While the term ‘Dark Social’ evokes images of Darth Vader using social media to recruit for the Empire, the reality is—fortunately—a lot less sinister.
First coined in 2012 by Alexis Madrigal in an article published by The Atlantic, the term, in fact, refers to the increasingly common practice of sharing links to articles and products via private messages rather than in public posts on social networks. Millions of people actively engage in this every day, sending high volumes of traffic to publishers. However, links shared privately lack referral tags, which means they are extremely difficult to track. When you look at your analytics platform, these Dark Social shares show up simply as ‘direct’ traffic.
Although Google states that ‘direct’ traffic happens when users type a URL directly into their browser or click on a bookmarked site, the reality is, it’s a fallback for any source of traffic without referral data. To highlight the scale of the issue, a study by RadiumOne found that “84% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now take place via private, Dark Social channels such as email and instant messaging.”
Read the whole article here: Uncovering the mystery of dark social
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