What is “Dark Social”?

Social media has brought unprecedented openness in recent years. Personal information has suddenly been shared with the whole world. Those who do not value a decided attitude towards privacy, are content to make their contributions, photos, videos ... public until their privacy ends. At this point, however, the point is not to talk about how these privacy rules can be meaningfully applied. But that the end of all privacy, especially by Mark Zuckerberg, was already announced, until suddenly...

The trend is again going in the opposite direction

Due in part to the rise of messaging platforms, communication has shifted back to the classic dialogue. And this in an environment where Internet use is reaching saturation among the younger generation and is massively increasing among the over 50s. The rapid growth of mobile internet traffic in particular is encouraging this behavior, because on smartphones, the possibility of fast forwarding is readily used. And in the dialogue, it focuses on one or a few selected recipients and not on an unknown audience in the social media world. Therefore, the recipient's willingness to respond to such recommendations is likely to be several times higher. This means that the natural human behavior of passing on information finds its equivalent in the digital world. At first glance, this communication is not in harmony with the open world of social media, but takes place clandestinely, in the dark. That's why we're talking about Dark Social. It almost seems as if users have had to train themselves to share and transmit information on Facebook and Twitter for a few years in order to transfer it into normal everyday use in a personal "digital" conversation. It is simply the order of the day to keep each other informed by mail or messenger. But for website operators, this creates a problem. The results seem to arrive as direct access to their pages. The same applies to the statistical and analytical reports of the pages. Whoever wants to make statements from them is apparently lost. Because the share of traffic from shared content is dominated by dark social and is now 84%. There must be something to it and fortunately there is. Measuring it is difficult, but the first tools already allow to analyze the traffic in the approaches. But the evolution is still in its infancy.

How important is social media (again)?

If Dark Social now has that exceptional share of shared content, how important should social media be? If actions everywhere don't want to go through traditional social networks. So do you still need a social media strategy? Can you put Facebook, Instagram and company aside and focus on the "dark threat"? No. And that's for several reasons: Dark Social has always been there and is a big part of the conversation between people. The social media party analogy applies here as well. But in addition to the conversation at tables or the buffet in the house, there is a second level of conversation. Suppose participants slip each other little messages on paper, give each other secret hand signals, or simply go into the kitchen or other nearby rooms to exchange ideas bilaterally with one or more other people. These conversations also have their share of brand and product buzz. This is completely normal behavior. As a participant in the social media party, you won't hear these conversations (directly). But someone at the discussion level will be sharing or commenting on the social media content. It doesn't have to be the original content shared, but can be a facet or detail. But these statements will be, more or less consistently correlated with the Dark Social Talk. This would allow conclusions to be drawn for the entire conversation. Social media is the visible wave of things that lie beneath the surface. With a shark, you can see the fin and infer that a big fish is approaching below the surface. As long as there are enough people on social media, in other words: the shark's fin is big enough, businesses will be able to predict trends and conversations. How should businesses respond to social darkness? But Dark Social traffic is definitely something you want to take with you. Three points are important here: Provide the right content The content has to be right. It needs to be value-added content, not conventional marketing messages. After all, who passes on the newspaper's advertising supplements to their friends ... and if they do, the offers need to be really good. That's where good, value-added ideas are needed, ideas that inspire users so much that they want to share them with their friends. Making it easy to share But against the backdrop of Dark Social's impressive numbers, every company should have a vested interest in making it as easy as possible for users of dark sites to share links via mail, messenger and the like. This means placing corresponding sharing buttons on their own websites. Corporate sites need to become mobile-friendly. That's true anyway, and not just as far as Dark Social is concerned, as mobile traffic is outpacing internet traffic via the desktop. But the explosion of messaging or mobile email usage also makes it as easy as possible for users to share via dark social channels. Even if you can't measure where the traffic is coming from yet, it's still worth accessing sites via Dark Social on your own. You need to measure it Even though analytics tools with Dark Social are still struggling, those responsible for website social media monitoring and statistics tools should take a look at what can be discovered today. If you do this, entering the social worlds should not be a problem, whether those worlds are wide open and flooded with light or rather hidden and dark.
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