Dark Thinking about Dark Social

A few weeks ago I read an article about Dark Social. To some the buzz word of 2015 – or at least at the time of publishing.

The term Dark Social was coined by Alexis Madrigal in October 2012 (that’s decades ago when you put it on the social media time scale). When analysing the statistics of his website, a newspaper, he noticed that a portion of his web visitors seemed to have come out of nowhere. They just materialised out of nothing and read a specific news article: from an unknown source, similar to Dark Matter. They hadn’t punched in the newspaper’s homepage URL nor were they coming from a search engine, Facebook or some other social network. He finally realised that they must have received a direct link via e-mail or a Skype chat or similar.

In the web traffic analyses, this group was always categorised as Other or Direct Mail, but when he noticed that this category was accounting for more than 50% of his incoming traffic, he decided to write a blog post about it. And the rest is history.

A reference to his article inspired me to start writing a post. At first it would be about the short lifespan of buzz words these days, that you’re considered old fashioned if you don’t tweet at least twice a day and that your pre-Social way of sharing information (a news article, not a video of cute puppies falling off a bed) is grouped in a dark category.

But in the end it’s not worth complaining about. The lesson learned from looking at these web analyses is that your audience may come to you because of your search engine marketing, your twittering or blogging efforts or some other way, but they’ll only recommend you to their network if they like what they’ve read or experienced. If dark social is on the rise, content will still be king, content that is believable and compelling, that informs, educates and/or engages, content that is shared via open channels or via dark social. They may even talk to a friend over the weekend or make a remark to someone at a trade show or conference… wouldn’t that be dark? 


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