Dark social, the (un)sexy underbelly of the social world
Dark Social might sound like something sensual, but it’s really just about tracking those links, baby. And if you aren’t familiar dark social, don’t feel bad, because you’re not the only one. But soon we’ll all be well versed, because dark social is on the rise and something to contend with.
Referral traffic is hard to track
Normally, when a reader clicks on a link that leads to your website from a social media site, your analytics kick into gear. Fairly quickly you’ll learn how that reader was directed to your site, along with plenty of other information you may or may not need. However, when someone copy and pastes a link and texts it to a friend, or shares it through a private messaging app like Snapchat, there is no way to track how someone ended up on your page. The ability to track “referral traffic,” as Olsy Sorokina of Hootsuite describes it, is completely lost.
We may not be aware that it’s happening, but dark social is a huge phenomenon. Although it’s a new concept to most people, Patricio Robles of Econsultancy has stated that, “stats from Radium One show that nearly 70% of global sharing activity takes place in dark social channels.”
So around 70% of referral traffic isn’t being tracked accurately or at all, which means your company might be focusing on or marketing to the wrong demographic. For all you know, the majority of that 70% of traffic could originally be coming from a Facebook ad, and you suddenly decide to spend all of your ad money on Twitter.
Using dark social to your advantage
So how can you use dark social to your company’s advantage? For now, there’s no way to track the traffic that comes by way of dark social apps, emails, and text messages. However, Jack Simpson of Econsultancy has a few suggestions on how to zoom in on where you clicks are coming from.
Simpson’s first suggestion is for your own website. Make sure to include share buttons that are obvious, visible, and make people want to click on them instead of copy and pasting the link in an email. Include buttons for email, WhatsApp, Snapchat and other dark social channels, not just the usual Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to Simpson, buttons for dark social channels are actually more important because with them you can start tracking what comes from those sites, instead of playing the guessing game.
Simpson’s next suggestion is to go into your site’s analytics and look at all your direct traffic. The insanely long links like the ones below were obviously not typed in by hand, so someone clicked on a direct link, most likely from dark social.
“You could set up a segment in your analytics that takes into account all direct traffic links with parameters, so for us it would be all links that aren’t econsultancy.com, enconsultancy.com/blog and so on. This enables you to get a reasonably accurate picture of how much traffic is coming from dark social,” Simpson said.
The future of Dark Social
We’re only just now learning and exploring the concept of dark social. Within a few years’ time, it’s likely that scientists and engineers will have discovered and passed on enough information that we’ll have pulled this social into the light.
*New* TikTok Insights launch: Content creators finally get audience analytics
(SOCIAL MEDIA) The popular short-form app, TikTok, finally launches the anticipated Insights feature, where content creators can view target audience data.
Marketers searching for the zeitgeist which means TikTok scrollers pause to watch their content and then click through to buy a product have a new tool to help make that happen.
- TikTok Insights offers marketers bite-size bits of user demographic information that will help build content that leads to sales.
- With TikTok Insights you can learn more about your audience’s behavior, their interests, and their general sentiment toward brands.
- TikTok Insights is free to use. Marketers can find TikTok user demographics by using filters to determine what they’re looking for.
The demographic info can be age-focused, focused on specific types of marketing, or even as specific as holiday or event marketing.
This is a step in the direction marketers have been asking for as they create content for the TikTok platform; however, creators looking for detailed analytics like they get from meta need to wait. Insights doesn’t offer that for now.
Like TikTok says in its own analytic information,
“While analytics are helpful in understanding the performance of your videos, you don’t need to create future videos based primarily around them. It’s best to consider the bigger picture, lean lightly on analytics, and use them as a source for insight rather than strategy.”
Marketers trying to key into reaching TikTok’s billion users worldwide are left, right now, searching for the magic that leads to consumers making the jump from the platform to using their purchasing power.
For marketers that means keeping things creative and collaborative, two key factors in TikTok’s success. And that success is huge. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the platform when they log in and a staggering 90% of users say they log on every day.
TikTok Insights will help marketers find ways to connect, but the content TikTok is looking for is authentic.
And while entrepreneurs can bid for advertising like other social media platforms, they need to remember when planning that spend, that most TikTok marketing success stories are more accidental than planned. Have fun with that knowledge. Instead of pressure to create the perfect plan, TikTok Insights allows marketers to keep it creative and to find a way to tie it into what they enjoy about the platform.
Like all other social media marketing, focus on creating content that stops the consumer from their continual scroll. Make it a challenge and keep it real.
Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers
(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.
If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?
Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.
Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?
They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.
This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.
If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?
So, moral of the story?
Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.
You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!
BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app
(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.
BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.
According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.
It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.
As the app says when you go to its page:
Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.
A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.
The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.
“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”
The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”
Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.
Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.
For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.
None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.
We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.
BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.
It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.
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