77% of content is being shared via ‘Dark Social’, finds new research

Over three-quarters of content coming from publishers or marketers is being shared via Dark Social, versus just 23 per cent on public social networks, research from RadiumOne has found.

Marketers are only just beginning to realise the value in being on channels they can’t necessarily control or measure with ease – such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Adidas, for example, is trying to track communications that are shared privately about the brand while publisher Quartz has refocused its iPhone app to push content straight to mobile via in-app notifications.

The benefits of doing so are clear according to RadiumOne, with 80 per cent of UK mobile clickbacks happening via Dark Social (predominantly on mobile).

“Dark Social is a big piece of the sharing universe. This interest and intent data source is particularly powerful when it comes to mobile, where the majority of interacting with shared content is occurring,” said RadiumOne European managing director, Rupert Staines, urging brands to take a broader and more ROI-focused approach.

“The opportunity for brands is to track, gather and activate these valuable signals to connect their owned and earned media investments with paid media effectiveness".

This could mean rethinking how marketing budgets are managed. RadiumOne’s latest figures show that globally, 84 per cent of all sharing is happening outside of public social networks, yet according to eMarketer, over 90 per cent of social and sharing marketing investment is going to public social networks.

“One of the reasons for this investment disconnect is that until recently, marketers haven’t known how to harness Dark Social sharing behaviour,” added Staines

“The many channels and platforms consumers use to share the things that matter to them, and the behaviour around this, is evolving by the day. It’s becoming increasingly complex and harder for brands to keep up with the fast pace of consumers. However, brands can harness sharing technology to allow them to take a channel and platform agnostic approach to keeping up with consumers.”

RadiumOne aggregated and analysed the actions of 940 million users who shared content from sources where RadiumOne’s sharing software is deployed.

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Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is deputy news editor at The Drum with a remit to cover the latest developments in the retail and FMCG sectors. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

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