New research shines a light on dark social

June 15, 2016

Dark social doesn’t always get much mind from marketers – but that could be about to change. A new study reveals that over three-quarters (77%) of publishers’ or marketers’ content shared via mobile phones takes place via private channels such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

The research by RadiumOne, which involved aggregating the actions of some 940 million users, suggests that if someone stumbles upon a great piece of content while on their mobile, they are more than likely to share it over private channels– just 23% said they share mobile content via public social networks.

What else can we learn from the findings? Here are some key takeaways:

1. Your content might be more popular than you thought

If you’re judging your content based on social media analytics, you might be underestimating its performance and effectiveness in getting people familiar with your brand.  RadiumOne’s research reveals that 80% of UK mobile clickbacks are happening via dark social channels, which wouldn’t be picked up by traditional web analytics programs.

2. Smartphone-friendly content is essential

Another finding from the report is that smartphones account for 64% of the times people click on a link shared in dark social. So make sure your website is properly mobile-friendly – ensuring that your content is a joy to read when being viewed on the smaller screen.

3. It might be time to re-think your social media budget

RadiumOne’s latest figures show that globally, 84% of all sharing is happening outside of public social networks. However, this doesn’t tally too well with eMarketer’s research, which revealed that over 90% of social and sharing marketing investment is still going to public social networks. Should firms be thinking twice before increasing their social media budget? There’s an argument to say that they should be looking to harness dark social sharing behaviour as well.

4. It IS possible to track dark social

It’s always been the belief that dark social cannot be measured. However, that’s all about to change, according to RadiumOne.

“The many channels and platforms consumers use to share the things that matter to them, and the behaviour around this, is evolving by the day,” says the company’s European managing director, Rupert Staines.

“It’s becoming increasingly complex and harder for brands to keep up with the fast pace of consumers. However, brands can harness sharing technology to allow them to take a channel and platform agnostic approach to keeping up with consumers.”

Could dark social soon be coming into the light?

Dan Vivian - Business Development & Marketing Director