Dark Social refers to content that is produced outside of what can be measured by digital analytics programs. This occurs especially when a link is sent via online chat or email, rather than shared through a social media platform, where such referrals can be measured.
In the event that content is shared through dark social,it is possible that the marketing employed on social media is not focusing on the type and quality of content may be overlooking a huge portion of social sharing.
A large portion of direct traffic is actually social dark, as it originates through a URL that has been shared, but is marked as direct through analytics tools. This actually comes from an email, a Whatsapp or a message sent from one user to another, without there being an effective way to measure it, since these URLs are not always accompanied by utm.
- SMS or chat: Text messages and native messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Hangouts don’t pass referrers when someone clicks on a link.
- Email: Providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook have strict user privacy regulations. Activities such as click data do not pass a referral code.
- Native mobile apps: There are apps, such as Snapchat, that don’t have clickable links, so users have to type the link directly into the browser. In this case, this traffic can be attributed as direct traffic.
- Private and secure browsing: Browsing in Chrome incognito mode or using HTTPS won’t pass a referral code.