Sounds ominous, but Dark Social is merely the sharing of content from social channels that is not easily tracked, and so often hidden from the light of analytic tools that record sharing and inbound clicks to your website. The impact is significant: depending on the research study, it represents anywhere between 32-75% of sharing, and 91% of Americans share this way. At the same time, Facebook has experienced a 21% decline in personal sharing (but with measured growth in work-related professional sharing). This hidden sharing activity could represent 3X that of Facebook, so well worth understanding. In a 2014 study by advertising platform RadiumOne, close to 70% of all online global referrals were found to come from dark social. Imagine investing in social and—at best—being only able to measure 30% of your investment. Here is research data from RadiumOne that explores regional differences:
We tend to think of the social graph (that connects us in social networks) as an open highway where sharing spreads content, but increasingly, consumers are taking side roads that circumvent traditional tracking mechanisms.
The purpose of this post is to help digital and social strategists understand this phenomenon and—where they can--plan accordingly.
Marketers design social content to be shared, and so increasingly rely on tracking tools—often found in the URL of the post—to measure impact. If you look at a Google Analytics report for inbound traffic to your website, you’ll see a big bucket called “Direct Traffic” because these visits lack the tracking tags/cookies that provide an audit trail of how the visitor ended up on your site. When I directed a big brand social team, I remember seeing this bucket and wanting to know more. The standard answer—at least then—was that visitors were either typing in the URL (highly unlikely), accessing a bookmark (again highly unlikely) or coming in through some other means (likely). Dark Social is how we shared content pre-social web era, so it’s not too surprising to see this phenomenon. Factors that are driving it include:
We’ve spent years convincing business leaders that social media is the platform that can shift brand perception and action, primarily through peer-to-peer influence. There’s no doubt that peers trust each other, but if the limited research on Dark Social is any indication, brands are possibly missing insights into a treasure trove of peer sharing that occurs outside social media’s walls, and usually outside measurement ability. To make matters worse for brand managers, because it is more personal, this type of private peer sharing is the most valuable, trusted and likely to lead to action.
Private social messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and legacy platforms like email and SMS are increasingly the preferred method of social sharing.
If we care about the how peers influence opinion and action, our focus on social media represents a small portion of sharing activity that shifts mindsets. Social and digital strategists need to consider dark social on par with social, in terms of strategic importance and measurement.
There are some opportunities to peek into dark social, but don’t expect to solve this challenge completely. As per the drivers above, consumers will (rightly) find a way to share in ways we can’t track. They are always one step ahead.
Here’s a sampling of case studies for how brands are addressing dark social:
Here are a few tactics I would think about to address Dark Social:
Lastly, don’t sweat it: private sharing is human nature, and people will find a way to share digitally outside the lens of analytics. Use the sharing you can record as an indicator for what you can’t in dark social.
The most valuable social media activity usually can’t be seen or tracked. Here’s how your brand can deal with it.
Chatbots announced at today’s Facebook developer conference, F8.
Facebook’s CEO outlines the company’s plans for its family of apps, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
New survey results from Altimeter show the powerful effect of employee advocacy, and how companies can use it to drive business results.
Key findings from our upcoming research on Employee Advocacy.
Ed Terpening takes a look at how employee advocacy could be the next way to promote organic content without paying for reach on Facebook.
Lots of changes happening at Twitter, here’s what the latest means for brands that use the platform.
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Ed Terpening takes a look at the factors that influence the success employee advocacy programs.
The new areas of focus for Altimeter’s research team in the New Year.
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The implications of Facebook’s new range of buttons.
Employee advocacy of your brand coupled with divisive political expression can harm both your brand and employee influence in social networks.
What every company needs to consider before organizing for social business.
Acquisition underscores the potential of social to deliver results outside the marketing department.
Key findings from Altimeter’s latest benchmark study on social business
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Altimeter’s latest benchmark study on how companies are using social media to further their business results.
A new report from eMarketer predicts that by 2017, Instagram ad sales will cross $2 billion in ad sales.
With “Buyable Pins,” brands can now use Pinterest to directly sell their products to consumers
The implications of Twitter turning off the tap for one of its biggest data partners.
Does Facebook’s restriction on its huge data sets serve the public interest?
We match up Hillary Clinton’s actions against our social business governance framework.
What social media teams need to do to get tweets showing up in Google search results.
How content marketers can take advantage of the new partnership that allows tweets to show up in Google search results.
Sprinklr will be looking to its new COO to convince enterprise leadership of social media’s importance across the entire organization.
With a slew of new features, Facebook could be taking up more space in the video marketing mix.
Charlene Li and Jon Cifuentes share research on how leading organizations use social and digital technologies to create holistic employee engagement strategies that drive business impact and cultural change.
We evaluated the US Congress according to our social governance framework, and the results weren’t great.
What you need to know about Facebook’s newly launched workplace collaboration tool, and the impact it could have in a highly competitive space.
Employees are disengaged at work, and organizations have been exploring how social and digital technologies can address this problem.
In our research and client work at Altimeter, one of the most misunderstood issues we see is social business governance.
When Facebook announced last week that it will soon become more difficult for brands’ page posts to appear in the news feeds of their friends, fans, and followers, the outcry was predictable.
Facebook is working on a new offering called Facebook at Work, according to the Financial Times.
Charlene Li and I are pleased to offer you Altimeter’s latest research report focused on Social Business Governance.
We’re in the final stages of a new research report that is looking at the hot space of social selling, exploring how this nascent but quickly evolving approach to the sales process is being used by both sales and marketing teams with both trepidation and success.
Marketers are struggling with a customer journey that has become more complex than ever. The journey is difficult to track across channels and devices. The infographic below illustrates the modern marketing cycle…
For our latest report, Altimeter Group partnered with LinkedIn to study the importance of relationship building among the most socially engaged companies on LinkedIn. We found that, by using social technologies to improve relationships, businesses witness incredible results.
This week, Facebook re-launched Atlas, the ad platform it bought from Microsoft last year.
Altimeter Group is planning to publish a research report this fall on how businesses are enabling sales organizations with social media tools. We will be discussing the markers for social selling transformation, best practices on training and governance, and a snapshot into the suite of tools available as marketing and sales organizations are pushed to […]
In this one-hour webinar, analyst Susan Etlinger explores the phenomenon of “TV Everywhere” and shares findings from her recent report, Data Everywhere.
It’s no corporate HR secret: the greater investment made into employees, the greater the ultimate reward back to the company.
In this one-hour webinar, analysts Andrew Jones and Charlene Li share how insights can be gleaned from social media.
Social Media Examiner’s 2014 annual Marketing Industry Report found that while 97% of marketers use social media in their marketing efforts, only 37% are able to measure the ROI of those activities.
Modern marketing requires deeper customer understanding to drive meaningful engagement. With social media — and the abundance of social profile and activity data — brands can glean this insight to identify and better understand prospects and customers throughout the customer lifecycle.
Today, I’m happy to announce the publication of my research report, Leveraging Social Identity: Know and Engage Customers Better to Build More Valuable Relationships.
Salesforce just announced the release of its Social Studio, an enterprise social relationship platform.
Today Sprinklr is announcing the availability of a paid media offering as well as a $40M in series D funding led by Iconiq Capital (which notably manages money for many of Facebook’s early employees, among others).
A key factor to creating and delivering a great customer experience is the ability of a company’s workforce to modernize, use new technology platforms to connect with each other and customers, and most importantly, adopt a new mindset of openness and transparency.
To learn more about the state of social media command centers, Altimeter Group spoke with three organizations — MasterCard, eBay, and Wells Fargo Bank.
Late last year, I started wondering about social media command centers. Salesforce had launched one, as had Brandwatch, but I wondered: were they really still relevant? Were companies investing in command center deployments, or had interest subsided since their heyday in 2010?
Large enterprises are rolling out social media at scale – and training and education for employees is critical. Well-developed social media education programs can help companies achieve business goals by reducing social media risk and activating employees for engagement and advocacy.
Last week, Charlene Li, Ed Terpening, and I hosted a webinar on how large enterprises — like ARAMARK, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, RadioShack — are rolling out corporate social media education, and why.
Facebook may be losing teens (/the cool kids), but contrary to some beliefs, 2014 will not be a dire year for the company.
Real-time content synchronization between offline and online media has become the darling of social TV, frequently serving as its very definition for companies looking to marry traditional and digital marketing experiences.
As we launch into 2014, the analysts at Altimeter each pulled together a compilation of trends and issues they are watching closely this year.
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As digital channels operate increasingly in the ‘now,’ all marketing organizations must consider to what degree they will function in real-time, and even define what real-time is relative to their operations and marketing organization.
Miss our recent report, The State of Social Business 2013? If you’re looking for a cheat sheet, here’s a visual of the key findings: The graphic below shows how companies are formalizing, organizing, and growing their social media efforts. For example, three out of four large companies now have a dedicated social media team — […]
Miss our recent report, The State of Social Business 2013? If you’re looking for a cheat sheet, here’s a visual of the key findings: The graphic below shows how companies are formalizing, organizing, and growing their social media efforts.
Last year, we asked companies about their top social strategy priorities. The second top response was “Developing Internal Education and Training.” Yet, when we surveyed companies earlier this year, we saw that only 38% had any education program in place, beyond ad hoc efforts.
In the past year, social data has continued to wend its way into organizations of all types, from large enterprise to small business to media and entertainment and the public sector. We’ve seen use cases far past marketing into product and service quality, entertainment programming, customer service, fraud detection and a host of other examples.
Last month, we published our report, The State of Social Business 2013, based on data and analysis from four years of Altimeter’s annual digital strategists’ survey. Today, we’re happy to release the data charts from that report, in a downloadable, easy to share PowerPoint presentation that you can take and inject in your own presentations.
Each year, Altimeter surveys social strategists and executives, and shares our findings and analysis in Open Research reports. In our most recent report, we looked at our survey findings from the last four years, 2010 to 2013, to share our analysis of the state of social business.
Adobe Marketing Summit and Oracle OpenWorld both took place recently. It’s another month until Dreamforce, but I expect similar announcements to be made there.
What is native advertising and, by extension, what is it not?
Not since the legislative debate over spam back in the early part of the millennium has a digital marketing term been so riddled by obfuscation and misunderstanding as native advertising.
In this report, industry analyst Susan Etlinger demonstrates how leading organizations are deriving actionable intelligence from a holistic view of social and enterprise data.
In this webinar, they discuss the seven factors that successful social businesses share and how their strategies are designed to deliver business value.
I’ve taught more than 300 professionals Social Business through hands-on workshops, and happy to announce new workshops from Altimeter Academy focused on Content Marketing and Social Business Analytics.
I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about social data: what it is, what it isn’t, how to measure it, where it’s going.
In this 1- hour webinar, industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang presents his research on the business disruption, and share examples of companies that are already moving into the Collaborative Economy.
Altimeter analysts Charlene Li and Brian Solis proudly introduce their new book The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy. It was written to help readers learn how to better align social media strategies with business objectives to deliver real results and ROI.
In this webinar, Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li and Brian Solis review the six distinct stages that organizations move through as they evolve their social business strategy.
This report defines the Collaborative Economy, looks at companies that are already moving into this space, and provides a framework, the Collaborative Economy Value Chain, which companies can use to help rethink their business models.
Watch this webinar and learn how prepared your company is for social business.
Over 30 Technologies Have Emerged, at a Faster Pace than Companies Can Digest. If you think social was disruptive, it was really just the beginning.
In its latest research, Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li and Brian Solis uncovered a distinct gap between organizations that execute social media strategies and those that are truly a “social business.”
Yesterday’s Burger King brandjacking was an important reminder to brands and their agency and software partners about how vulnerable social media accounts are.
Last week, Jeremiah and I published Altimeter Group’s first “short doc,” focused on in-depth case studies that illustrate how large brands are managing complex, distributed social media programs.
For the last few years (see 2012 data). This analysis is a bellwether on how brands will spend on an integrated experience for the year.
Businesses may be seen as having a “successful” social strategy by virtue of citations in case studies and speaking at conferences. But, by far, the best metric of success is concrete examples of how the organization creates business value via social technologies across multiple departments and dimensions of their business.
It’s a nightmare scenario. You get a frantic text or call from a co-worker that someone tweeted a tasteless joke or profanity from your corporate Twitter account.
Advertising and media are converging. The results will disrupt how companies must deploy their marketing efforts.
The volatility of social data and the pace of change mean that tried-and-true measurement methods are no longer enough. Social data is different.
Social media is the modern Pandora’s box: it has had a meteoric rise as a tool to interact and engage with customers, but also a dark underside exposing companies to new types of risk.
Real-world case studies of best practice training programs are discussed, as well as outcome-oriented training strategies that will keep all levels of employees engaged.
What we found was that social media is the modern Pandora’s box – It has great value but almost two-thirds of companies we surveyed say that social media is a significant or critical risk to their brand reputation.
Everyone talks about the challenges of measuring the revenue impact of social media, but how are top brands actually doing it? And are they successfully measuring ROI?
In the late 20th century, when the commercial internet was in its infancy, there was no end to the griping about “silos.” Back then silos referred to That Which Is Digital and That Which Is Not Digital. The gripe (from the digital side of the equation) was that the not-digital team got all the budget, […]
Want to learn about Formalized Social Advocacy Programs? An embedded recording is below.
The potential for social influence is enormous on both sides of the equation. Services that rank and identify “influence” open the door to new opportunities for businesses to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with digital tastemakers and authorities.
In 2011, the US hit a milestone — more than half of all adults visit social networking sites at least once a month. But when it comes to using social-networking technologies inside organizations, many business leaders are at a loss to understand what value can be created from Facebook-like status updates within the enterprise.
This week, Altimeter (myself and Andrew Jones) hosted a webinar stemming from the the recent report on Social Media Proliferation, which you can download the full report on this blog post.
Get account control now –or risk a career of continual social media sanitation. To match the growing consumer adoption of social media, many companies have launched social media efforts with little planning.
Sales and operations planning processes are 35 years old and are currently experiencing a renaissance. The redefinition of the process powers growth and improves resiliency in the face of increasing volatility.
What’s a crises? We did analysis on the list of social media crises aka “punkings” to find out what went wrong, why, and what should have been done.
Wherever I go, the question I hear most often is this: “What is the ROI of social media?” Even though most companies we’ve surveyed have a brand monitoring solution in place, few have yet to crack the measurement code. It remains one of the most stubborn challenges for the social business.
Is the supply chain ready to be social? And, if so, how do companies begin the journey? What steps do they take?
One question I frequently get is “How much should I be spending on social media?” The answer, of course, is it depends. This report looks at how 140 Social Strategists spent on social media in 2010 — and their plans for 2011 (read report).
Last quarter, Altimeter hosted a conference on The Rise of Social Commerce, in which we release a research report based on interviewing dozens of companies who are integrating ecommerce with social media.
This Social Media Decision Maker Must Choose One of Two Career Paths. This emerging role is critical to the success of social media programs yet, most Social Strategists and their programs lack maturity, with only 23% of Social Strategists having a formalized program with long-term direction.
Download our paper and presentation below, and register for a webinar with me and partner Jeremiah Owyang on Wednesday, December 1 at 11 am PST for a webinar on the Rise of Social Commerce. Registration at: http://bit.ly/rscwebinar. Meet the new shopper. Underneath the keys of the keyboard, they are shopping in a new way. Unleashing […]
Altimeter Group conducted research, and gleaned input from 34 vendors, agencies, and experts, to determine success criteria and develop a roadmap for Facebook page best practices.
Social technologies are disrupting traditional business models, and the analyst industry is no exception.
While numerous social media measurement technologies exist, no single tool can adequately measure and provide insights for all social marketing activity.
In Open Leadership, Charlene Li offers the next step resource that shows leaders how to tap into the power of the social technology revolution and use social media to be “open” while maintaining control.
“Be Open, Be Transparent, Be Authentic” are the current leadership mantras — but companies often push back.
We finally completed our final third webinar in our social strategy trilogy. It’s been great sharing our insights and widely releasing it to the community, and I hope you enjoy this final segment.
This webinar follows Altimeter Group’s recently published open research report: Social CRM: The New Rule of Relationship Management, which covers 18 uses cases of social CRM.
Social and CRM: How Companies Will Manage Their Social Relationships Over the last six months, I’ve been working closely with Ray Wang who is well known in the CRM space as an expert. Coupled with my focus on social technologies we did a deep dive on how our worlds are intersecting at Social CRM.
Jeremiah Owyang and I held a webinar entitled “Developing A Social Strategy” that had over 495 participants asking very insightful questions — we had a great time sharing the information and got new ideas on how to develop our thinking as well.
In 2009, a subset of the marketing-focused chapters were published as “Marketing In The Groundswell.”
Groundswell is required reading for executives seeking to protect and strengthen their company’s public image.