Dark Social: What it is and how your business can effectively engage with it

In Content Creation, Marketing Services by Kari SwitalaLeave a Comment

As foreboding as it may sound, dark social is something we all engage in – most of us on a daily basis. Let’s demystify the term, take a look at some challenges it poses and shed light on ways your business can address it.

Originally coined by a senior editor of The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal, in 2012 dark social refers to one-to-one sharing of internet content through private channels such as email, text and messaging apps. It is social sharing from sources that web analytics are unable to track. According to RadiumOne, it is estimated to account for up to 84% of global on-site sharing – the vast majority! And dark social sharing is still on the rise. As of February 2016 clickbacks from dark social shares is up to 62% from mobile devices and 38% from desktops.

As a business owner dark social may strike fear into your heart. How in the world are you supposed to accurately track your marketing metrics when so much sharing happens under the radar? The reality is that this trend is on the rise so the challenge is staying ahead of the curve and utilizing dark social to the benefit of your business.

Why is dark social sharing so difficult to track? For one, tracking devices or ‘tags’ are not attached to the shared links unless the consumer intentionally copies the original tag into the link when sharing. Often through social media sharing tags become skewed and appear to originate from a given social media platform when really they exist from an outside source. In these cases referrer data is lost and marketers have a difficult time discerning who their audience is how they’re interacting with their brand.

The manner in which consumers share information – through various channels and from numerous devices – also makes it challenging for businesses to track dark social sharing.

Fortunately, there are some great ways to work with the dark social trend instead of constantly feeling like you’re fighting against it:

1. Generate quality content – As a business, the sharability of your content is in direct correlation to its quality – continue to focus on generating relevant information that provides value and people will share it!

2. Simplify the sharing process – Guarantee that the “Share” link on your website is easy for visitors to locate, ensuring that the content sharing process is streamlined through your predetermined, easy-to-track method.

3. Include a copy-and-paste button at the bottom of your content – This option encourages your audience to share your content privately therefore working with the dark social trend. It preloads a UTM URL into the bar and the UTM serves as a tattletale that captures the origin of the content sharing.

4. Shorten URL’s – They are more “sharable” and look cleaner on certain social media platforms. Ow.ly is a fantastic URL shortener and allows you to integrate images, track clicks and post to various social media networks.

5. Consider utilizing dark social tools – One fantastic dark social tool is GetSocial.io. It allows you to track dark social sharing on your website through a piece of code you insert into your HTML. Other great tracking tools include Po.st, ShareThis and AddThis.

If you are concerned about dark social sharing and would like help navigating this topic, schedule your free 15 minute consultation where one of our marketing experts can help formulate a plan that best helps your business.

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