Oh, you’ve never heard of dark social? You’re not alone, and that’s why we’re here to help. In short, dark social is the sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by analytics programs. You know, when you see a Facebook ad for a car and fall in love with it, you send it on to your boss as a private message on Facebook saying you suddenly need a company car. Or when you screenshot a trendy pair of fall boots to send to your sister for her opinion (and approval) on whether or not you should buy them. Both of those scenarios are examples of dark social.
Dark social is an emerging number in the social media marketing world that nobody can seem to put their finger on because, well, it’s dark.
Nearly every social media network has some form of untrackable social content sharing system. These forms include private messaging, sharing content to private groups, sharing via email, etc.
Sharing content through these mediums provides a wealth of high-quality traffic to your website, but it is nearly impossible to track by web analytics programs.
Say you went to a car dealership with the perfect car in mind to buy, but you need to send the information to your significant other for approval before you pull the trigger. Cue opening up the Facebook app to find the post or ad that reeled you into the dealership in the first place.
Once you have the right post pulled up, you send it as a text message to your significant other so they can see photos, specs, and pricing. When they click on the link from their text messages, it will take them directly to the right web page. This is an example of dark social — pushing traffic to your website through social content sharing that is not directly attributable. According to web analytics, this traffic will show as “direct traffic”. But did that person really type in the entire URL? Probably not. You then get the approval and go on to buy the car of your dreams. That’s a victory for everyone involved, or as we like to say, “#Winning!”
Now that you know what dark social is and how people share content behind-the-scenes, what’s next? This is where we come in. At Friendemic, we work tirelessly to ensure that we are providing you with the most effective social media. Since we are well aware that not all social media marketing efforts show on the front-end, we craft content and manage the backend of pages to help optimize for engagement, community involvement, and sales — including on dark social.
If the original post wasn’t created with strategy, targeted to the right audience, and optimized for results, that text message to your significant other would have never taken place and the sale most likely wouldn’t occur. Ultimately, dark social is not necessarily a new concept, but something that we as social media marketers are keeping an eye on and will continue to provide updates on the latest social media happenings.