Around the globe, thousands upon thousands of people commit a dark social act every second. You will not see them, nor will you find them. You will not catch them in the act.
Experts in deception, they are impossible to detect. Operating both in broad daylight and dimly lit rooms, train station platforms, busy offices and even right in front of your face: it could be me. It could be your boss. It could be your Mother. In fact, it’s probably all of them.
More to the point, it’s probably you.
Not only does dark social sound like some sneaky, back door operation (akin to something between ‘Anonymous’ clicktivists and the French Resistance depicted on Allo Allo); it also fills anybody who is unaware of it with dread when you tell them thatthey’ve definitely done it and that it refers to sharing on the Internet.
“I PAY FOR MY MUSIC!” They screech. “I ONLY USE NETFLIX!”
Don’t worry; we’re not talking about that type of sharing.
Dark social refers to the abundance of web traffic that cannot be traced to a known source. For those who aren’t savvy with web analytics, it boils down to the hits a web page receives that haven’t come from some sort of share function.
Consider the viral articles you see on Facebook and similar. Once you follow the link, it takes you back to the article original source (often some sort of content factory like Buzzfeed).
If you were to share that article with your friends by pressing one of the social media buttons on the bottom, Buzzfeed would be able to trace how far their article is spreading and where most of their hits are coming from.
If instead, you chose to copy and paste the URL at the top of the page into an email or a direct message to show your friends… Well, congratulations. Buzzfeed can’t see that. You would have just participated in a dark social act, you sneaky web pirate.
As the way we harness web analytic data becomes increasingly sophisticated, the focus on dark social is growing. For those in marketing, it’s a little bit like knowing you’re near the biggest oil well anybody has ever found but not knowing where to mine, or how to get it out.
Though limited ways of measuring dark social activity have been established, the race is on across the globe to be able to truly harness that data – and Liquid’s digital marketing team are getting involved.
As per our brief on Tuesday morning, we’ll be donning our Harris Tweed capes and magnifying glasses to try and crack the case of dark social.
If you would like to talk to us about how dark social could be affecting your web traffic, one of our digital whiz kids can help. Call or email us today.