Dark social – no, not one of those hip restaurants that makes you eat in the dark, but a marketing term that describes the unknown. It simply refers to social sharing that can’t be accurately tracked, i.e. the stuff that isn’t picked up by web analytics platforms.

People are increasingly sharing links through private messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Snapchat, and continue to share through platforms such as email or SMS. Most of us do this… primarily because we’re passing on links we don’t want others to see!

Effective campaigns

As modern marketers, we need to be able to work out where referrals come from to maximise the effectiveness of our campaigns.

Most internet use now comes via mobiles and according to a recent report by GlobalWebIndex and We Are Social – 63% of those surveyed in the US and UK prefer to share content on ‘dark social’ channels. Which underlines just how much marketing now comes through social media, and specifically dark social.

But there are ways to take advantage, particularly if you know the demographics of your customers.

  • Shorten links – you can do this via scheduling platforms such as Hootsuite or goo.gl, as it makes people more likely to type them in a browser (and thus improve your tracking)

  • Make sharing buttons obvious. Too many sites don’t make their sharing buttons obvious enough. Make sure there are two points of entry too.

  • Finally, create quality content. Be sure to target and optimise your content so that ATL awareness campaigns run at the same time as easy-to-share digital content, which consumers will then be free to use and discuss in their own time.