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DARK SOCIAL: DOES IT REALLY MATTER?

BY EMMA BLEET, HEAD OF DIGITAL.

On the face of it, the social sharing ecosystem is not a very complex one. It’s transparent, entry is simple and it’s easy to use - but do we understand the power it has? 

According to the 2016 Radium One study 77% of all content globally is being shared via Dark Social, with 84% of all sharing happening outside of public social networks

Why does this matter?  Well, it means that a huge portion of referral traffic is extremely challenging to track accurately and if you don’t have a full view of your data you could end up wasting time (and money) with inaccurate optimisation strategies. 

With over 90% of social marketing ad budgets going directly to social networks, could this be misplaced?     

When we click a link to a site from an open social platform (such as Facebook) an analytics platform should show where that referral has come from. However, when sharing links via private messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Snapchat and again through email and SMS the challenge of tracking and understanding this referral path becomes even more difficult.  It will simply show up as ‘direct’ traffic which does not reflect the true user journey.   

We like to share; we share articles, we share images, we share products.  We are an emotive bunch!  We share when we like, love, want and also when we hate - and millions and millions of us do this on a daily basis. 92% of us trust a recommendation over any other ad form, an astounding number which can’t be overlooked.  I expect you have done this yourself - I know have, and more often than not I do it from my mobile.  We are increasingly responding to sharing from our mobile devices and as a result a growing number of advertisers are finding opportunities at the intersection of Dark Social and mobile.

So what can we do about it?  Can we accurately track Dark Social shares?  Well luckily the answer is yes - there are things you can do to help with this, working with your analytics platform and understanding what the referral links look like and the unique tracking links available. 

With Dark Social dominating sharing activity, brands must keep up. When you track sharing on your owned and earned assets you collect the most powerful and timely signals - interest and intent, and acting on these signals has proven to lift performance significantly.