70% of Social Sharing is Mobile, Private and Absent From Your Business’ Data

Social Media Week

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The explosion in mobile messaging and private sharing has largely increased the impact of dark social. This impact is something that traditional web analytics are unable to measure.

Brewster Stanislaw, Head of Attribution at Simply Measured, talks about ways in which you can measure dark social and the importance that knowledge of dark social data has on an organization’s success.

“When people are clicking URLs and sharing URLs within chat apps, they arrive with no referral. Thus, they’re direct traffic driven by social. That’s a lot of people driving traffic in a way you’re not measuring today,” explains Brewster Stanislaw.

Statistics have shown that 70% of social sharing is dark. “If you’re counting sharing numbers, you’re missing 70% of that. “Think about how often you’re texting, emailing, or chatting? That is the dominant paradigm for sharing and it’s something we miss entirely,” mentions Brewster Stanislaw. Furthermore, 50% of social traffic is dark.

Stanislaw states, “If you have a goal of driving traffic to the dot com from your social efforts and you’re reporting on that, you’re missing 50% of the value you’re creating if you’re not measuring dark social.”

Not only is social sharing and social traffic dark, but 50% of your social sales also are driven by dark. “It’s that digital word of mouth. That is a very powerful recommendation because it tends to be peer to peer, private, within a social graph. They actually drive and influence behavior on sites. If you have a goal of driving traffic or driving conversion value on your site from social, you’re missing out on a lot of the value that’s been created,” claims Stanislaw.

According to Stanislaw, the shift from public to private sharing has lead to an absence of valuable data for social marketers. “Not everything you want to share is something you want to post publicly to Facebook. It’s really the dominant way that people share– more so than even some of the public sharing. This is really important data that you can use to optimize the things you do control.”

The solution to tracking dark social? URL hash fragments. “What that does is essentially uniquely identifies every URL in the browser. Now, you have unique shares around unique URLs. It has no impact on SEO. Google’s page rank algorithm ignores the hash fragment,” states Stanislaw.

BuzzFeed is an example of a company that successfully tracks dark social sharing. “They track how much traffic it ultimately drives and when they see it creates a spike, they’ll put it in their own channels,” explains Stanislaw.

Reid Armbruster, Director of Social & Digital Communications at Audible, warns against publishers using messaging apps as platforms. “The reason people share things on dark social is because they’re private, safe places where people can share things. As soon as you start advertising on those platforms, people are going to flee and find somewhere else to do it. They want to be able to do these things in a way that allows meaningful, thoughtful, one on one communication.”


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Mahin Rahaman

Talent Acquisition, PR, and Marketing Intern, Omnicom Health Group


Mahin Rahaman is currently a student at NYU studying Media, Culture, and Communications. She is currently a PR & Talent Acquisition Intern at the Omnicom Health Group and a Freelance Journalist and Copywriter for various publications. She also holds the position as Vice President of Chapter Development for NYU Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and Vice President of Marketing for the NYU Commuter Student council. When she's not analyzing her peers' consumer habits, you can find her binge watching Netflix and obsessively planning out her entire future.

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