Dark Social - The Dark Horse you should be betting on
Let's talk about “Dark Social” for a minute. What is it? Why does it matter to your business? How can you take advantage of it?
What is Dark Social?
At its core, Dark Social is a term used to describe the occurrence of social interactions, often online, that take place outside of the view of digital ad technology and are therefore not easily trackable. Think organic conversations, direct messaging, emails, slack, WhatsApp, even the conversations at a networking event or between friends after work.
These "dark" conversations are where a huge number of people get recommendations, learn about new products, and even start making buying decisions. In fact, according to a study by RadiumOne, 69% of all social sharing activity takes place through Dark Social channels with 95% of people rating friends and family as the MOST influential source of information in their buying decisions.
Unfortunately, one of the main challenges with Dark Social is that it is difficult to accurately attribute revenue to these interactions. This is because traditional analytics tools are not able to track these conversations the way they can track interactions that take place through paid digital ads or related tech. More importantly, until recently it has been impossibly difficult for brands to deliberately and predictably generate these kinds of natural interactions that fall within the "Dark Social" category.
Unique discount codes, affiliate links, and special offers can help the process along, but the larger issue is the question of how to actually drive the conversations in a way that is reliable and beneficial to a brand or company.
Why does it matter to my business?
As we’ve already mentioned, a vast majority of people are far more influenced by their friends and family when it comes to their discovery of new products and their decision to make purchases. This means that the most impactful point of demand generation happens without a brand’s involvement or awareness in any capacity. The metrics most companies track show the point of demand capture. This is relevant no matter the industry–even in the B2B space, the problem is the same. According to data from Refine Labs, up to 80% of revenue is often reported as having come from paid search, but when asking clients where they actually learned about the company and its offerings, they found that a shocking 95% of the true source of revenue came from Dark Social sources. Thus, these reporting tools completely failed to capture the events that preceded and directly brought about the searches.
Think about it like this: Michelle is interested in buying a new jacket. She sees her friend Amber wearing an absolute stunner of a winter coat and asks where she can also buy one. Amber tells her not only where, but gives a glowing review right then. Michelle goes home, searches the exact brand of the jacket, sees an ad, clicks and buys.
According to the report, SEM was the source of the sale… but we know the actual source of the sale was the discussion with Amber. At a very basic level, that’s what we’re talking about. The fact is, most interest in brands and their products–and ultimately the demand itself–is established at a point that is far outside the moment of demand capture. INSERT STAT (From Gartner).
It is worth noting, however, that there is a natural attribution bias that results from the difficulty in tracking Dark Social. This means that it can be easy for companies to over- or under-estimate the impact that Dark Social is having on their business. It is important for companies to be aware of this bias and to take steps to mitigate it as much as possible.
Not convinced yet? Here are a few stats to further illustrate the impact Dark Social can have on a business.
A study by ShareThis found that Dark Social accounted for 84% of all outbound sharing activity.
A survey by Adobe found that 55% of all online traffic comes from Dark Social sources.
A study by the Content Marketing Institute found that 79% of marketers believe that Dark Social is important for their business, but only 27% feel like they have a good understanding of how to measure its impact.
Ultimately, this is a significant factor in the customer journey which can have its own significant impact on a company’s bottom line. Yes, tracking and attributing revenue to Dark Social can be challenging, but the fact of the matter is that if most companies are playing in the “demand capture” side of the pool, the companies that focus on actual demand generation will take their markets by storm to become the leaders. Dark Social and using your own customers to market for you is the fastest and by far the most effective way to win market share and mindshare.
So How Do You Take Advantage of Dark Social?
Your customers. We’ve already covered customer engagement, loyalty, and influence at length in previous articles, but the short version is that your single best source for finding and converting new customers is your current customers when mobilized at scale. In fact, friends and family are 10x as impactful as traditional influencer marketing, and traditional influencer marketing is already many times more impactful than traditional marketing. And the best part? This remarkable resource is already sitting at your fingertips.
99% of people are willing to take action on behalf of brands they know and love, but very few are actually ever asked to do so and less than 1% do it on their own. There’s a growing push for User Generated Content (UGC) but very few brands have cracked the code successfully to get their customers to actually make content that’s usable, such as content that can go viral predictably and reliably. The best-case scenarios usually involve paying an agency to coordinate influencer campaigns, but these are already declining rapidly in impact and effectiveness as modern consumers are becoming more distrustful of "influencers" and celebrities and can now spot an insincere post a mile away.
When it comes down to it, the conversations about your brand and products are already happening in at least some capacity. The issue is that you’re entirely separated from said conversations with no means of guiding them, and you also lack the ability to make these powerful interactions happen on-purpose, predictably, and at scale. GoVi has the answer to that. Our platform enlivens and gamifies the customer experience with your brand, allowing you to incentivize very targeted and precise activities throughout your entire customer base–tens of thousands to millions of people acting in concert–mobilizing them to take specific actions that you have prescribed, generating brand growth with unprecedented scale and speed.
In short, your own customers are your demand generation engine. They are a tremendously powerful advocacy resource for your brand if you choose to use them, and you should. 80% of brands don’t leverage advocacy of any kind in spite of the fact that a mere 12% increase in advocacy can result in 2x revenue growth. The excuse has been that there’s simply no good solution to really engage customers in this way before. GoVi solves that in a very big way.
Schedule a call with one of our team of experts and we’ll get you on the right track toward crushing your company growth goals this year and beyond.