Written by Brent Landels on October 25, 2012
in Social Media Marketing

 Social media reading, sharing, and conversation are all valuable touch points on a marketer’s path to creating brand awareness and loyalty.

But new evidence suggests that by focusing solely on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media, you may be ignoring how your users are truly social online. For the vast majority of social interaction online still takes place over email, instant messages and mobile – interactions that are essentially invisible to the arsenal of analytics software we use as marketers.

These are the interactions Alexis Madrigal, senior editor of The Atlantic, has coined “dark social” – touch points with your brand messages that will never see the light of day.

The traffic generated by the dark-social web tends to get lumped under the amorphous and ambiguous “direct traffic” stat in your analytics. For The Atlantic, Facebook generates about 22% of their web traffic, while dark social generates 56.5% – that’s 2.5-times more influence than their most valuable social media channel.

So what does this mean for your marketing?

The good news is that dark social doesn’t throw the online marketing playbook out the window, it just reinforces the importance of fundamentals.

Social media like Facebook and Twitter are still clearly valuable channels for your marketing messages and conversation. But given the importance of the dark-social network in generating traffic and engagement, you need to optimize the one thing you can control for this hidden audience: your content.

Focus on making your content irresistibly shareable and you’ll ensure your marketing messaging will connect with your audience – both on the dark side and the light.

For further reading on Content Strategy, download Ariad’s White Paper “Content Changes Everything“.

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