Dark Social: Majority of social sharing is done outside of social media platforms

Woman in black dress sitting 4 feet away from laptopThe conversation began:
“I need to do social media for my business” they said.
“Great”, I answered, “What’s your business and which social media platforms are your prospective customers or influencers using?”
“I’m not sure, but I know I have to do it.” they replied,
“Do you have the time?” I asked.
“Not really”, they replied, “but I know I have to use it. I need to use social media to grow my business. That’s where everyone is.”

So here’s the question: Is most online social interaction done within the confines of social media?

In the excellent article “Dark Social, we have the history of the web wrong”, Alexis Madrigal explains how when social media appeared it placed a framework around our social activities and turned us all into publishers. “Facebook and Twitter shift the paradigm from private sharing to public publishing. They structure, archive, and monetize your publications.” So now, business owners have to add the title “publisher” to their list of competencies! Getting tired yet?

But, there is no need to worry quite yet. Madrigal also talked about how the majority of our online social activity is still done outside of social media through texting, instant messaging and emails, which he named dark social. In his example over 56% of that online social activity was dark social. And the rest was split between various social media websites.

Being social is about creating deeper relationships with people, having 2-way conversations that mean something. And yet, there is a steady stream of articles suggesting we dive into social and gather as many likes, friends and connections as possible. Why? So we can blast our “please use me” message out to more people? Do you really want to be one of those irritating people that buys lists and spams everyone? Do you really think people will buy from you? Do you buy from them?

Take a step back. Take a breath. Look at your overall business and marketing plan. Review your marketing vehicles to determine which ones are effective. Experiment a little, but measure. Is what you are doing driving quality visitors to your website? If not, adjust.

I love social. I’ve seen it work well in some industries. As a B2B company that builds websites, we experiment to see what’s working for our business. But the reality is the majority of our online social interaction, at least the interactions that turn into revenue, is for the most part still dark social…at least for now.  We’ll see what happens in the future.