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Dark Social

· Strategic Marketing,Digital Marketing,B2B Marketing,Data Marketing,Dark Social

We’ve heard the term “Dark Social” circulating for a while, which has led us to find out more about the Dark Social problem, and how, as marketers, to combat it. Based on our research, here are some things you should know.

What is Dark Social?

Think about how your content is shared online.

If your audience uses a copy and paste function to share your content, chances are your online content tracking is not an accurate reflection of the total traffic and engagement you are getting.

"Dark Social" is the term for the channels where marketing content is shared privately or is encrypted. This happens in situations where URLs are copied and shared through emails, text message, direct messages, secure browsing and messenger apps; or in native apps like SnapChat which do not provide any shareable nor clickable links or buttons.

How much is Dark Social a problem for marketers?

Today we measure engagement via sharing data on social media platforms, Google/website analytics and from the number of clicks of share buttons.

We still cannot measure data from a copy and paste function.

Dark Social jeopardises analytics results, as marketers increasingly overlook the traffic coming from these private channels, skewing results and not truly reflecting organic traffic from communication efforts.

RadiumOne reported that Dark Social channels are responsible for over 84% of the content shared online in 2016.

Download their full 2016 report here:

GetSocial reported that only 15% of content sharing happens via the sharing button, leaving 85% of sharing activities to copying and pasting of a URL through Dark Social channels.

Kevin Gibbons, from BlueGlass tested the popular means of content sharing for his company's blog and provided the following analysis based on the shareability of content:

Other Dark Social channels include messenger giants WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.

So, with this in mind, how much of your own marketing efforts are being lost to Dark Social?

Combatting Dark Social

Tracking Dark Social traffic unravels new data to marketers to better justify ROI on communication activities and optimise digital marketing strategy.

Here are some suggestions to help track better:

Use WhatsApp Business/ Facebook Messenger/ WeChat

Business profiles in mesenger apps are increasing in popularity as they can facilitate leads, have direct communication with your customers and can help with better tracking. The newest contending Business app by WhatsApp is set to change the landscape of business messaging. Find out more here.

Direct competitor WeChat, however, was the first to introduce its business messaging features. Read more here.

Google Analytics

Dark Social activity is labelled as "direct traffic" in Google Analytics. It is useful to filter unknown traffic into smaller segments to minimise the chances of Dark Social traffic being labelled as "direct traffic". The step-by-step process can be found here .

Dark Social Tracking Tools

There are tools on the Internet that enables marketers to track Dark Social traffic such as and .

Shorterning direct URLs can also cease content sharing on emails, social platforms, websites and native apps like SnapChat. Links placement in these channels allows for traceable clicks. Shorten yours links at ease with , , and .


Find out more here.

We hope this summary is useful in breaking down Dark Social and we welcome your thoughts and comments, and any updated links relevant to this topic.