It’s proving to be one of the most dominant challenges of social media marketing in 2017, but what is dark social?

Delving in to the world of this dark art can leave you feeling baffled by algorithms and analytics, so here’s a rundown of 5 things you need to know about the channel that has marketers running for cover!

  1. Dark social = people who hear about you on social media, end up on your website, but have got a little distracted along the way. 

Here’s the scenario.

A customer sees a post on social media that grabs their attention, but instead of clicking on the link in the post or bio, they share that link with people via Whatsapp or Messenger.

Somewhere along the line they eventually head to your website, but this web visit is no longer categorised as coming from social media.

This visitor will show in Google Analytics as Referral or Direct traffic, even though they may have never otherwise heard of your business, that website visit or even sale won’t be attributed to your social media efforts.

  1. This is bad news for business owners, really annoying for brand marketers and the stuff of nightmares for social media marketeers.

OK so it’s 2017, we all know social media is a vital channel in our marketing mix, it’s not that we necessarily have to prove its worth anymore but it’s still so important to know what marketing tactics are working best for your business.

How can you properly plan resource and build marketing strategies if you don’t actually know how you’re generating enquiries and sales?

  1. Around 70% of social sharing occurs via dark social. 

That’s a huge number!

And it tells us that not only do you have no idea how you’re acquiring much of your oh so valuable website visitors, but you also have no idea how well your social media content is performing.

That hilarious meme may have only received 5 likes but it actually sent 100 people to your website…who knew!

Likewise, it’s also important to understand how your audience want to communicate with your brand. This is where chatbots come in – creating engagement with your customers via social media but not in public.

  1. Link shortening is a good start…

Tools like Bitly and Hootsuite’s Owly allow you to shorten links (which is useful in ensuring links appear neater and reduce post length), and this allows tracking of traffic to an extent i.e. you can see the number of people using that link within a social post but it still won’t account for web traffic that’s been diverted by dark social channels.

Take this a step further by creating UTM links which add a code to your URL, tracking the source of that visit. UTM links work with tools like Google Analytics so by implementing these links you’re one step closer to monitoring the engagement between web and social.

  1. But essentially, good tracking software is essential.

The final challenge is how best to connect all of these dots. You’re tracking people clicking on social post links through shortening tools, and you’re adding UTM’s to track the source of your traffic but how do you align all of this insight to clearly understand the role of dark social in your marketing? By using a tracking tool, that’s how.

Here are some recommended tracking tools that are worth a look…

Simply Measured

Po.st

Get Social