Dark Social: The Mysterious Social Media Concept Explained

Dark Social

You might have heard of Dark Social, the latest social media buzzword, and thought that it was something strange, mysterious, forbidden, or even illegal. But it’s actually a simple concept. It basically refers to the sharing of content through mediums that can’t be tracked by web analytics platforms. This includes sending links through messaging apps, native mobile apps, and email . You are part of dark social every time you send videos, articles, or any type of content via these channels instead of sharing or retweeting them.

And it’s a growing trend—a report last year from RadiumOne showed that within a year-and-a-half, “Dark Social shares as a percent of on-site shares jumped from 69% to 84% globally,” and this can be attributed to the increased use of messaging apps, such as WeChat, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger, which is the largest instant messaging service in the Philippines.


Why It’s Important

There are tons of consumer insight that can be obtained if marketers knew the activity in Dark Social. Sharing privately is a hugely personal act. The content that people send on their email and messaging apps—cat videos, beauty blogs, and event details—is what’s relevant to them and their recipients, unlike public posts that appeal to everyone.


The Problem with Dark Social

Unfortunately, Dark Social is a huge blind spot in terms of tracking website traffic. You can’t really tell the effectiveness of your content or which channel proved effective at reaching your market. Dark Social makes strategizing content and understanding customers trickier for brands.


What You Can Do

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut solution out there. However, there are some ways that may help you address this type of traffic:

Encourage Sharing

Make your share buttons larger or more visible, or give readers an incentive to share by holding contests or promos. In other words, try to incentivize trackable sharing.

Encourage Sharing

Use URL Shorteners

Because URL shorteners connect to another service to read the actual web address, it provides a method of tracking clickthroughs, even if it originated in Dark Social.

Use URL Shorteners

Web Tools

There are web tools that help you track the surface of Dark Social like GetSocial.io and Po.st. However, be prepared to make tweaks in these analytics tools.

Web Tools

Dark Social covers a huge portion of content sharing. And although it can’t be fully known, it shouldn’t stop you from creating unique, engaging, and most importantly—share-worthy content.

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