Who Said Dark Social Had to Be So … Dark?

dark social media traffic

Technology is constantly developing and the way we communicate is changing every day, especially through social media. Thousands of articles and links are being shared on social media platforms by the minute and that’s not even the half of it. Sharing content through private channels such as email and online chats is also becoming an increasingly larger part of social media sharing, making it almost impossible to track dark social and website traffic. By understanding private sharing and learning how to use it to your advantage, you will likely be able to increase your website traffic and easily track dark social.

What Exactly is Dark Social?

When was the last time you texted someone a link to a funny article? Or emailed your mom a recipe she might like? Well, say hello to dark social, the process of sharing content outside of what can be measured and tracked using traditional methods. Simply put, any content, including links, articles and photos, that is shared through third-party or private channels, such as text messaging, messaging apps, online chats or email is all contributing to dark social. Dark social has become such a big part of content sharing that almost 84% of all on-site shares are shared through private channels.

The private sharing of content is much harder to track than content being shared publicly through social media platforms. Dark social is also typically marked as ‘direct’ traffic and is likely responsible for a big percentage of your website traffic.

Dealing with Dark Social

Although dark social can’t exactly be avoided, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so dark. Incorporating dark social to your social strategy may even get you ahead of the game. Here are three ways you can use dark social effectively.

  1. Improving Sharing Options

Sharing content through private channels, specifically through email, isn’t going away any time soon. There’s something much more personal about receiving an email with a link from someone you know. Think about it: are you more likely to click on a link sent directly to you or a link you found scrolling through your Facebook timeline? By adding a “share via email” option to your content, your website traffic will increase and can be easily tracked.

  1. Understanding Demographics

Dark social reaches unique demographics regarding social sharing. According to a study done by RadiumOne, almost 46% of users aged 55 and older share content only through dark social. By understanding these demographics, you will be able to target your message specifically to be shared through dark social.

  1. Creating Great Content

Of course, creating content that people will want to publicly share on their social media profiles is the best way to minimize dark social traffic in the first place. Make your content interesting and relevant to ensure your content gets shared on trackable social platforms. Qualified advertising agencies are experts in creating unique and interesting content that will stand out among the rest.

How Can You Track Dark Social?

Another way of dealing with dark social is to track it. Dark social might not be the ideal way you want your content to be shared, but it’s still going to happen. By tracking dark social, you will be able to measure your content shares and website traffic driven through private channels.

One way to track dark social is to use shortened URLs which will enable you to track real-time clicks. Using link shorteners, such as bit.ly and ow.ly, will also give you analytics on clicks through private channels. Adding a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) code or parameter tag to your link will also help brighten up your dark traffic.

There are also tools, such as Google Analytics, that enable you to create an advanced segment to track dark social. Some other tools, including GetSocial.io, ShareThis and Po.st are also helpful when trying to track dark social traffic.

Conquering your fear of the dark and using dark social to your advantage isn’t easy, but that’s why we’re here to help. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service digital marketing agency located in Orlando, Florida. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to deliver custom content, persuasive online ads and expertly crafted campaigns. By implementing valuable and shareable digital content strategies, Appleton can create the perfect social and online marketing experience for your brand and audience. Your Internet advertising goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or info@appletoncreative.com.

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