The growing phenomenon of dark social: how it’s affecting your brand
Dark Social is a term commonly referred to describe website referrals which are however untraceable by web analytics. When a person gets directed to a page through a link shared on various social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, the web analytics tools could tell where that referral came from. However, when people share the same via messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, Snapchat, email or a simple text it sends a lot of traffic to publishers but such links lack referral tags. It will show your visit as direct traffic but it’s not. So the problem here is how can an analytical platform tell what kind of traffic gets directed to the websites. Dark social is hence, that traffic which gets recognized by the web analytics as direct traffic but actually comes from intractable referrals.
It’s a phenomenon that is a part of any business involving content creation. As a brand, it’s important to understand the impact of dark social on your business as you might think that many views on your website are coming from direct sources but rather these are a more likely result of the links shared via dark social. Here’s how it could affect your brand:
- Difficulty in tracking direct traffic
When audiences share the posts from a website through dark social media like sharing it via messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram, it becomes difficult for the web analytics to track it further as these sources are untrackable. It may seem like direct traffic but you can’t find the difference. Hence, tracking the right kind of traffic is one of the difficulties faced by brands
- Unable to understand customer’s expectations
Sharing content through dark sharing becomes more like an “invisible sharing” as you want to get an idea of your traffic type. However, when the same links for the content are shared on trackable social media platforms it’s trackable and you are able to understand better about your audience’s reading habits and what type of content they read more. Therefore, Dark social acts like a hindrance in understanding customer’s needs and expectations.
Tips to turn dark social into your advantage:
- Adding a sharing option to the post
Add an option for share at the bottom of your post. This will make sure that your readers are sharing it and you could easily track the number of shares. Simply adding a share option will lower the chances of the readers sharing links of your post via various messaging apps.
- Short sharing links for social media posts
When someone copies the link from the search bar, the share becomes intractable. So, provide shorter UTM links that form a unique URL for your post as these are easy to track. In this way, the chances for dark social sharing will cut.
- Using tracking Tools
Use tracking apps to get hold of your audience’s sharing habits. This will allow the brand owners to know how their posts are shared with the audiences and also understand what kind of content is most preferred by your readers.
The simple technique is using dark social to your advantage by tracking it using various tracking tools like getting social, Dark Social Calculator and google analytics. Though it makes tracking difficult using these tracking apps makes dark social not scary as it might sound. Using and monitoring it properly will allow various brands to understand how their content is shared with the viewers and in a long course might help you in directing more traffic to your website.