• Shining Light on Dark Social


Dark Definitions

Dark Social. Sounds ominous, right?

Black market, black hat, the Dark Side of the Force – all these things bear a certain negativity in their names, eliciting fear and prompting people to stay away at all costs, lest they suffer for it.

But when The Atlantic’s Tech Editor Alexis Madrigal coined the term “Dark Social” in 2012, he wasn’t referring to something harmful, but something infinitely more helpful, especially for businesses. He was referring to all the GOOD Dark Social can do!

But more on that in a moment…

Defined simply, Dark Social is social sharing done through (previously) untraceable sources like email, private messaging (think texts and GChat), and other mobile information sharing apps. It takes its name not from the evil nature of its practice, but from the private, more intimate execution of sharing content with a friend. Unlike its shiny, mainstream social cousins – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. – it’s not super easy to track, but just as important if you know how!

Business Benefits

As a business owner with a modern marketing plan, you want to step into the shadows with Dark Social. Dark Social has 3 times the volume of social media channels! Sharing through these “dark” channels” provides a much more intimate experience between you and your consumers and helps you reach your interested audience in a much better and more personal way.  

Think about it.

When someone shares content from your site with a friend on a private channel – be it a video, impressive product, before-and-after photo – they’re doing all the marketing for you! 

One customer, who trusts you, sends another potential customer an invitation to trust you as well. If you can track this information, you tap into a much more valuable resource: “word-of-mouth marketing” in its purest, and most organic form. Essentially, existing customers become one of your most powerful tools: an influencer.

All you just have to do is track all that hidden social interaction and you get a fuller picture of where ALL your traffic comes from.

The Dark Art

Something like 69% of all global sharing is done on Dark Social. When you want to bring Dark Social stats into the light for your business, there are some key practices experts recommend to make the most of these reclusive results:

  1. Use Smarter Tracking: Place trackable code in URLs, and text that can be copied and pasted. Configure Google Analytics to pick up the traffic sources for your site and it will show you where your content is really going.
  2. Shorten & Implant Your URLs: People want to click on brands and messages they recognize. Seeing a (shortened and less suspicious) link with your name lets your interested customers know exactly what they’re getting. These shortened URLs are perfect for Twitter, include real-time click-back information without the need for a full dashboard, and allow for better segmentation of incoming data.
  3. Offer “Share Via Email” Options for all your Content: Put your ideas and products right in your clients’ inboxes so they HAVE to deal with them. When you make everything shareable and traceable by any means desired, your content’s share potential is unlimited.
  4. Refer to Direct Traffic: Generally, when customers click on a link in an email, they get bundled into your Direct Traffic. Longer URLs in your reporting and analytics are a dead giveaway for Dark Social – you know people didn’t type all those numbers and symbols into an address bar themselves.
  5. Create Incredible Content: By creating something customers cannot wait to share with their friends, you are only encouraging social sharing in ways sneaky tricks never could. Make your work remarkable, and let your customers spread the word.

However you decide to dive into it, one thing for the future is clear: For better results and better reporting, Dark Social is becoming the new black.

ThriveHive combines easy-to-use tools and expert guidance to help businesses stand out and get found online. Learn more about our guided marketing and advertising solutions here.

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