A recent study from RadiumOne, showed that ‘Dark Social’ channels could be making up to 74% of all sharing online.
The definition of Dark Social channels is a channel that cannot be tracked through traditional web analytics. This does not mean that they will not count in the most basic analytics (visitor count etc) but beyond this their analytics will be lost.
One of the most common ways that Dark Social channels exist is when people simply copy and paste a URL address and send it to somebody on email, text or instant messaging service. When this link is clicked it will appear as an entry, but without any knowledge of why they chose to visit that site, a huge amount of data and reasoning is lost.
For instance, had the person who sent it to them seen an advert for something they were interested in? Are they likely to buy now or are they looking at future purchases?
Data of this type can present significant insight into why people are visiting a site. For instance, is it in a forum where people are complaining about an inaccuracy or campaign on the site? Is it a particular offer than has been sent in an internal email to a company? Unless this information is known, it is completely un-actionable.
The survey found that the most discussed topics on Dark Social channels are more one-to-one themes such as Property (89%), Careers (87%) and Personal Finance (83%). These are key selling points are represent a much more profitable knowledge base compared to the most commonly shared topics on social media - Pets (81%), Family & Parenting (54%) and Society (43%).
One of the easiest ways for people to do this is through the use of link shortening software when URLs are shared. This means that the link can be tracked in much the same way as a bit.ly link or similar, allowing companies to monitor how often and where people are sharing the links taken from the site and how they are being shared.
When looking at Time Inc and Marie Claire magazine ‘ They discovered that, in a typical month, there were 18,908 instances of users choosing to copy text from the Marie Claire website and share it with friends via email. This is compared with 1,747 instances of users sharing via Facebook and Twitter’.
It shows how much data could be slipping through the net, are you taking action to collect it?