Mobile Campaigns

Dark Social – Supercharge Your Mobile Campaign

What if you could tap into a distribution channel that was three times the size of Facebook, increase the odds of your content being read and collect analytics that help you understand exactly what your mobile customers want from you?  That channel is called Dark Social and you should ignore it at your own risk.  

Recent studies on social sharing revealed interesting data about how Australians share online and mobile content. A recent AdNews survey showed that 75% of content sharing was done privately. It’s called dark social. Coined in 2012, it is defined as when readers share content by copying and pasting the link into private emails, texts, and instant messages. This type of media never carries through a social network.

The AdNews study showed that a startling 71% of those participating in dark social sharing are doing so from a mobile device. With mobile devices being used as the primary dark sharer, it’s also important to recognise how personal it makes the content shared. This means people directly share content with those they’re close to, which increases the level of the content’s endorsement. Apart from this astounding data, a RadiumOne study suggested that 32% of people only share content via dark social. Content shared in this manner is almost always high-quality, niche information. Users share privately because it’s applicable, specific to the recipient, and chosen for a reason.   For marketers, dark social is invaluable, because it represents a medium where your content is purposefully opened on private devices.  This makes your content more powerful.  

Dark social is an untapped resource for marketers. Most companies think public shares are paramount, because more shares mean more potential views. But if 75% of media sharers are dark sharers, and 100% of dark social recipients truly engage with content, then this might be the most powerful form of social media there is.   By tapping into dark social, you can see what captures your consumers’ attention in real time. and understand which elements of your marketing strategy are most attractive for sharing.

For mobile campaigns, dark social is a powerful analytics tool.  Nearly 3/4 of dark social sharing happens on mobile devices, which means dark social can be a strong indicator of what content appeals to mobile customers.  Knowing what content is most often shared by mobile users allows you to cater your mobile campaign messaging to be specific to them and their context.

But if content is shared privately, how do you track it?  Dark social has implications for content marketing, native advertising and campaign measurement generally. How do you know if content within your web or mobile campaign is being shared privately, and how can you track, measure and encourage more dark sharing?   One way is to use link shorteners to identify where content is being shared from. By shortening all outbound website links, you create a unique, trackable link that’s also easy to share. You might also like to create a quick button that allows readers to instantly copy your web link to their clipboard.  Creating unique URLs for every outbound link to a content or campaign element, means you can track every time that unique link is accessed and identify what’s being shared privately.  By analysing traffic to these unique links, publishers can curate their top content for targeting advertisers and marketers can identify the content and pages that are most relevant and sharable for mobile customers.  Knowing what percentage of your content is dark social and which channels are most successful at generating dark social shares gives you an edge over competitors.

Privately shared content is a personal endorsement because it’s intended for one recipient.   It can be costly and complex to create one to one content and advertising that targets individual customers with unique messaging.  Dark social is one to one messaging of your existing content, carried out by your existing audience, on your behalf.  By tracking and measuring dark social shares, you tap into your brand’s word of mouth and increase the odds that your content will be read and accessed.  

In Australia, dark social sharing is three times the size of Facebook.  By having comprehensive knowledge of dark social and accounting for it properly, you can build better content and create digital and mobile campaigns that better cater to your audience.

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