Dark Social

Track & Measure: Shining a Light on Dark Social

When it comes to social media sharing, over 74% is done via dark social, Outbrain reports. Dark social is all the rage these days; let’s demystify this new social media phenomenon.

What is dark social?

Dark social occurs when a person shares information privately (via messaging apps, social media channels and email), and the direct source can’t be traced. Here’s an example: if you see a cool article on Forbes and copy and paste that link in an email to send to your brother – you’ve just engaged in dark social.

What does dark social mean for brands?

Brands that aren’t paying to attention to dark social should be! Shares of your content aren’t public, as users aren’t necessarily using the social share buttons from your website. This makes tracking that much more difficult, a barrier to creating a complete picture of your analytics.

When a person sends information via dark social methods, it’s typically sent to a selective group for a specific reason. These types of shares often have much higher click-through-rates thanks to the strong connection between the sender and receiver.

What can brands do to track their dark social activity?

Try using these tools to pump up your analytical ability when it comes to your website.

Link shortener: You can track clicks and link copies with this link shortener tool. You’ve got options: use a version with an administrative interface, WordPress plug-in or drop the code in your content management system (CMS) on the webpages you want to run the URL shortener tool. As a sweet little feature, you can create a vanity domain – branding your short links by starting the link address with your brand name.

Link back messages on copied text: When a person copies and pastes text from your website, set up a link-back (the link from that page will appear at the end of the text). Think of this as a modern-day citation of your website as a source!

Copied URL tracker: This tool measures how many times different page links are copied and clicked on by those sent a URL.

Dark social is a powerful force in user engagement. Brands should take advantage of monitoring all online engagement, including dark social. With just a few proactive steps, a brand can get a 360 degree view of their online impact.

Original post written by Devoreaux Walton for Vertical Nerve | 7.20.15