Dark social is a marketer’s best friend and worst nightmare. This untraceable, copy-and-paste content sharing has become one of the most popular ways of communicating to friends and family about brands (and you’ve probably done it without realizing it). More than 70 percent of social sharing is done through dark social according to Hootsuite, across various industries.1
Dark social poses a challenge to us as marketers, because we have no way to track where these visitors came from or what brought them to our site, making it harder to tailor content to specific audiences and understand what they’re responding to.
It’s important to be able to track these virtually invisible social media users. When a person comes from a copied URL link or a private text message, we’ve already lost that connection with a potential consumer.
How Dark Social Impacts Your Business
Dark social has the potential to uncover consumers’ real opinions and interests. It’s just a matter of how and where to find it. Joao Romano, Founder of GetSocial, predicted that by the end of 2019, 2.19 billion consumers globally (more than a quarter of the population) will be using various messaging apps including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, GroupMe, etc.2 These apps are underutilized and can provide a way to gain an informal following with your best consumers.
A study by Smart Insights found that 1.41 million dark social referrals have happened through Facebook in less than a year. Copywriters and social media teams can produce content around private sharing that is specific to this type of audience behavior.3
Additionally, using Google Analytics to create a custom direct traffic segment can help you discover the size of your dark social audience. Smart Insights has other options to track dark social that include doing an audit of your direct traffic or appending tags to private sharing buttons.4
How Does hfa Use Dark Social to Its Advantage?
We typically use Facebook Messenger as a personal communication touchpoint. We can send out a private chat with our Facebook followers and glean insights about them, such as why they liked our page in the first place. Not only does this help us gain a connection with our audiences, but it gives us the feedback we need to help the business grow. We’re also keeping our eye on mobile ad opportunities (specifically via WhatsApp and GroupMe, which both have plans to make ad space available) to reach our specific target audiences.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of dark social is the content itself that is shared. One of our best examples involves a virtual reality experience for Rinnai (tankless water heaters) at the International Builders’ Show (IBS). We created an experience around our “Yank the Tank” campaign–encouraging installers to use tankless instead of tank water heaters–which allowed attendees to “destroy” old water heaters and replace them with Rinnai tankless water heaters, demonstrating the ease of installation. All of this was captured as content and shared via Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms. In addition, once people go through the VR experience, they are then sent to Rinnai’s website or asked to share with a friend, creating direct traffic that we have been able to analyze.
Want to learn more? Contact hfa to learn more about dark social and how we can help you keep up.