When you think of social media for business and the way you track your metrics, things like images, status updates and blog posts likely come to mind.

But have you ever heard of ‘dark’ social media?

The term dark social media refers to mentions and shares that bring you traffic without being seen.  However, just because it’s private, that doesn’t mean you can’t track it. Read on to find out more!

What is dark social media?

To understand what dark social media is, let’s go over standard social media first. You probably already post links on your social media pages, with the aim of your followers seeing it, clicking it and ending up on your website. This is a great way to build traffic!

Dark social media on the other hand is the social media usage that’s not so visible (hence, dark). For example, let’s say someone has visited your site and found a product they think their friend may be interested in.

They then head on over to social media (for example, Facebook Messenger) and send the link the product to their friend in a private message.

The friend clicks the link from within the message and ends up on your site – adding to your traffic. This is dark social media.

So, if we can’t see what other people are saying or sending privately, how can we track it?

Dark social media is more difficult to track, but it’s certainly possible. To do so, you can use your website’s analytical tools. Specifically, you’ll be looking to track your referrer data. There are also a variety of plug-ins and add ons specifically designed for this purpose, such as GetSocial.

The tracking works by using tiny pieces of metadata which remain attached to your website link when it’s copied and shared elsewhere.

Despite being pasted into a private message and clicked on by a different user,  the data will still be there to let you know where that visitor came from.

Is dark social media worth paying attention to?

Yes, it is! When people send their friends or family members links to your products, they are essentially marketing on your behalf. They know what their friends like and will send them targeted products that the recipient may well go ahead and buy.

If you’re getting a lot of traffic this way, it shows that a lot of people are talking about you – which can only be a good thing!

What about messaging users myself?

While we don’t recommend sending out spam to random social media users, it is certainly possible to use dark social media as a business and benefit from the overall concept.

For example, if a user sends you a message asking for help or advice, why not include a link with your response – providing it’s appropriate? As the link has landed directly in their inbox, they are much more likely to check it out and see what you’re showing them.

Do you like the idea of tracking dark social media traffic? Have you given it a try yourself? We would love to know. Share your experiences in the comments below!