Turning the Tide

For marketers, there are obvious problems when we don’t know how traffic is generated. These visits can be lumped as ‘referral’ or ‘direct’ visits within your website’s statistics. Occasionally, we might see the referrer as being a webmail provider, but that’s about as clear as it can get. Obviously this can be somewhat of an issue for us marketers that are so hugely data driven.

The first thing we need to admit is that dark social was in existence before marketers started taking measurements. It’s only recently we’ve made sharing a public activity, and therefore tracked it. And while we are very good at harvesting referral data, there’s always going to be a black hole in our statistics.

Once we get past these points, we can look at some of the advantages of dark social, and ways to use it to our advantage. After all, sharing is always good, regardless of whether we know the motivation.

Focusing on the Benefits of Dark Social Media

According to the report we linked to earlier, almost a third of people share exclusively using dark social methods. Additionally, these types of shares tend to result in multiple clicks; people focus a lot more on the content.

This also guides us as to the type of content that is likely to be shared in the “dark”. Research tells us that categories like travel, science and education are high on the list. Contrast this with the links that most people share on social media: viral videos, breaking news and entertainment.

There’s also a helpful correlation between social and dark traffic, in that a peak in social will often correspond with a peak in dark social, too. So even though you can’t measure precisely how these people are coming through, you can probably measure the event that led to it.

Holistic Strategies

The best way to approach any kind of marketing is to react to what is going on in real time. Dark social shares may be frustrating, and difficult to track, but that doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from them. If we know that a site like Facebook is responding well to a piece of content, and that content is triggering dark shares, that gives us a clue as to the type of person that enjoyed it.

Ultimate Creative Communications is a branding and marketing agency that can help you make sense of your visitor data. If you want to accelerate shares, or get a better insight into your audience, our team is standing by to make it happen.

Written by Charlotte Green July of 2016