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BizReport : Social Marketing : December 01, 2014

Sharing via 'dark social' outstrips all social channels combined by three-to-one

Just how much online sharing activity takes place via 'Dark Social' channels? A significant amount, according to new research from RadiumOne. So much so that marketers need to pay attention to such behavior to get a better insight into their total audiences.

by Helen Leggatt

Dark Social plays havoc with a website's analytics. In a nutshell, inbound traffic arriving at a website that can't be attributed to a source is referred to as Dark Social. Channels associated with Dark Social include instant messaging, email and even forums where URLs are copied and pasted.

New research by RadiumOne, published in their report 'The Light and Dark of Social Sharing: Harnessing the Power of Consumer Connections' has revealed that three-quarters (74%) of all online sharing activity in the UK takes place via Dark Social channels - a significant amount when compared with 19% of sharing via Facebook and 7% on all other social channels combined.

A whopping 93% of consumers globally use Dark Social channels, alongside social channels, when sharing information online (91% in the UK), and a quarter (32%) globally and 26% of UK consumers only share via Dark Social.

According to the report, the "honesty" of Dark Social data means it can provide valuable insights and provide brands with an "incredibly accurate picture" of a sharer's interest and, therefore, intent to purchase.

"Dark Social is simply too big to ignore; sharing in the dark outstrips Facebook and all other social channels combined by three-to-one, yet many brands are currently unable to understand this untapped audience," says Rupert Staines, MD Europe at RadiumOne. "Acting on Dark Social presents a huge opportunity for brands to improve their ROI from their social media and digital marketing investments."

While social sharing buttons now adorn many websites, many are not using them. Instead, marketers should employ tools that will enable the tracking of copy/paste sharing and click-backs and allowing auto-inserts of original URLs.

Tags: analytics, dark social, marketing, social network, social sharing

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