What is Dark Social and why do you need to know?

z160Dark Social is a marketing phenomenon that was first coined and understood just a couple of years back in 2012 by The Atlantic’s Alexis C. Madrigal. It turns out that Mr. Madrigal discovered, in his research, that this Dark Social was actually nearly 60% of The Atlantic’s content sharing situation out at its social media platforms and at its site. So, what exactly is Dark Social and why is it important that you understand it and integrate it into your overall online and social media marketing strategies?

  •  This Dark Social traffic is, basically, content and links that users are sharing at their social media pages and especially through email that tends to go undetected by social media marketing strategies and analytics. Madrigal began noticing a substantial boost in traffic to their website and soon discovered that it was coming mostly from email accounts.
  • As Madrigal began to analyze the traffic that was coming in, especially traffic that was coming to a particular page or article, he made the leap that this traffic was ending up there via some manner of link that the visitor had clicked on that had been sent to them directly by someone they knew. Despite this revelation, Madrigal really didn’t know how to track the traffic so as to reach out them with their online, search, or social media marketing strategies.
  • Many brands and small businesses have begun to track their Dark Social traffic through a widget in HTML code. Brands and businesses have become simply astounded at the numbers they are discovering. Turns out that over half of the traffic coming into these sites is Dark Social traffic that has gone unnoticed and ignored for so long.
  • You need to get a handle on how much of your site and content is actually being shared online. This must include all of your social media marketing platforms as well as the sources for this Dark Social traffic such as Instant Messaging and email. It has been determined that private platforms, rather than the established social media platforms, are accounting for slightly over 70% of the sharing that is going on.
  • This is hugely important to your marketing and to your efforts to drive traffic. By analyzing this Dark Social traffic, you will be able to focus in on the specific reasons that this traffic is coming to your site. If they have been coming for particular content, then you must begin to replicate and provide more of that type of content.
  • To boost your search and social media marketing efforts, you need to understand that this Dark Social is content being shared by someone who is passing it along to those in their immediate social group. This is an untapped source for new business and an opportunity to extend your demographic reach. You will able to target future customers by marketing to matching demographics of those who have wandered over to you through a Dark Social connection.

Your online and social media marketing needs to take a step up in due diligence and analytics research. Once you have discovered the huge amount of unaccounted for and untraceable traffic, you will be well on your way toward re-vamping your content and marketing efforts to focus on this potential revenue source.