Dark Social & Why We Should Embrace It

OOOO Scary! I bet that’s what many of you thought when I mentioned the words Dark Social. Some think that Dark Social is when the Night King, the Ice Dragon that he stole from Daenerys and his army are on their way to invade Winterfeil in Game Of Thrones or when Evil Emperor Zurg is planning to rule the Galactic Alliance and make Buzz Lightyear and his Space Rangers his eternal slave. No need to worry though. Dark Social isn’t when an evil person plans to bring eternal darkness to the world. What Dark Social really means is that it’s social media’s new thing and that it marks the beginning of the future of social media as we know it. In this awesome blog, I will tell you what Dark Social is and why it’s important that we embrace it.

An Overview Of Dark Social

Dark Social is a term used to describe website referrals that go through private social media platforms that are not trackable by analytics programs such as Google Analytics. That creates a challenge for digital marketers in trying to find out exactly where their referral traffic comes from. Great examples of Dark Social platforms are email, text messages and private messaging apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. In a 2012 article by The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal famously coined the phrase “Dark Social” where he discovered that over half of The Atlantic’s social traffic came from dark referrals while also finding out that other websites have an even larger percentage of social traffic coming from Dark Social. To find out how much Dark Social traffic your site has, the awesome folks at Disruptive Advertising describe three great ways to do just that with my personal favorite being the Dark Social Calculator. No doubt that dark social is on the rise and it’s important for businesses, especially small businesses, to embrace the fast-evolving world that is Dark Social. In this next section, I will tell you exactly why Dark Social is on the rise and why it’s important for businesses to embrace it.

Why We Should Embrace Dark Social

When it comes to the rise of Dark Social, a huge reason why that’s the case is that people are valuing privacy now more than ever. That’s especially the case for younger audiences like Millennials and Gen-Z. It’s no surprise that Dark Social platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp are becoming increasingly popular with these generations. I know that for a fact since my own niece uses Dark Social platforms like Snapchat and even convinced me to get a Snapchat which I now absolutely enjoy. Not to mention that 84% of outbound sharing occurs via Dark Social channels as reported by RadiumOne and by many Digital Marketing companies. With that being said, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to get ahead of the game and embrace Dark Social while making it a big part of their marketing strategy. The way they go by doing that is by understanding the behavior of the younger generations while also knowing the effective strategies on how to properly reach out to them via Dark Social networks.

How To Effectively Communicate To Your Audience Via Dark Social

When it comes to interacting on Dark Social platforms, we must learn that these are informal settings in terms of how people communicate with each other. What we must do to capture the attention of your target audience via Dark Social is to think outside the traditional mindset when it comes to marketing your brand. One of the biggest cardinal rules when marketing your brand via Dark Social is to never go for the sale immediately right off the bat. Instead, focus on creating content that brings value to your target audience. There are many good ways to provide value and build up your Dark Social traffic. Beginning an online conversation is a great way to start. That can be done by asking a question or sharing a poll about which products would you use in a particular situation or how well do you rate a certain personal experience with a product or service. My personal favorite is sharing an interactive video showcasing a product or inviting people to a big event like a cupcake and pastry drive. In other words, share content that speaks to the mind of your target market and gets their attention. In addition to sharing quality content, you also want to make content sharing much smoother and less roomy when it comes time to share. Dark Social users are much more likely to share shorter links that take up very little space than they would larger links. You also will increase your chances of seeing more traffic on your website. A great example of how to shorten your links is to use the tool that smallseotools.com uses. If you can follow these tips when it comes to using Dark Social, then you’re on your way to success when it comes to one-upping your Dark Social game.

You’ve Reached The Dark Side

No doubt that when it comes to the future of social media, Dark Social will be a big part of it. It’s basically a must to embrace Dark Social while learning all there is to know about how to best communicate your brand via Dark Social platforms. The keys to success when it comes to Dark Social are to know your audience as is the case in any marketing situation and to communicate with them via authenticity. Each audience on Dark Social has a different mindset so it’s important to tailor your marketing strategies to capture the attention of your target audience. By doing all these things, you will have big time success in the fast-evolving world that is Dark Social. With that being said, I’d like to welcome you to the Dark Side. I promise you that we have cookies and I’ll even throw in some tacos for extra fun. 😉

I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Cydney Hatch of Disruptive Advertising and Caz Bevan of Be Impossible and NPAccel for inspiring me to write this blog about a subject they’re really big on. They really help us all be better when it comes to Digital Marketing.

What do you feel is a recipe for success when it comes to Dark Social? Questions? Comments? Feel free to share this article & don’t be afraid to share your thoughts below.

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