Dark Social Marketing

63% of people prefer to share content on 'dark social' channels


By John Glenday, Reporter

March 25, 2019 | 3 min read

A study on social sharing habits has highlighted the growing appeal of so-called ‘dark’ private messaging apps, with 63% of people now preferring such channels to share content and recommendations.



More than 3,000 adult internet users across the US and Britain were surveyed by GlobalWebIndex and We Are Social to inform the report, which highlighted the true scale of the switch from open social channels and word of mouth – used by just 54% and 51% of respondents respectively.

Drilling down into the most popular private messaging apps it found that Facebook Messenger took the lion's share with 82% sharing content via this channel.It was well ahead of the next nearest platform WhatsApp which was utilised by just 56%. At the other end of the scale, Instagram and Snapchat were harnessed by 34% and 32% respectively.

André van Loon, research and insight director, We Are Social, said: “This shift in consumer behaviour underlines how much marketing now comes through social media, and specifically dark social. Brands can have a big above the line push, but when it comes to consumers actually talking about the brands they like, the things they want to do or buy, and following others’ recommendations, more and more of that now happens in private apps and by sharing links.

“Increasingly, marketers will need to be sure to target and optimise their content so that heavy-lifting ATL awareness campaigns run at the same time as easy-to-share digital content, which consumers will then be free to use and discuss in their own time.”

The growing popularity of private channels was attributed to feeling comfortable to ‘be yourself- by 48% of respondents, who might think twice about sharing the same content on a public forum.

Agencies have thus far failed to capitalise on the full potential of the medium

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