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!
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
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
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.
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.
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 O2: It 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.
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