What is Dark Social Media?

September 24, 2014


As users of the Internet, social media, and email, we have had enough experience viewing websites or web pages whose links would have been shared through social media, email, and chat. Now, coming to site hits or visitors to websites and web pages, most of us are familiar with this. So, where does dark social fit into all of this? Very often, we look at the number of hits a particular website or a web page has received. In all this analysis of analytics, we come across non-referred visits. By this, we mean to say, visits to the site with no specific traceable path, or what is otherwise called direct visits. These make up the ‘dark social’ visits to various sites and web pages.
When a web analytics program refers to a particular visit as a direct visit, it basically implies that the visitor appeared on that particular web page directly and not from any traceable source like a search engine or a social media platform. This generally happens when viewers of particular sites copy paste the link on to their browser directly without clicking on the link. This generally happens when the URL is pretty long and difficult to remember. For example, it is easier to type http://www.mapplinks.com rather than http://www.mapplinks.com/5-content-marketing-tips-improve-seo/
Also, a person sends a link through email or over chat when he/she does not want others in his social network to know what he/she is sharing with people. In such cases, the receiver of the link accesses the page via the link and not through social media or a search engine. This makes tracing the user difficult. An analytics program like Google Analytics will not be able to trace direct visits because of the lack of a path leading to the web page or web site. Such visits are classified under direct visits and this forms quite a large percentage of views. This helps in curating and developing content based on the analytics. It also helps optimize the content for search engines and social media. If one were to eliminate the reasons for the prevalence of dark social media, then it would help define the large percentage of invisible users or visitors who form the large chunk of direct visitors. It would subsequently help in better analytics for the individual web pages and websites.

To understand how to account for the aberration in the analytics because of dark social media, and to understand dark social media, feel free to contact us.

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