Shedding Some Light on the Concept of Dark Social

By March 16, 2017Blog, Marketing

Shedding Some Light on the Concept of Dark Social

Originally addressed by Alexis C. Madrigal in her 2012 article, “Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong” for The Atlantic, the term “dark social” points to the sharing of content through social media platforms from outside sources that are not trackable by analytics platforms. So in other words, visitors coming to a specific business’ website via an email link are not visible to those companies and as such, they have no source to provide insight as to where those visitors might have originally came from.

So why does this even matter for the fintech industry? For starters, it impacts the quality of your marketing intelligence. With business websites now functioning as virtual storefronts, it is akin to traditional brick and mortar retailers asking customers how they heard about them. Without an understanding of where a website visitor originated, companies are unable to gather the necessary data to accurately gauge how specific pieces of information, products or platforms are resonating in the eyes of the end user.

Why is Some Social Dark?

Today’s social media users are interested in having direct interaction with other users through platforms like Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Instagram, etc. They want the ability to directly reach out to a friend and have them respond in real time. While this has taken communication to a whole new level, for company’s marketing efforts, it has eliminated the ability to track web traffic originating from these platforms.

In addition to these SMS and chat-style applications, email, private browsers and native mobile apps also present the same issues for measuring marketing efforts. Whereas known channels provide specific trackable tags for analysis, dark social platforms only include trackable links if the link being shared includes the accompanying tag.

This all may sound a bit confusing, but there are clear work arounds to ensure trackable links provide you with the information you need to measure the success (or failure) of your website.

How to Illuminate Dark Social

In all honesty, the name “dark social” has much more bark than bite based on the tools available to today’s fintech companies.

While we’ve established that the way links are shared specifically correlates to the information that can be gathered from each visitor, some of today’s most popular social platforms do not allow users to click links. Take SnapChat for example. When viewing someone’s story, whether it is an individual or a company itself, attempting to click on a link will close the user’s story altogether with no action taken. So how can companies capitalize on the popularity of these platforms to drive users to their websites?

One successful work around is to leverage shortened links. Whether through applications like goo.gl or bit.ly, providing your target audience with a short, concise link will enable you to track exactly where they came from. Sticking with the SnapChat example, users can then easily screenshot the shortened link as you share it in your story, or quickly remember it and type it into their browser.

By leveraging these shortened links in outbound marketing, you can get a clearer picture of how your efforts are shaping up by utilizing the enhanced analysis tools that come with these programs. Additionally, this gives you the opportunity to continue tapping into new platforms frequently visited by your customers. In the end, being able to get a clearer picture of what works and what doesn’t work from a marketing standpoint across every platform will enhance your level of success and positively impact the customer experience.

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