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Dark Social—The Invisible Salesforce that you didn’t know existed.

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Dark Social—The Invisible Salesforce that you didn't know existed


Reading time 3 minutes


by M LeMont



The engagement you can't see is 60-80% more than what you can see.


What you see in your marketing metrics is the tip of the iceberg and could lead to bad decision-making.



What is Dark Social?



Tech guru Alexis Madrigal wrote an article in 2012 for The Atlantic titled "We Have The Whole History of The Web Wrong," that's where the term "Dark Social" originated. He stated that a "vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs." He added, "Dark social encapsulates the "invisible" shares via private channels like messaging apps, email and text, or copying a link into a web browser to send to a friend.



"We're only seeing and measuring the tip of the sharing iceberg."


So, if you share a link via Twitter Direct Message, or Facebook Messenger or Slack, or native mobile apps, you're using Dark Social.


They are void from the little pieces of metadata to track their origin. Alexis explains it this way, "If you follow a link from Facebook to The Atlantic, a little piece of metadata hitches a ride that tells our servers, 'Yo, I'm here from Facebook.com.'"



Don't Be Afraid of the Dark



As marketers, we like to know where traffic is coming from. Reports show that 65%-80% of social media shares are dark.


People are sharing your links way more than you can see. They are your invisible salesforce spreading the word about your articles, products, brand, and videos, and having conversations with friends about it.


According to the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger, "Every day, the Average American engages in sixteen word of mouth episodes, separate conversations where they say something positive or negative about an organization, brand, product, or service."



The Invisible Salesforce. When people see things that interest them, they are happy to spread the word.


Consumers recommend and discuss products more than 3 billion times a day. Jonah explains, "We suggest restaurants to coworkers, tell family members about a great sale and recommend responsible babysitters to neighbors. American consumers mention specific brands more than 3 billion times a day. "This kind of social talk is like breathing. It's so basic and frequent that we don't even realize that we're doing it."



To track dark social shares, use a link tracker like bitly.com that tracks dark social clicks and see for yourself what you couldn't see before.



And like Alexis Madrigal said, although there's no way to be really 100% sure you're getting the right information when it comes to dark social, at least you know your links are being shared, so you can write better content, create better campaigns, for your Invisible Salesforce to share.


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