Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Dark Social


What is Dark Social?

Alexis C. Madrigal coined “dark social” term, which is the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by analytics tools. This usually happens when a link is sent via social chats or emails, but not over a social media platform.

The content shared over private messaging apps, SMS or emails is less accurately tracked. Moreover, the opportunities are pretty big here. All websites collect visits from a link shared in an email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Slack, etc. but the analytics programs can’t attribute it to a specific source.

Why Does Dark Social Matter?

There is only one answer: because marketers can’t track the success of their campaigns if they don’t know which channels performed the best. Sometimes this traffic inflates the “direct traffic” metric because the actual sources can’t be defined. So, you can’t be sure where you’re getting the most traffic from.

“Dark social” concept is expanding. In fact, dark social generates 84% of all social sharing activity.

Users are more likely to share on dark social.

When you want to share something with your friend, you’re more likely to head to dark social channels to do so (63%) rather than open social media platforms (54%). And what is more important, around 20% share only via these channels, with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger the go-to services.

In this contest, brands may need to shake-up their social media plans and start to monetize these dark social platforms.

Adidas was one of the first to make a move with its Tango Squad campaign which used Facebook Messenger to connect young footballers and build a squad of brand advocates.

Meanwhile, Starbucks is exploring the use of groups in these spaces for deeper interactions with consumers about product development.

Working Ways to Track Dark Social Media Sharing

Here are several ways to track the share of traffic coming from “hidden” sources.

Social Sharing Buttons

Having these buttons on your website makes it easy for people to share your content. It doesn’t actually track dark social sharing but avoids it altogether.

Make sure that you involve all the popular sharing options, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Linkedin, email, etc. Because people will copy-paste a link when there is no sharing option available for the website that they visit.

Use UTM Codes

You can include a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) code to each URL, to track the link-sharing activity more effectively. These codes help analytics tools to determine the content source.

This method is great when you want to track a specific campaign’s ROI. UTM links will show you which visits are associated with a campaign.

Use Dark Social Tracking Tools

Several tools can help you track dark social content or manage your social sharing in a way to avoid dark social.

Here are some of the popular tools that you can use:

1. GetSocial

GetSocial gives you an opportunity to track all of your shares, including those shared via private messaging channels.

It provides a code that you can put on your website’s header. You can activate it by going to the “address bar tracking” section. Now, you can track all of your content, even the dark social content.

2. Po.st

This software also provides social sharing buttons that you can add to your website. You can then measure all the visits using those buttons.

Here you can shorten your link but also track it. Use this feature for any page whose traffic you want to track. It also offers detailed analytics for that link and tells you the exact traffic sources and what activities drove that traffic.

3. AddThis

This tool is similar to GetSocial in that it also gives you an opportunity to attach social sharing buttons and a code to track your shares.

All you need to do is make an account and download the code, plugin, and app. Then you apply the code to your website and start tracking your shares.

Need more assistance? Our digital marketing experts know how to use dark social tools to promote your business.