The way people are communicating these days have changed. The growth in messenger applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and Twitter Direct messages is rising. It only means one thing, people are sending links to each other all the time without referrer tags. Which brings us to the main issue, Dark Social. Dark social, is when one visits a website and finds a great blog post or product link that is interesting enough to be shared; But, instead of sharing it publicly the URL is shared privately through other means such as Facebook messenger, Twitter Direct Messages, WhatsApp, or emails. Many people tend to send URLs through chat messengers which has made Dark social important yet untraceable, because it creates invisible traffic to websites.
Even though websites may be getting the traffic it needs, one should be concerned about dark social, or as most businesses call it, “sharing in the dark”. Messaging tools are increasing and Privacy Concerns on social media are growing which is raising over-sharing concerns among users who don’t wish to be labeled as “over-sharers”. Many people work in an environment where social sharing is blocked by network firewalls and it’s easier to go around it and copy/paste the links into an email. There are 5 reasons why companies can’t ignore dark social; Dark social is everywhere, it has a huge impact on traffic, it is a spectacular marketing opportunity, it reaches unique demographics, and dark social sharing is prevalent in many industries. These characteristics help dark social grow and affect marketers. If incapable of tracking where most of the traffic is coming from, marketers won’t be able to know where to concentrate most of their efforts.
According to RadiumOne research dark social impact is significant depending on the research study, it represents anywhere between 32-75% of sharing at the same time Facebook has experienced a 21% decline in personal sharing (but with measured growth in work related professional sharing). This hidden sharing activity (dark social) could represent 3 times that of Facebook, so well worth understanding in the study done by the RadiumOne platform, dark social is close to 70% of all online global referrals. Imagine investing in social and at the best being only able to measure 30% of the investment.
With Google Analytics, marketers can narrow down the data seeker of the dark social trafficking or at least the approximate number and can find the websites that are not memorable or easy enough to be manually typed, and by finding this list, it’s easy to detect the URLs that have been shared in the dark.
Dark Social is used by everyone and it’s going to stay out there because of the essential nature of the way people are. Most people don’t like to share things publicly, and are more prone to keeping things privately shared with their close groups of people. However, thanks to Google Analytics, it’s now able to detect all sorts of website traffic and thus marketing efforts can be controlled by brands.
Source: socialmediaexaminer.com, digitaldoughnut.com, prophet.com