Get SpeakEasy
Why Dark Social Marketing Will Grow In 2019: Understanding 1 To 1 Social Sharing
Zach Strauss
April 5, 2019

One of the most important – yet under-discussed – topics in marketing is “dark social marketing” or “dark social” for short.  In the future, this form of marketing will be one of the most important ways that marketing professionals reach their audiences – but it’s still in its early stages. So, in this article, we’ll break down dark social, what it is, and why it matters. Let’s get started now.

Defining Dark Social Marketing

What do you think of when you hear the term “dark social marketing?” Do you picture a coven of witches, casting a curse using Facebook?

Sorry – but the truth is a bit more innocuous. Dark social marketing is simply a term used to describe one-on-one social sharing, using platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter and Instagram, and other such platforms.

It’s called “dark social marketing” because this activity is often opaque to marketers – unlike a post shared publicly on Facebook, there may be no way to track how much traffic you get from one-on-one link sharing – because most analytics programs track this traffic as coming from “direct” sources, and can’t identify any referral information.

Dark Social Is Growing At A Huge Pace

The four most popular social messaging apps – WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and QQ are used by more than 3.6 billion people. That’s more, by far, than the number of people using traditional social media accounts. In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 84% of all direct website traffic comes from one-on-one “dark social” shares.

How Can I Adapt To Dark Social Marketing?

What does this mean for your company? First, it means that you may want to rethink how people are communicating and sharing content as it relates to your brand. Is there an opportunity to leverage your team to distribute highly relevant content to their personal network and/or their clients that they communicate with on a one to one basis? 

Rather than copy-pasting the content and distributing at large, which can cause you to deliver the wrong message to the wrong person in the wrong place, you may also want to consider a more targeted approach to your sales & marketing.

Know How To Thrive In The World Of “Dark Social” Media

By understanding what drives one-on-one sharing, tracking your links, and creating easily-consumable content, you can enhance your marketing effectiveness – and prepare for the future of “dark social” media, where the majority of social sharing occurs in private spaces like group chats – rather than easily-visible online platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Meet your audience where they communicate the most.