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.
Why a social media crisis could be the best thing that happens to a brand.
All the news and updates at this year’s Modern Marketing Experience conference are all about the unified CX narrative.
Altimeter publishes the first complete maturity model for companies undergoing a digital transformation.
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.
Altimeter’s new roadmap for how companies can create and implement a unified content strategy for the entire organization.
New survey results from Altimeter show the powerful effect of employee advocacy, and how companies can use it to drive business results.
The unique challenges faced by the insurance industry when it comes to using customer experience as a differentiator.
Key findings from our upcoming research on Employee Advocacy.
Listen to the recorded webinar from Susan Etlinger.
Taking a page out of Snapchat Stories, Facebook has created a revolutionary ad format for mobile.
The latest research report from Susan Etlinger shows how brands must look at their data not only as a technology issue, but as a strategic asset to be used for competitive advantage.
Ed Terpening takes a look at how employee advocacy could be the next way to promote organic content without paying for reach on Facebook.
A new research brief from Brian Solis talks about how digital strategists can succeed by taking an “OPPOSITE” approach to business as usual.
Lots of changes happening at Twitter, here’s what the latest means for brands that use the platform.
Charlene Li takes a look at what areas of digital transformation companies should invest in as the year begins.
From IBM’s Connect conference in Orlando, Susan Etlinger finds new insights into how employee data can be used to transform organizations.
Lessons from the digital disruption of the music industry.
Analyst Susan Etlinger outlines her research agenda and areas of coverage for 2016.
A new survey from CMO Council and Pega Systems shows that data-driven customer engagement still has a long way to go.
Ed Terpening takes a look at the factors that influence the success employee advocacy programs.
Altimeter’s Susan Etlinger is a guest contributor to a new report from the World Economic Forum, prepared by the Global Agenda Council for Social Media.
An eMarketer report predicts 2016 to be the first year that more money will be spent on display advertising than search.
Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index study identified the Top 50 Relentlessly Relevant Brand. Several digital brands broke into the top 50 — what did they do well to make it into this elite group of brands?
Why companies need to start prepping for the rapidly approaching CX opportunities in virtual/augmented reality technology.
The new areas of focus for Altimeter’s research team in the New Year.
It’s time companies brought HR into the C-Suite.
Watch the recorded webinar and download the slides of Altimeter’s presentation of “The Customer Experience Cloud”
New updates from Oracle Marketing Cloud help brands unite disparate data and business units on a single platform.
Susan Etlinger’s thoughts on the recent TED@IBM event on data.
A new book by Altimeter’s Brian Solis underscores the importance of great design and empathy in creating lasting customer experiences.
A new Altimeter report gives companies a roadmap for unifying their teams and technologies around building a unified customer experience across all brand interactions.
The implications of Facebook’s new range of buttons.
Customer experience is no longer just the responsibility of marketing, martech must be used by the sales and service teams as well.
A new thought leadership study from Altimeter and Cofactor.
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.
Companies need to look beyond communication to earn consumer trust.
How Altimeter will continue to do research as a part of Prophet Brand Strategy.
Acquisition underscores the potential of social to deliver results outside the marketing department.
A look at why it is imperative for the IoT industry to invest in, collaborate, and innovate specifically around security and privacy, not just broader IoT verticals.
How much further can we take the “customer profile?”
It’s less about the hardware and more about the interoperability of content, services, use cases, communications across devices.
The implications of connected devices communicating at every moment.
A new report from the CMO Council identifies the biggest barriers to effective lead generation through content.
Key findings from Altimeter’s latest benchmark study on social business
Brian Solis talks about marketing to Generation “C” at the Adobe Summit EMEA in London.
What you need to know about how companies can use your data to discriminate against you.
When it comes to consumer data use, communication isn’t just ethical, it’s an integral part of brand strategy.
A new research report by Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis and Capgemini Consulting
The mixed feelings video creators have about using Facebook instead of YouTube.
What you should keep in mind when evaluating your company’s social business maturity.
How every company should evaluate itself against consumer privacy concerns.
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.
What both consumers and businesses can learn from the Ashley Madison cheating website data breach.
The start of a new era for Altimeter Group.
A new survey by Econsultancy and Oracle Marketing Cloud highlights the challenges marketers face in using Big Data platforms.
Understanding the full implications of being connected everywhere and anytime.
The way Pinterest discloses its data use practices is a great example for brands.
A new survey by Altimeter Group reveals just how concerned consumers are about connected devices accessing and utilizing their personal data.
Brian Solis speaks with Entrepreneur Magazine’s Jason Ankeny on the future of business.
The essential guidelines all businesses need to follow for the ethical collection, use and sale of data.
New updates to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder platform now allow users to map customer journeys across sales, service, marketing and custom apps.
How to get your business noticed in a sea of content and media.
Was Twitter wrong for taking down “Politwoops?”
Jessica Groopman’s guest post for the TRUSTe blog.
With “Buyable Pins,” brands can now use Pinterest to directly sell their products to consumers
The Apple CEO delivered a scathing critique of companies misusing customer information.
Altimeter’s resident Internet of Things expert Jessica Groopman talks with UnboundID’s Emeka Obianwu.
Altimeter’s latest consumer survey focuses on privacy in the new age of connected devices.
Why leaders are so hesitant to engage digitally, and what they can do to overcome that fear.
Salesforce is fielding inquiries from potential buyers, one of whom may be its biggest competitor, Oracle.
If customer experience is based upon data, the first step is earning their trust.
How to start crafting optimal customer experiences in the Internet of Things.
The three key benefits sensors can offer retailers for using IoT to drive loyalty.
The implications of Twitter turning off the tap for one of its biggest data partners.
At its annual conference, Marketo launches real-time, automated messaging capabilities for mobile apps, along with new advertising and IoT tools.
Why the competition between the big marketing cloud vendors shouldn’t be the focus of their clients.
In this 1-hour webinar, industry analysts Susan Etlinger and Rebecca Lieb share their latest research on Content Marketing Performance.
Does Facebook’s restriction on its huge data sets serve the public interest?
Oracle announces long-awaited web, data, and commerce integrations for its Marketing Cloud, highlighting its big ambitions for a unified offering of all its enterprise platforms.
The impact of IBM’s partnership with the Weather Company and its mammoth investment in IoT.
A look at the growth of Beacon devices and their impact on consumers.
Facebook is emerging as an even bigger threat to YouTube by announcing some attractive new features for its video platform.
Five definitive use cases illustrating how companies can use sensors to enhance customer experience.
A look at the digital ethics and privacy conversations from this year’s SXSW conference.
How leaders can make the most of the biggest digitally-focused event of the year.
Why won’t Apple focus on the actual use cases for Apple Watch instead of how it looks?
I recently partnered with Genesys to explore the state and future of customer experience (CX).
Sprinklr is taking on the marketing cloud bigwigs with the release of its Content Lifecycle Management platform.
The reasons you need to attend Internet of Things World.
We match up Hillary Clinton’s actions against our social business governance framework.
The CEO of Altimeter Group has a new book out which contains essential guidelines for how leaders can engage employees and customers on digital channels.
What leaders need to do to earn the trust of their employees and consumers in the digital age.
A new law banning the collection of personal information in South Africa could influence legislation in other countries as well.
What social media teams need to do to get tweets showing up in Google search results.
How companies can use the Internet of Things to create experiences that benefit both the brand and its customers.
Customer experience is meant to be evocative, not reactive, and the current state of call centers isn’t helping.
A list of essential do’s and don’t for vendors and their PR teams.
The implications of the Internet of Things is so much more than the immediate value of a shiny gadget that connects to the Internet.
A new startup called Locket is revolutionizing the way we use our mobile lock screens by turning it into a content and messaging playground.
DonorsChoose shows how simple targeted emails can produce great engagement across all digital channels.
A new book by Charlene Li tells today’s leaders how to start engaging their employees on the same digital channels as their customers.
NYT- and WSJ-bestselling author Charlene Li guides business leaders deeper than ever before into the uncomfortable and ever-changing terrain of the digital era.
Here’s the first, crucial step every organization needs to take before formulating its content strategy.
This year’s results have troubling implications for the technology industry.
The Internet of Things is the next big channel of engagement for brands, yet most of them still find it difficult to get on board.
The digital trends and practices that require the most attention from business executives this year.
We answer all the questions we couldn’t get to during our webinar on the mobile-only customer experience.
In this one-hour webinar, Susan Etlinger shares a framework on how to 1) extract insight from data and 2) in a way that engenders trust.
A look at the future of advertising in a world where the channels to view them are rapidly changing.
In this 1-hour webinar, join Jaimy Szymanski and Brian Solis for a discussion on how organizations can approach mobile design strategy through the lens of an evolving connected customer.
If you’re making the trek to Austin in March, we hope you’ll catch up with the Altimeter crew.
A look at what we give up and gain when we allow our lives to be turned into sources for data.
How content marketers can take advantage of the new partnership that allows tweets to show up in Google search results.
Successful IoT strategies the consumer product world can learn from B2B enteprises.
Sprinklr will be looking to its new COO to convince enterprise leadership of social media’s importance across the entire organization.
Brands aren’t the only ones who must adapt to a mobile-first audience.
Takeaways from all the advertising we saw on Super Bowl Sunday.
Here are five data questions about the Super Bowl that we’d like the answer to.
With a slew of new features, Facebook could be taking up more space in the video marketing mix.
This month, we welcomed Omar Akhtar as our Managing Editor, a role that we created to shepherd exciting new initiatives at Altimeter.
Microsoft’s cool new gadget could be a powerful tool in the hands of a business.
The inevitability of a mobile-only customer experience will have a big impact on how brands create and deliver content.
Why it’s not enough to simple be present on every digital channel
This week, the Altimeter team quietly moved from San Mateo to our new location in downtown San Francisco. We’re excited today to make the announcement official!
Highlights of what the Big Boulder Initiative accomplished in 2014, and its plans for the new year.
The essential steps you need to take to start building your customers’ mobile experiences.
A look at the best new startups to graduate from Alchemist Accelerator, an accelerator for enterprise collaboration tools.
Things you need to know before you consider spending on Snapchat.
CES 2015 showed that companies are building too many devices, and not focusing enough on the the value they can provide through connectivity.
Before you hire an outside agency to help your content marketing efforts, here are a few key questions you need to ask yourself.
Consumers will soon demand mobile-only experiences from the brands that engage them. Our report identifies the steps companies can take to start thriving in this new reality.
This document is just a first step toward setting context for the many disruptions of ubiquitous and complex data, but it includes preliminary frameworks to help us examine these issues in more detail.
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.
The increasing number of collaboration tools is overwhelming employees. Here’s why companies need to simplify.
What you need to know about Facebook’s newly launched workplace collaboration tool, and the impact it could have in a highly competitive space.
These last few years have been an interesting ride. As fun as it has been, it is the next few years that will be the most telling and also transformative if all goes according to plan.
There is an elephant in the room when it comes to the Internet of Things. There is a critical element inherent to just about any IoT application that hardly ever sees the light of day in industry coverage of the topic.
Predictions? Humbug. Never done ‘em, never will. As a research analyst, predictions are antithetical to my methodology, which is research followed by analysis.
In my last post, I discussed some themes for 2015, one of which was an imperative for us as an industry to get serious about digital ethics.
In a late 2013 study, Gallup found that only 13% of workers actually feel engaged at their jobs. What’s worse is that 63% of the workforce is not engaged at all.
What will 2015 bring marketers? Rather than look into a crystal ball, we have only to look at the present.
When I published the first in a new series of reports exploring the state and future of Digital Transformation, it was almost the antithesis of a typical technology report.
I’m not generally a fan of annual predictions; they always remind me of a carnival in which you’re encouraged to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”; you almost never win the giant teddy bear.
Content marketing is hot, but it is not solely created by, inspired by, or used by marketing.
The story of the blind men and the elephant originated centuries ago in the Indian subcontinent. In the well-known parable, each man has limited context and therefore believes the elephant to be something different. One feels the trunk and thinks it’s a fountain. One touches the ear and thinks it’s a fan. Others think it’s […]
Employees are disengaged at work, and organizations have been exploring how social and digital technologies can address this problem.
For most of digital marketing’s relatively short history, personalization has been the ne plus ultra of sophisticated marketing.
Content. It’s not just for the marketing department anymore. These last few months I’ve been researching how organizations are forming, and benefitting from, what my co-author Jessica Groopman and I are terming a “Culture of Content.”
In this 1-hour webinar, Ed Terpening and Charlene Li share research on how successful organizations scale social business strategy and manage social media risk through a formalized governance system.
Companies recognize one of the big opportunities related to the proliferation of consumer channels and devices is to gain deep insights about their customers. Join Janrain and me this Wednesday for a conversation about the opportunities and challenges related to customer data and identity
In our latest research report, “A Culture of Content,” my colleague and co-author Rebecca Lieb and I present a framework for how organizations of any size can establish, evangelize, and foster a culture of content.
We can all pretty much universally agree that with native advertising comes the obligation of disclosure and transparency.
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.
Every day, there’s seemingly yet another disruptive trend that emerges out of nowhere which affects consumer behavior and the future of everything along with it.
What goes into creating and fostering an organizational culture of content? As an analyst that’s the topic I’m currently researching.
What goes into the marketing process today, and what technology is required? Will a “Marketing Cloud” help coordinate efforts and drive efficiency? What are the alternatives?
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.
According to Wikipedia, “marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product to customers, for the purpose of selling that product (goods or services.)” But that is what marketing used to be
Social selling has become a hot topic. Organizations in every industry are working feverishly to leverage social platforms and social networks for a number of reasons