Social media sharing is a key component of any successful digital marketing campaign. However, traditional tracking methods can only go so far. While you can monitor the shares and likes that occur on public platforms like Facebook and Twitter, there’s a whole world of “dark social” sharing that occurs through private channels like messaging apps and email. In this article, we’ll explore how to track and optimize social media sharing that occurs through private channels and why it’s important to do so.
First, let’s define what we mean by “dark social.” This term refers to social sharing that happens outside of public platforms, where it is difficult to track. For example, when someone shares a link to your website through a private message on Facebook Messenger, you won’t be able to see that share in your analytics. According to some estimates, up to 80% of all social sharing occurs through dark social channels.
So why is it important to track dark social sharing? For one, it can help you understand the true impact of your social media campaigns. If you’re only looking at public shares and likes, you’re missing out on a significant portion of your audience. By tracking dark social sharing, you can get a better sense of how your content is resonating with your audience and what types of content are most likely to be shared.
Here are some tips for tracking and optimizing dark social sharing:
- Use shortened URLs: One of the easiest ways to track dark social sharing is to use shortened URLs that include tracking parameters. Platforms like Bitly and Goo.gl allow you to create custom URLs that include tracking tags, which can help you identify the source of the share.
- Implement social sharing buttons: While social sharing buttons on your website won’t necessarily help you track dark social sharing, they can encourage visitors to share your content through public channels, which can be tracked. Be sure to include sharing buttons for all relevant platforms.
- Encourage email forwarding: If you’re sending out newsletters or other marketing emails, encourage your subscribers to forward the email to their friends and colleagues. While you won’t be able to track the individual shares, you can get a sense of how much sharing is happening through this channel.
- Monitor your mentions: While it’s not a perfect solution, monitoring your brand mentions on social media and other online channels can give you a sense of how much sharing is happening. If you see a lot of mentions from people you don’t recognize, it’s possible that your content is being shared through dark social channels.
In addition to tracking dark social sharing, it’s important to optimize your content for this channel. Here are a few tips:
- Make it easy to share: If you want your content to be shared through private channels, make it easy for people to do so. Include sharing buttons on your website and in your marketing emails, and consider including a “Share via email” button.
- Create content that is easy to share: Certain types of content are more likely to be shared through private channels. For example, listicles, infographics, and how-to guides are all popular types of content that are easy to share.
- Be authentic: People are more likely to share content that they find authentic and relatable. Focus on creating content that speaks directly to your target audience and aligns with your brand values.
By tracking and optimizing dark social sharing, you can gain a better understanding of how your content is resonating with your audience and drive more engagement and conversions. Remember to always be testing and iterating on your strategies to find what works best for your business.