Dark Social has a strange feeling associated with it. Kind of reminds me of Darth Vader of Star Wars or the Dark Web. However, it really isn't as creepy as it sounds.
Perhaps you have heard of it before if you are a digital marketer or if you are involved in social media marketing. Dark Social is actually the place where many shared links online go to die. Think of how many times you share a website link or a post in Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp or email. When a link is shared this way, it is missing a key element used in Google Analytics called a meta referrer tag. A very important tag that determines where your website traffic is coming from.
"The meta referrer tag works with most browsers to pass referrer information in a manner defined by the user. Traffic remains encrypted and all the benefits of using HTTPS remain in place, but now you can pass referrer data to all websites, even those that use HTTP." According to Moz's The Meta Referrer Tag: An Advancement for SEO and the Internet.
Because these links are shared in private "zones" they are unable to be tracked.
According to research from RadiumOne, this source of referrals is dominating how people share and interact with content online and accounts for over 84% of all content shared.
So... what is a brand manager to do? One way is to consider building yourself a team of micro influencers who are loyal to your brand and are highly connected. Allow them to be your broadcast voice when new products launch, you survey customers, etc. Let your imagination soar and encourage creativity among your staff.
Customers LOVE this type of engagement and if it is sent via a private message, they will feel even more important to the influencer and the brand. Ask them to PM all their friends, and so on and so on...
Perhaps this is one reason Facebook is tapping into the private message advertising arena~ Paid posts sent via messager will have their analytics tied to it.
Kathy Doering is the president of Ann Michaels & Associates. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on building a stronger brand in social media.