It seems like a negative concept, gloomy and mysterious, but it has nothing to do with it. Dark Social can be very beneficial in boosting a marketing strategy. Therefore, know what it is and how to achieve it.
Dark Social refers to invisible web traffic, that is, visits that arrive at a page but it is not possible to know exactly what source they come from.
When we browse the Internet, for example, from our mobile and see an interesting web page that we want to share with a contact, the most common way of sending it, due to its speed and convenience, is to copy the URL and send it via WhatsApp. With this simple gesture you are already contributing to the "Dark Social".
And it is that, in channels like this, no data is transmitted and visits to a website from external sources are not easily identifiable for analytical tools. For this reason it is said to be invisible traffic, since its origin is unknown.
However, despite its difficulty in measuring, Dark Social can be a very profitable part of a company's marketing strategy.
First of all, it allows detecting what percentage of the audience is coming to a website from unknown channels. In addition, it must be taken into account that the visits received are direct recommendations, from digital word of mouth. In most cases, it is traffic derived from a close contact or a reputable source and this adds credibility and value to the website very favorably.
Likewise, the volume of visits generated by the Dark Social is also very important. As a general rule, it depends on the sector in which you work, but the traffic generated can be more than 50% on some websites. Above all, in food and beverage, travel, tourism or job search companies, where advice and suggestions are shared.
Traffic whose origin cannot be determined by default is therefore considered to be Dark Social . In addition to WhatsApp, there are other channels, such as the following, where you cannot identify where your visits come from.
- Email. Emails are one of the main means of communication in which links are also shared, especially during business hours.
- Instant messaging and chats. Apps like WeChat, Telegram, QQMobile and of course WhatsApp. They are very popular platforms due to their immediacy that are used not only to chat, but also to share content of any kind.
- Mobile applications Links shared through social networks such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram or Snapchat are also not traceable.
- Type the exact address in a browser or access the web from favourites/bookmarks.
- Use secure browsing, with HTTPS web addresses, instead of HTTP.
The links that are sent through the mentioned channels work with an encryption service, which goes from client to server and from end to end. Although they allow the user to go to a web page, there is no exchange of information. Therefore, it is not possible to extract reference data and know its origin.
Although knowing where certain visits come from is a complicated task, there are several options to measure the behavior of users on the network. Here are some tips:
- Shorten URLs. Short links can be obtained automatically thanks to tools like Bitly . In addition, this platform offers the possibility of monitoring the links and knowing different data such as the total number of clicks, the geographical distribution or the platform where it has been shared.
- Provides buttons to share the content of the page. In this way, the information disseminated can be traced, although they must be clearly differentiated from the trace buttons. They can be included both on websites and in emails.
- Create a segment in Google Analytics. Inside Audience > Summary > Add segment, add a new one. Name it Dark Social and click on “Advanced”. Then, in the "Conditions" section, create two of them.
- Finally, you can use tools for the Dark Social . These help monitor what content and how users share it.