Dark social; the ghost in the social media measurement machine

When the clock strikes midnight and the un-dead stir from their graves, it won’t be Freddie Krueger, or Pennywise the clown putting the frights into social media marketeers this Halloween.

Something far worse. Something far scarier. A social media metric that isn’t being measured.

As Social Media Examiner reports, the term picked up memento when @AndrewGrill, Kred CEO, and @jasonfalls, CEO of SME, discussed the matter at a conference earlier this month.

Dark social, also known as direct social, refers to the social sharing and traffic driving taking place behind closed analytics doors, which is to say via email or through instant messaging and chat apps on mobile.

When you consider that US paper, Atlantic, which coined the expression, can attribute more than half of site referrals to dark social, it becomes apparent that social media referrals may be slipping through the net and getting wrongly attributed to ATL, radio, PR or similar.

So, what can marketeers do to shed light on dark social? Here are three simple tips:

1)      Use trackable links – by creating individual Bit.ly links or similar for each piece of content and segregating these by channel, it becomes easier to track content travelling out to those less easy to reach places

2)      Don’t forget email – make sure email features as a social sharing button as click-throughs can easily be tracked

3)      Don’t game it – there’s no algorithm to crack here. If you want people to email and chat to each other about your content, make it good, make them actually want to share it

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