Dark Social

Find out what Dark Social means - in online marketing. Click and read more.
Paulina Rysz
Customer Success Team
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What is Dark Social - Definition

Dark Social refers to sharing content through channels not tracked by standard analytics tools, such as private messages, emails, and private messaging apps. Dark Social is an essential element in a marketing strategy as much content sharing occurs outside of public view. Understanding and considering these private interactions can help marketers better understand how their content is received and distributed to users, which is crucial for effective targeting and personalisation of communications.

Challenges with Dark Social traffic

  1. Difficult to track and measure - web analytics cannot track the source of direct traffic generated by Dark Social, making it difficult to understand exactly where visitors are coming from and what content is being shared most frequently. The lack of data makes optimizing marketing campaigns and understanding user behavior difficult.
  2. Content strategy management - because sharing on Dark Social is invisible, it is not easy to create content that is optimised for this channel. Brands may need to be made aware of which content resonates with their audience, making it challenging to create engaging and valuable content.
  3. Privacy - users often choose Dark Social channels because of the greater control over privacy and data security. Marketers' challenge is finding ways to engage users through Dark Social while respecting their privacy and complying with data protection laws.
  4. Integration with other marketing channels - Dark Social media marketing is difficult to integrate with other channels due to a lack of visibility and data. It is not simple to create a cohesive and multi-channel marketing strategy that effectively uses all available channels.
  5. Understanding the impact on conversions - uncertainty about how much of a role Dark Social plays in driving conversions and sales. Brands may underestimate or overestimate the effect of Dark Social on their business performance, affecting budget and resource allocation.

Table of contest

Strategies for dealing with Dark Social

  • Encourage public sharing - create content that naturally encourages users to share it publicly. This could include valuable, educational, or uniquely engaging material users want to share.
  • Make sharing easy - simplify the process of sharing content on public platforms. Introduce easily accessible share buttons on websites, blogs, and newsletters.
  • Use Dark Social tracking tools - implement analytics tools to help detect and track traffic coming from Dark Social, such as specialised UTM tags on links that people can copy and paste.
  • Encourage dialogue in smaller groups - activate and engage smaller, more personalised groups, such as LinkedIn or  Facebook groups, where users may feel more comfortable sharing content.
  • Analyse and adapt - regularly analyse data and adjust strategies to better respond to user behaviour related to Dark Social.
  • Education and awareness - educate the marketing team on the importance and impact of Dark Social on marketing efforts.

Dark posts on social media

Dark posts are mainly used to test different advertisement versions without polluting a company profile's main feed. They allow A/B testing of other headlines, images, or calls to action (CTAs) to see which elements resonate best with a specific target audience. This allows marketers to optimise their advertising campaigns before they are launched on a larger scale. They are a powerful tool in the arsenal of marketing tools, allowing for a more effective and personalised approach to social media advertising. However, their practical use requires adequate knowledge and skills in advertising campaign management and data analysis.

The impact of Dark Social

Dark Social has a significant impact on understanding user traffic and engagement online:

  • Difficult to measure: A large proportion of shares are invisible in traditional web anaylitcs tools, so companies may not have a complete picture of how their content is distributed and which channels are most effective.
  • Impact on marketing strategies: Failure to understand the full range of shares can lead to wrong decisions in advertising budget allocation and content strategy.

In summary, Dark Social is an important, albeit difficult to measure, element in the digital ecosystem that requires social media marketers to understand and adapt their strategies to effectively engage users.

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