In the first post of this series, we defined the concept of dark social and took a brief look at its history. In the second post, we discussed its significance for online marketers. Now we’ll explore what you should do about it.
There’s quite a bit of helpful information out there, providing general suggestions and quick-fix solutions (until analytics tools are able to completely catch up to dark social). Below I’ve compiled some of the best resources on the subject.
ActionSprout: What can we do about dark social?
AS acknowledges that there is no single solution to dark social; however, they provide several methods to recapture some of the otherwise lost data:
- Use analytics tools that are specifically working to track dark social, such as Chartbeat.
- Use link trackers like Bitly. It tracks who shared your links and through which platform.
- Include an embedded email form on your site. This enables users to email your link while providing you with referral information.
- Add sharing buttons on your site to recapture the otherwise lost data of social sharing.
- Pay attention to user agent strings, which are provided by analytics tools. These can help you locate the source of your dark social traffic.
- As much of dark social traffic actually comes from Facebook and its mobile app, concentrate on your Facebook marketing and insights.
RadiumOne: 3 steps to act on dark social insights
- Harnessing dark social on owned media
More sharing happens in dark social than all other sharing channels combined. Advertisers & publishers need to understand the consumer decision journey, and how/why individuals choose to share content the way they do.
So after a person shares content, dark social generates clickback data (when someone clicks on a link that was shared). Harnessing this data “produces accurate insights into consumer interests and intent”.
- Implementing short URL sharing
Branded URLs (vanity domains) can help your company’s marketing, but it can also provide data such as audience analytics on clickbacks, and enable the collecting of data in a way that allows for segmentation.
- Acting on social data in real time
“The most effective and lucrative way to act on real-time social data is to use it to inform programmatic media buying. At a high level, capturing and activating social data programmatically can be done optimally with a data management and demand side platform where data and delivery are not separated.
To act on social data, the integrated platform is responsible for connecting anonymous social sharing signals with anonymous, cross-channel digital personas at scale. This persona-based view of audiences makes it possible for the platform to target personas based on real-time and historical cross-channel engagement patterns, including algorithmic social relationship patterns. With this, the integrated platform, equipped with data not available elsewhere, connects with the most valuable personas at the most opportune times.”
SocialMediaToday: 5 tools to track dark social sharing
ClickZ: A light at the end of the tunnel
Understand your audience. What are their online behaviors – who do they communicate with and how do they share content? Observe direct traffic from long and complicated URLs that users would be unlikely to remember and type directly into the browser address bar.
Set expectations. “After you’ve made the best possible determination of dark social’s volume and respective value, share that data with your team and get buy in from all parties. While it may not be 100 percent accurate, it is still better than simply ignoring this traffic or pretending that it doesn’t exist. If everyone agrees that direct traffic on long URLs can be considered dark social traffic, you can tell a more consistent story moving forward.”
Leverage tools. Use the following to track dark social sharing, increase awareness & traffic, and improve your SEO.
- Tynt, which inserts the page URL when users copy and paste content from your site.
- Rio SEO’s Social Analyze software also tracks copy and paste activity. Their code assigns a unique ID at the end of URLs, and tracks what content a user is sharing, as well as where they share it.
Social Media Examiner: Find hidden referral traffic with Google Analytics
1. Add web tracking to your website
2. Build your custom URLs
3. Shorten & publish your URL
4. Measure your results
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And that’s it for this series! How has dark social affected your digital strategy and have you found solutions for it?