Fluent Forward

What Is Dark Social and how does it relate to your marketing efforts?

Dark Social is a term that has been around since 2012 but in recently months and years has been deservedly getting a lot more interest.

Dark Social is a term used by marketers to define web traffic that comes from social channels that is typically very hard to track.

If you are running and ad campaign then these will measure various things like click through rate, conversion rate, page views etc, but on dark social a lot of the activity is not directly trackable.

Today, B2B buyers are highly active, sharing links via a number of channels that are not directly measurable.

These can include:

  • Sharing links and content on social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram
  • Sharing on content platforms such as Podcasts or YouTube
  • Public groups and communities e.g. Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups
  • Employee collaboration platforms e.g. Slack, Microsoft Teams
  • Word of mouth – in meetings, face to face
  • Events – meetups, conferences, private and public events
  • Messaging apps e.g. WhatsApp, LinkedIn Messenger, Facebook Messenger, email

All of these channels are tools that people use when researching problems, solutions to those platforms and tools they may want to adopt.

The challenge is that many businesses over emphasise direct attribution and therefore miss out on the opportunity to make the most of these channels that are harder to measure yet often are a more important part of the buyers decision making process.

Too many marketers are led astray by ad platforms convincing you that their metrics are more important and that you should try to optimise the conversion rate or click through rate, or whatever it is that they are presenting to try and keep you on their platform and investing more spend with them.

Research has shown that up to 84% of content sharing to a publishers website can happen on these dark social channels.

These presents a massive opportunity for any B2B business serious about building trust, engagement and a connection with their target audience.

Due to the lack of direct attribution, to successfully adopt a strategy that leverages dark social will require you to put less emphasis on qualified leads as the indicator of success.

Instead of this, there are some others things you should be looking for to gauge success, including:

  • Website traffic – is more traffic generally landing on your website
  • High intent web pages – are more people spending more time on high intent pages on your website such as the call to action to book a demo or book a call to learn more
  • Self-reported information – when prospects to end up on a demo or call with you, ask how they have heard about your brand and on which channels
  • How much to prospects already know about you or your approach? In conversation with them you will find out how much they have been exposed to your content and ideas that you are trying to anchor content around

If you are new to dark social and are looking to see what impact it could have on your marketing efforts, I would suggest talking to your buyers about this topic. Learn more about their buying and decision making behaviours and then experiment.

Identify some channels you want to evaluate and run some small-scale experiments to rapidly gather feedback to assess the channel, see if your audience is engaging on that channel and whether they are receptive to your message.

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