What is dark social?


Dark social refers to web traffic that can’t be tracked through Web analytics programs like Google analytics. In basic terms, it refers to the traffic that comes from private social media channels such as emails and instant messaging applications like Whatsapp and Instant Messenger. Private sharing is done when users copy and paste the link to the content and share it to others through these applications.

Despite the definition not matching the sinister title, dark social is still extremely relevant, particularly for marketers within the digital universe. Dark Social dominates sharing activity online. It accounts for the majority of traffic to most websites on the web. In 2016, it was recorded that 84% of the content shared in the virtual world came from dark social which means it is something that is extremely significant as it’s accountable for the movement of users to different sites online.

What can we do about it and can it be controlled? To a certain extent, yes it can. The best thing we can do as marketers is familiarize ourselves with outbound sharing by minimizing and tracking dark social. Using the right tools can help you narrow things down. Applications like Google Analytics or other social media analytics tools can allow you to correctly understand traffic origins and therefore study their behavior and conversions. This is a key step to understanding how dark social affects you specifically.

You can also look into introducing highly visible sharing buttons on your social media channels to encourage people to share your content more.

In summary, dark social isn’t such a bad thing. However, it’s still important to measure your dark social engagement without losing track.