Industry Buzzwords Column #6: Dark Social

It’s been a while since our last Buzzwords Column, but in our latest, we look at the world of ‘dark social’ – and how marketers can tap into this unknown part of the web.

In a nutshell, dark social is about our link-sharing habits in the social sphere, that analysts can’t currently observe. One of the reasons for this is the privacy settings of certain content on social media, like online chat, forums, emails and personal messages, but it’s worth mentioning that some bots are sophisticated enough to ‘read between the lines’ and pick out key bits of information (think related ads on Gmail when typing an email, or Facebook’s ability to search for links in private messaging). The statistic found for the amount of people who use dark social, thanks to RadiumOne’s research, is staggering – a third of the world’s population, and a quarter of those in the UK. And, around 59% of sharing happens in the dark social world. Usually, this activity is about interests like art, entertainment and careers, while above-the-surface social media is more geared towards pets, family and housing. So, what can be done to get a better understanding of dark social – and how to manage it?

1.     Use Google Analytics
There’s really no better way to track site hits than Google’s famous software.

2.     Get better calls to action
By negating the bog standard ‘share this’ button in favour of ones tailored to your audience, you can encourage shares done on the surface, rather than un-measurable ones from the depths of dark social.

3.     Check the web address
If analytics pull up a popular page with an excessively long URL, it’s likely it was copied and pasted in or clicked on through a share, rather than manually typed into the address bar.

4.     Deny copy and paste
Either this, or use code that means when someone pastes your content, it automatically adds a snippet of where the information came from. Failing that, there’s tools you can use to track what bits are being copied and pasted from your site, like Tynt.