You’ve heard the words “dark social” bandied about … but what does it really mean? Is it as mysterious as it sounds? Actually, you’ve probably been making the shift to this form of social media marketing already.
Relationship marketing expert and thought leader Jessika Phillips recently joined Agorapulse’s Social Pulse Weekly Show to share what social media managers should know about dark social.
Here are some highlights from Jessika Phillips’ appearance on Agorapulse’s weekly Facebook Live show. You can also view the entire show if you like (and which we recommend!).
What is dark social?
JP: “It’s not the dark web. Don’t worry! It’s completely different.
“What dark social ultimately is this shift that all of us are taking part in right now. (And we probably didn’t even realize it.)
“But what we’re doing is we’re spending more time communicating with each other in private ways, meaning messenger messages and direct communication.
“One-on-one with each other has overtaken what we’re spending on social. So, I’m talking like Facebook Messenger, Instagram messenger, Facebook private groups, and even email communication.
“Those one-to-one messages sent back and forth actually represent 80% of all of our traffic.”
Why is it important to know about dark social and be a part of it?
JP: “The shift is taking place where people are taking it less from putting it all out, public-facing to everyone and more.
“One-on-one, more intimate niche channels are where people are communicating with each other to share messages … and really messages about brands, too.”
How can people get more involved or learn more about dark social conversations happening?
JP: “It’s really about just understanding how your clients communicating first and what they’re wanting to communicate, one on one with each other.
“Typically, the conversations that are happening about brands are people asking for recommendations. It’s asking how they can get assistance with something.
“If we’re talking from a brand level, it’s about starting the conversation personalizing conversations and also using a mix of some automation tools like messenger marketing (or some people call them chatbots) or conversation prompters right on your website as well as on your social media tools to kind of kick-start the conversations off and get people in your clients to communicate with you and get comfortable communicating with you.
“So you, as a brand, are thinking, “How can I not make this about my brand per se but make this about my audience and create something that people want to be a part of it they feel more intimately connected together?”
“To start, share, and continue those conversations. You, as the brand, get to be the person that brought them together, so you get invited into it.”
What do you see are the biggest mistakes that companies, brands, and entrepreneurs make in relationship marketing?
JP: “There are some things that tie into dark social to where it’s making mistakes. I think we’re at a weird point where we as consumers have been spoiled, where we bought things now, and we want to be able to do it on our own, and at our own convenience—right until we don’t.
“I’m talking about like being able to fill out a form and order something online and be able to do it all on my own. I want that.
“But if something’s broken or I can’t get to that thing, I want to be able to connect with a human instantly or else I’m going to get a little frustrated.
“It’s a weird place for brands because they think, “OK, do I either go all-in on automation and all in on this high tech and just let them self serve and kind of start hiding my phone number OR do I keep it my old school way of just making it all about our people?”
“You really kind of need to have the best of both worlds because that’s what we, as consumers, really want.
“I think brands where they fail that in relationship marketing is that … they’ve only been taught to focus on getting new sales in, and that’s it.
“I feel like they really need to take a step back and realize that their marketing isn’t their marketing anymore. Their customers are the ones; they’re sharing it for them; they’re sharing it about how their experience has been with this company and really communicating with each other.
“Those are dark social conversations like we’ve been talking about.
“And then, if this is happening and the brand hasn’t been able to be part of those conversations, they really have to be able to create some really magical experiences for their audience to spark the good conversations that are going to be shared and these channels when they’re not around.
“To do this, they really have to focus on who is their ideal customer. What is their brand known for? What should it be known for? Like what doesn’t make them special and what kind of magic little bits can they add and that people would want to talk about.
“And then lastly, [brands need to know] where they want to go. So really know themselves, know their client, and then plot in or add in the special sauce (I call it ‘the craveable factor’) to make people want to come back.
“Like focus on client loyalty, instead of marketing. And once you focus on that, you really do get this good blend of ease of doing business with you, reducing some friction points of doing business with you, but also getting super-personal and really connecting and building relationships like true relationships for repeat referral business.
“So people want to cheer you on instead of you just trying to go after all the new people all the time.”
How are you currently measuring dark social? From an analytics perspective, that is a little tricky.
JP: “It’s really hard right now so unless you’re part of it you, you can’t—unless you purchase the tool to measure it. There’s only a few that are out there, like some analytics tools and some of the others are trying to catch up with this.
“But really, it’s not easy to measure unless you have something like UTM, you know, added in within each of your links or using a third-party tool.
“The only other way of measuring like your impact is knowing what you’re starting the conversations about and what the results are.
“This was actually first talked about five years ago when the shift started happening. And people were like, ‘Where’s all this traffic coming from? It’s great, but why are we getting our sales and where can we attribute this?’
“You know, it’s driving people crazy. Our analytics people are trying to measure the effectiveness, so people are scrambling to get it done.
“I don’t have like a solid right answer on how you measure it because I’m still trying to figure it out myself of how to truly attribute the conversation via impact to your website analytics!”
Social Pulse Weekly: Jessika Phillips
Watch the entire video to hear more about Jessika’s thoughts about dark social, networking, and creating craveable content:
Social Pulse Weekly brings you incredible marketing experts and today’s latest social media news and developments. Tune in every Friday at 2PM ET to keep your finger on the pulse of social media.
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