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Dark Social Media

Definition

Often confused with dark posts, dark social media encompasses social shares that lack referral information about their source. This includes shares that happen through messenger apps, emails, and text messages. Analytics will typically misinterpret the source for traffic originating from dark social as direct, even though users are not actually typing the URLs into their browsers.
Dark social traffic is inherently difficult to quantify, but estimates often put the proportion of dark social media as constituting more than half of all social traffic.

Combatting Dark Social

The simplest way to disincentivize dark social media is to offer more prominent ways to share content than simply copy-pasting a URL into another application. This includes adding highly visible share buttons, or embedded a referral tag into a button for directly sharing a link to a dark social channel, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or email.

Additionally, adding filters to your analytics that separates users without referrer data who did not land on the homepage (under the assumption that most users won’t both typing the entire URL of most pages) can also provide insight into dark social traffic.