21 Jun 2017

Dark Social: Don’t be afraid of the dark!

If you haven’t heard the term ‘Dark Social’ before, it might sound quite uninviting, scary and negative but in the digital world, there is no escaping the dark!

What does Dark Social mean?

The term ‘Dark Social’ was coined in 2012 by former deputy editor of The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal.

Simply put, Dark Social means the traffic that comes from untrackable sources. Itis social sharing that creates inbound website traffic from sources that web analytics tools like Google Analytics are unable to track. When such traffic lands on the website, analytics mark it as ‘Direct traffic.’

“Dark Social is traffic that originated from sharing a URL, but marked as direct traffic in analytics tool” – @alexismadrigal

“Any Content or link shared via chat/ email. They are untagged analytics & their shareablity cannot be tracked.”#SocialPowWow – @BhargavaVikrant

Dark Social traffic channels:

Messaging apps – like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat etc.

Native mobile apps—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc.


Secure browsing—If you click from HTTPS to HTTP the referrer won’t be passed on

Don’t be afraid of the dark: Time to embrace it!
Dark Social

According to a research by @RadiumOneover 80% of content is being shared via ‘Dark Social’ 

Surprised to know that? Further the study states, in the last year and a half dark social shares as a percentage of on-site shares jumped from 69% to 84% globally!

Consumers respond the most to Dark Social shares via their mobile devices

62% of clickbacks on Dark Social shares now come from mobile devices. The other 38% of clickbacks on Dark Social shares come from desktops. – @RadiumOne

India is the second-largest market for messaging apps and is the fastest growing market for mobile messaging apps, according to a report by eMarketer. By 2020, there will be more than 230 million mobile messaging app users in India.

What does this data indicate?

Huge amount of conversations are happening in the dark social space! AND…

…It’s just fair to assume that mobile devices have become a preferred medium for content consumption and interaction.

An opportunity for marketeers?

Considering the above facts and figures, Dark Social is too big to be ignored! Marketers can drive real and relevant insights from this space. Understand the real interests of consumers and can give businesses the ability to target the right network of people sharing content with each other. It’s important for brands to leverage this space to reach relevant audience and increase return on investment.

As the customer journey has become increasingly fragmented and complex, marketers can use Dark Social data to gain insight into how consumers are sharing content across messaging apps, texts, and email. 

Consider the brand O2It has integrated sharing widgets and URL shorteners across its owned and earned media assets. These enable the brand to track and understand how content is shared on dark social. It enabled O2 to find out what people share and engage with, who they share it with and on what devices. While the data is anonymous, it enabled the brand to identify core consumers that share content regularly with friends, enabling it to reach a wider audience than it might usually do.

In India too, our own prime minister, Mr. Narendra Modi used the Whatsapp community effectively to reach out to masses during his election campaign. A special whatsapp number was launched where people could share their views w.r.t the election, make suggestions and engage with the PM through his team. We all know the success of his campaign!

By understanding the Dark Social data, insights about what’s being shared by the audience, brands can tweak and develop long term content strategy to target the right audience with relevant content. What do you think?

Are you still afraid of the dark? OR ready to embrace it?

The article first appeared on LinkedIn.



Ancita always came across as an eager learner and willing to go the extra mile. She's got good language and social media skills and uses these to her advantage. She was also dependable and I believe she would be a good asset in any organization. I wish her well for the future.

Rony Thomas, Head of Communications, Amazon


Ankita supported us in connecting with the CMO community on social media in India - she is knowledgeable, articulate, prompt and superbly organized. She is fast to learn and agile to create business impact, which distinguishes her in the projects she works on.

Rajesh Kumar Jindal, Vice President, Head of Marketing, SAP


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Abhilasha Padhy, Communications Manager, Google


Ancita is a Star performer at Six Degrees. She takes initiative and has a ‘To Do’ attitude. This has reflected in her taking up the onus of focusing her skills on Digital within the firm during the last one year and even on her own through an initiative like the SocialPowWow. She has a strong understanding of developing engaging content for audiences to increase relevance for brands. We believe that she has great potential to develop as an integrated communications professional.

Rishi Seth, Group CEO, Cohn & Wolfe Six Degrees


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Cijo Mathew, General Manager, 20:20 MSL


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Priyank Dubey, Communications Lead, ESPN


Ancita and I have been working closely for 4 years now & it has been an inspiring journey thus far. It has been amazing to see her transformation from an curious social media learner to a professional digital media expert. Her knack for the understanding the digital landscape is special. While she certainly is an expert in various aspects of digital marketing but her initiative "SocialPowWow" has been really impressive. Today it's one of the most popular Twitter chats in India. She is great human being, hard worker & thinker. Her infectious smile can be an asset in any work environment. Wishing her all the success in any endeavours she chooses for herself.

Nitin Bhatia, Managing Director, Meltwater


A dedicated, smart and media savvy publicist. Her sound understanding about the real estate business and clarity of thought makes her a go-to person for all communication queries. Strong command over english language and a collaborative team player makes her a best fit for a challenging role. I highly recommend her for a profile that requires a go-getter, passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable and intelligent person.

Nikhil Savio Gutal, Deputy Manager, Marketing & Communication, Cushman & Wakefield


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Sayani Bagchi, Area Sales Manager, Britannia Industries Limited


Ancita is an extremely dedicated resource and a great value add for an organization. Her attention to detail, intelligence and proactive approach has always delighted the people she works with and the clients she services. Ancita is absolutely great with digital media and gives creative, yet practical ideas. I wish her all the best for future!

Shreya Sabharwal, Vice President, Ernst & Young


Ancita has been a valued colleague at Six Degrees. She's focused and dedicated at work and brings in fresh thinking and approaches to mandates that she's entrusted with. Equally importantly she's a stickler for details and micro-manages things till the work gets done!

Rahul Mishra, General Manager, Cohn & Wolfe India


Ancita is a thorough professional who is particular about deadlines and quality of work. You can always bank upon Ancita on any work that is on her task list. A proactive individual who not only pushes herself but her team too.

Siddharth Kumar, Deputy General Manager, Cohn & Wolfe India


Ancita is a thorough professional and absolutely meticulous with her work. She took a lead in Digital when it was the upcoming hottest trend and that is commendable. Always ready to pitch in with ideas on a campaign,love her energy. She is and will be an asset to any organization that she chooses to be associated with. It has been a pleasure working with her here.

Pooja Poddar Jain, Account Director, Cohn & Wolfe Six Degrees


Ancita is very good in her craft of digital PR and comes with sound knowledge on digital. She is a great team player and has shown great capabilities to lead any team project. She is a great colleague, it has always been a pleasure to work with her and is very easy to work with.

Shalini Gunashekar, Associate Account Director, Cohn & Wolfe Six Degrees


SocialPowWow chat is one of the most innovative conversations involving small businesses and thought leaders. Ancita deserves a lot of credit for being the go-getter in bringing everyone together.

Cheval John, Founder & CEO, VallanoMedia, LLC, Houston


I'm impressed and inspired by Ancita Satija for creating an initiative as cool as SocialPowWow and making it a movement. How many young professionals go above and beyond to make a mark and leave a legacy? Ancita has set an example for others to follow. I am sure this weekly tweet chat will grow to become much more than just a chat.

Amith Prabhu, Founding Dean @SCoReInd, CoFounder @PRAXISInd & @PRomiseFdn


SocialPowWow is one of those must attend twitter chats like #TwitterSmarter #Hootchat #MediaChat with vibrant, engaged communities discussing relevant & trending topics on social media and with a smart and friendly host like Ancita!

Zen Yinger, CEO, ZenSocial, North Carolina


Congratulations #SocialPowWow for completing two years. You have always been amazing in getting interesting people to exchange views on interesting and relevant topics. You are the platform that brings out-of-the-box minds together across the globe in the world of clatter. Stay there with us -- as a friend, as a trend spotter, and stay relevant. Wishes for many more.

Sounak Mitra, Associate Editor @moneycontrolcom


I had the pleasure of working with Ancita, during my time at Burson Cohn and Wolfe. Ancita is affable and very easy to work with - great qualities to have in a team mate! She's a dedicated employee whose positive spirit helps guide the team that she’s in. Her experience and knowledge in digital, from copywriting to social media strategies makes her an asset to any organisation.

Thimah Hameed, Vice President - Regional Digital Strategy Marketing Lead, DBS Bank