Dark Social: Why You’re Missing the Boat and How to Fix It

social media marketing

The effect social media has had on marketing certainly cannot be denied. Yet while social media grows increasingly popular, marketers continually run the risk of ignoring an online venue with massive potential. This channel is one in which products and services are frequently recommended, and is in fact where most content is actually shared.

While it might seem impossible that marketers would ignore such a veritable goldmine, that is precisely what is happening, and the reason is that it is virtually invisible and unmeasurable.

Known as dark social, these private digital communication channels include text messages, email, instant messaging, and apps, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, that have a tremendous impact on sharing. Marketers might be surprised to find that this invisible form of social media represents three times the sharing compared to traditional social media sites like Facebook, according to a report published by Forbes.

While users might not be so apt to recommend a brand on social media, they frequently do share links with a select group of friends and family over their favorite messaging or texting service. It happens all the time, and this type of sharing represents a powerful form of marketing.

Such sharing is effective, and there is practically a guarantee that it will be seen. It’s also incredibly relevant and has a trust factor that even the most well-planned marketing programs cannot replicate. Furthermore, these types of recommendations typically lead to the greatest level of action.

So, what can brands do to make sure they are taking full advantage of dark social?

Begin by identifying why people are most likely to share and recommend your business to people they know. Take care not to make any assumptions. Do not think for your customers. Instead, take the time to ask them and listen to their responses.

Next, create a place where fans of your brand can endorse it. Known as advocates, these are the people who are willing to actually recommend your brand and encourage others to use it. By building a portal where your brand advocates can access and share content, you will make it much easier for them to act as an ambassador. Finally, reward those customers who take the time to recommend your brand.

Hidden marketing channels may be nearly impossible to track, but that certainly does not negate their importance. Taking the time to understand word-of-mouth advocacy gives you yet another avenue for reaching new customers.