Believe it or not, social sharing was around long before the creation of Facebook and Twitter. Before we shared everything with everyone, we forwarded emails to close friends, posted pics to chat rooms, and shared favorite websites via instant messenger.
In the current age of social networks, “old-fashioned” sharing is not only alive and well, but thriving. It’s even called something different thanks to Alexis C. Madrigal, contributing editor of The Atlantic.
Introducing Dark Social.
Named for its untraceable nature via conventional measuring methods, dark social may prove to be a boon for marketers everywhere. Especially in light of recent data showing that it’s now accountable for a majority of traffic across many media sites.
But why the increase in significance? Here are three theories.
1. Social network pressure is creating a lack of authenticity.
In his article, Madrigal states that the creation of social networks has turned conventional sharing into publishing or broadcasting. For some, the pressure to entertain, stay relevant or make money can become overwhelming, leading to a compromise of authenticity.
Looking for outlets to truly be themselves, social media users might be turning to private networks to recapture authentic expression. Any promotion via these outlets will automatically carry more weight and lead to increased traffic.
2. Social media users crave more of a personal touch to take action.
People perceiving public domain interactions as less authentic and less personal are less likely to buy into what’s being shared. Sure, they may continue to display their interest via a “Like” or “Thumbs Up,” but will they ultimately convert? Probably not.
By recapturing the personal nature of sharing, dark social offers users something they crave: a one-to-one (or one-to-few) connection. Sharing or promoting something in the dark can mean so much more to an audience and ultimately lead to real action.
3. Social media users are looking to take back their privacy.
Privacy agreements, cleverly worded and liberally interpreted, are the norm when it comes to social media. It’s causing many users to rethink what they share, or even question if they want to share in a public space at all. Dark social offers a way for users to remain social with more privacy and more control.
So, how does one make dark social work for marketing purposes?
The best advice comes from Alexis himself. Make the very best content you can, because ultimately, it’s what will drive sharing via social. Dark or otherwise.