Online sharing has a dark side. It’s covert, silent and it’s almost completely untraceable. It’s also a good thing. Dark Social is any kind of inbound traffic that can’t be accounted for. This usually happens because the sharer copied and pasted a link from public point A to private point B such as on a forum, instant message, text message, email or chat.
Radium One just published the results of their survey on the subject called ‘The Light and Dark of Social Sharing – Harnessing the Power of Consumer Connections’
They discovered that 91% of consumers regularly use Dark Social channels in addition to traditional social sharing. 27% of consumers said they only share through dark channels with the percentage rising along with the average age. 46% of those over 55 use only Dark Social vs 19% of those under 35.
Globally, 69% of all sharing activity is Dark Social. 59% if you just look at the US. This is more than the combined total of Facebook and all other public sharing channels. We’re not talking about a small behavior practiced by a tiny group of people; Dark Social has the potential to drive an enormous amount of traffic.
The most talked about topics on Dark Social channels include Entertainment (80%), Careers (78%) and Travel (78%). Publicly, we’re more apt to share information related to Pets (84%), Family & Parenting (63%) and Real Estate (55%). I find that fascinating. Pets and Careers I get but it’s funny that Family and Parenting land more on the public side than the private side.
The downside to this type of sharing is that it’s harder to track. It’s easy to check Twitter for reTweets and see the Facebook shares via a social widget but how do you count the number of times someone shared a link via an instant message. (Note that Radium One does have a tool that can measure Dark Social but this post should not be considered an endorsement.)
The upside of Dark Social is that it’s highly personal which makes the sharing more valuable. Think about this: I post a link of Twitter, you follow me so you might see it and you might click it. That’s a lot of “mights”. Now you and I are on a Skype chat. I paste a link into the chat box and tell you it’s a great resource. What are you going to do? You’re going to click it. It’s 100%. You can’t miss it and you’re not going to skip it. This is the power of Dark Social.
To learn more, download the free report from Radium One.
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