In a recent Influencer Marketing campaign PBI Consulting helped manage in conjunction with a digital agency for a global Biotech company, we gathered hard evidence to prove dark social should never be overlooked. In this particular campaign, dark social shares accounted for a large percentage of all shares of our influencers' content. If we had failed to track and report these metrics, the campaign CPE would have been much higher and the ROI of our marketing efforts much lower. In addition, the insights we gleaned from knowing the "who" and "where" of the dark social sharing that occurred led to mid-campaign tweaks and informed our strategy to put paid behind the right influencer in the right market.
In case you are new to dark social, below I cover five facts that you should become familiar with and make sure to address in your social media marketing strategy and reporting. This is only the tip of the iceberg and I welcome any insights you would like to share in the comments below, as well as links to any additional articles covering this topic. May the force be with you!
- DARK SOCIAL is the traffic generated from referrals on private channels that are not tracked by most current analytic tools. The term was first coined in 2012 by Alexis Madrigal for The Atlantic. For more details, check out this fascinating article from the Atlantic>. More specifically 55%-70% of dark social shares are actually URL copy/paste, according to a Simply Measured study. Armed with this knowledge, marketers need to create content that not only gets shared but retains its messaging and performs no matter how or where it is shared online.
- DARK SOCIAL sharing is happening every day on Email, Messaging Apps (WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messanger, etc...) and secure browsers (HTTPS to HTTP) as well as platforms like SnapChat. Mobile devices account for the largest source of dark sharing. Furthermore, RadiumOne reports that consumers respond the most to dark social shares via their mobile devices, with 62% of click-backs on dark social shares now come from mobile devices.
- DARK SOCIAL is a 1:1 or 1: Few share. Dark sharing is more private and therefore tends to be more honest and organic. What you share in an email or text message is most likely not what you would share to your Facebook page or Twitter feed. For this reason, these shares can provide valuable insights to marketers. This past weekend, I shared several product links for patio furniture with my husband via text message. We are in the final stages of making a decision and close to a purchase, now would be the perfect time for Frontgate to offer me a coupon or free shipping to close the deal!
- DARK SOCIAL accounts for 84% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites, yet 90% of social marketing ad budgets goes directly to social networks. Dark social sharing activity has the potential to fuel and inform more effective paid media results; and without it, CPE and other KPI's are significantly underreported. Source and more detail at > Radium One.
- DARK SOCIAL can be measured, but note nothing currently available delivers 100% of all shares. For details on each tool listed below, be sure to read this report from Socia Media Today > 5 Tools to Track Dark Social Sharing.
- Google Analytics that tracks visitors who come to your website via direct search, but don’t go through your homepage (Social Media Today has detailed instructions on how to do this).
- AddThis provides social engagement tools, APIs and services personalizing websites for engagement, monetization, and traffic boosting.
- GetSocial.io is an app store for all your social media needs, from awareness to conversion. You can create an account through their website or download their Wordpress plugin or Shopify App.
- ShareThis offers a sharing tool that enables people to share any piece of content on the web with friends through e-mail, direct message, or text message.
- Po.st is owned and operated by well-known RadiumOne and allows users to share content and also provides publishers with new revenue opportunities and comprehensive analytics tools. Like all the above-mentioned tools, po.st also tracks dark social sharing and is quite active writing about it.
- Attach Urchin Tracking Module (URM) codes to URLs.