% of your traffic comes from what Google calls direct traffic. And direct traffic is just another way of saying Google has no idea where it came from.

This is still largely an unsolved mystery and it’s going to be different from business to business. The wisdom that remains true is to make sure that your brand is publishing content constantly, be everywhere all the time. That’s how You can maximize your messages across dark social. So don’t worry so much about not being able to track the details of where everything’s coming from.

Talk to your customers, get anecdotal information. Ask them where they heard about you and keep putting yourself out there, keep putting your brand out there. Even if you can’t track the specifics of how it’s helping you. Rest assured that people are consuming your content, they’re sharing your content, even if it’s through channels that you can’t necessarily track with analytics.

I’d love to hear from you. What has been your experience with dark social? Have you cracked the code? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll see you in the next video.