The Dark Social: see no evil, but learn to Trust and Measure It

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You may or may not have heard of ‘dark social’, but I can guarantee if you use social media, you will have created ‘dark social’ visits. That is, if you have ever seen an interesting news story and grabbed the link and sent it to a friend on Facebook Messenger, or texted your mum asking if she still wants those tickets to see Mumford & Sons for her birthday and included a link to the venue’s website.

What Is Dark Social?

If you work for a social brand and have ever needed to dig into a traffic source report using your favorite web analytics tool, you may have noticed a giant bucket of ‘direct’ traffic and thought to yourself what is this?The phrase originally coined by Alexis Madrigal from the Atlantic, ‘Dark Social‘ simply means the sharing of content through channels other than social media, whether by email, private message or even SMS. By definition, dark social traffic can’t be attributed to a known source, as the referring source lacks the tags required by analytics software that provide information about the site it was seen on. Unlike other ‘direct traffic’ sources such as from social media, which comes from links shared, contains tags that tells your analytics software where the link was shared originally and how visitors have ended up on your website.

Times Have Changed

In the early days of the web, everything was link-based, so we either discovered something via search, via link, or we went to the site directly by typing it into the browser or via bookmark. So if a site visitor arrived at the site without a referrer s/he had to be a direct visitor. But this was in the time of a simpler, smaller web, and before the rise of mobile.Unlike those early days, there are now many ways a visitor can arrive at a site without going to the site directly. Here are a few:

  1. Native Mobile Apps. Mobile apps either fire up a browser instance in-app (like Facebook) or force safari/chrome to open a new browser window (like Instagram) with the URL in question in the browser. In both cases, the browser itself is going to directly to the site and thus it looks like direct traffic when viewed in GA.
  2. Email. Most email-providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook don’t pass a referrer when a user clicks the link to protect privacy and security for that user.
  3. Chat. This can be in the form of chat-based native mobile apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat or web/desktop based chat like Google Hangouts, IRC, or Slack. Chat clients of all kinds do not pass referrers either!
  4. Secure browsing. If you’re browsing on a site using HTTPS and click a link to a site using HTTP a referrer won’t be passed.
  5. Organic search. In some browser configurations, google won’t actually pass a referrer when a user clicks a link from an organic search.

We only consider the first three of these to be dark social, but the point here is that most direct traffic is actually far from direct. If you’re measuring your web traffic using only standard web analytics, you’re missing key insights about how people are actually discovering your content and products

So, why do I care?

Dark Social is getting bigger and bigger. As you can see from the following pictures, a number of different researches from Radium One, ChartBeat, SmartInsights are estimating Dark Social to accounts for 70% of social sharing , up to 82% for mobile sharing!dark socialThink about that for a second. As a social marketer, social sharing is the lifeblood that sustains and amplifies your efforts, and it turns out you can’t even see that it’s happening in most cases. Imagine if the paid search didn’t know about 70% of their effective keywords!The dominant sharing paradigm of today isn’t actually posting articles to Facebook (though that’s obviously hugely important). The use cases for dark sharing are so plentiful:

  • A wife texting a husband about a concert she’d like to attend
  • A group of friends on a group email chain sharing content about their favorite sports team
  • A friend WhatsApp’ing a pair of shoes she’s going to buy
  • A colleague Slack messaging a recent industry announcement

There are so many places where it makes more sense to share 1:1 instead of 1:many, and many times when a private forum is more appropriate. That doesn’t mean this sharing isn’t social! It absolutely is and you need to be able to understand it to both prove and improve the total efficacy of your efforts.

Let’s Make It Clear With An Example

I have an ecommerce site selling ‘Pet Rocks’. I get 60% of my traffic from organic search, 10% from paid search, 25% from ‘direct’ and 5% from social media. My site has a 1% conversion rate (I sell 1 pet rock per 100 visitors) and on each pet rock I sell I make a £10 profit. I get 10,000 views a month, so that means I make £600 per month from people coming from organic, and only £50 per month from those coming from social media.example chart dark social If I currently spend £200 per month on outreach and £200 per month paying a freelance copywriter to write content for my sites blog, I can conclude that I’m making a tasty profit of £200 per month on my organic traffic (£600 revenue – £400 spending). However if I currently spend £100 per month on social media campaigns and only get £50 in revenue from social media then it looks like I’m wasting £50 per month on social media and it isn’t worth the money I’m spending on it. I’d better cut down by on my social media spending or wind it up entirely.Although the available data seems to back this up, I would actually be wrong to make this conclusion. If I analyse the traffic that comes to me direct, I find only 5% of it is going to my home page and the vast majority goes to various product pages and blog articles which have long URLs that people can’t possibly be typing in direct (unless it happens they have them bookmarked). It turns out these people have been coming to the site via ‘dark social’, and so I’d be wrong to write off my social media efforts.It turns out 4/5ths of the traffic that was being counted as ‘direct’ was actually ‘dark social’ and only 1/5th was people actually typing in the URL. This means if Dark Social is counted under the social section, social as a whole is making £250 in revenue from the 2,500 people it brings in, and thus my £100 social budget is more than justified. In fact, it might be worth trying out spending more to generate more buzz around buy pet rocks to generate further social traffic, both visible and dark.

Ok, This Is What You Can Do

The good news is that there are new tools that allow marketing professionals to correctly understand traffic origins and therefore study their behaviour and conversions. In this post, you’ll find 5 tools to help you track dark social sharing.Plus, as Chartbeat has identified, native mobile apps will pass an identifier in the UserAgent field even when they don’t pass a referrer. For example, Facebook passes FBIOS as a UserAgent string for a user accessing content from Facebook’s mobile app.Questions? Other way you know to track dark social?[Sources: Digiday, SmartInsights, Simply Measured, Huffington Post]

77 New Emojii! No condom, but get ready for arm-taking selfie, avocado and pancakes

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Be ready to update your social media post!

Unicode Consortium released 77 new emojis, including the highly anticipated avocado emoji, two strips of bacon, a (very topical) gorilla and an arm taking a selfie. Also included a handshake, pancakes, a green salad and a drooling face.

However, the new emojis doesn’t include a condom, as Durex petitioned for in an effort to promote safe sex.

See all the new added emojiis HERE

PS – You won’t see them until mid-2017 because of Apple’s and Android’s lengthy design process!

[Source: Digiday]

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The new Digital Economy: Shared, Collaborative, On Demand

New Digital Economy banner

In recent years a number of online services have emerged that promise to reshape the way that Americans shop, eat, earn a living, go on vacation, get from place to place, and share goods, services and money with each other. Commercial juggernauts like the ride-hailing app Uber or the home-sharing platform Airbnb represent some of the most well-known examples of these new services, but they encompass the host of services, apps and online platforms of various sizes that are generally considered to be part of the shared, on-demand and collaborative economy. These new platforms serve a wide range of markets and objectives, but several characteristics help to define the landscape of this corner of the digital economy.

One characteristic of these services is that many maintain little (if any) inventory themselves. Instead, they often function as a platform for connecting excess goods or capacity – an old piece of furniture, space in the passenger seat of someone’s car, a room in someone’s home, a parking space, a designer dress or workers’ time and skills – with people who want to purchase or simply use those items or services for themselves.

These services also tend to rely on flexible forms of employment as a key element of their business model. Just as many of these services tend to maintain little in the way of real-world inventory, most directly employ a relatively small number of workers. Typically the people who actually interact with customers and other end users are so-called 1099 workers (a reference to the tax form that independent contractors receive each year) who are not employed by the service itself. This arrangement allows these workers to offer services on a flexible or part-time basis – but also means that they do not qualify for many of the government-mandated benefits available to traditional employees under law, such as employer-subsidized health insurance or the ability to get reimbursed for business expenses.

Finally, these services are often premised on removing the friction, hassle and inconvenience from users’ everyday lives – for a price. For services that offer physical products, this might mean offering same-day delivery of a variety of household items so that users are saved a trip to the grocery store after a long day at the office. For more task-oriented services, this might mean offering users the ability to instantly summon a driver or personal chef at a moment’s notice from a smartphone app.

As is the case with many of the services themselves, the way these services function is not necessarily new. People have been selling used or handmade items on peer-to-peer commerce platforms like eBay and Craigslist since the early days of the modern web; Amazon introduced its Prime expedited-shipping membership service in 2005; and the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s prominently featured a number of on-demand delivery services, ranging from the famously short-lived Kozmo.com (which promised to deliver a variety of products to customers within one hour with no delivery charge) to the still-operational grocery delivery service Peapod.

But while these new shared and on-demand services are in some respects little different from others that came before them, they have presented a number of challenges to regulatory and policy structures that in many cases predate the internet era by decades. For instance, cities around the country have struggled with how to incorporate ride-hailing apps and home-sharing platforms into existing regulatory structures governing the for-hire vehicle and hotel markets. And the piecemeal, episodic nature of employment in the emerging “gig economy” has placed new challenges on workforce regulations and social safety net programs that were designed for an era when the distinction between workers and contractors was more clear-cut.

These services have also touched off a wide-ranging debate about their impact on the economy and on society as a whole. Many laud these services for the convenience and efficiency they bring into users’ day-to-day lives. But others worry about the vast quantities of cardboard and other waste that are the byproduct of this convenience, or express concern that these services are simply helping the already-fortunate to lead more comfortable lives – with little long-term benefit to the broader population who cannot afford to use these services, or to the workers who ultimately make them possible.

No matter what work you do, you have most likely taken part in the new digital economy. Well, at least 72% of Americans did…

New Digital Economy

Wanna know more? Pew Research examined Americans’ use of – and attitudes toward – the shared, collaborative and on-demand digital economy. The following chapters offer an in-depth examination of three archetypal examples of the most recent wave of digital innovation.

  • Chapter 2 examines the nature and impact of on-demand services in the context of ride-hailing apps.
  • Chapter 3 uses the example of home-sharing services to examine issues related to the sharing economy more broadly.
  • Chapter 4 uses a series of questions about crowdfunding platforms to examine the scope and impact of collaborative platforms.
  • Chapter 5 discusses usage data for a number of other digital economy services.

Define your Online Video Strategy: Facebook Vs. YouTube

Video Strategy Title

If it were five years in the future, would you be reading this article or would you be watching it? As online video continues its inimitable rise, it’s an interesting question to ponder.

Just take a moment to read these statements:

With online video quickly becoming a key means for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs, businesses that fail to include it in their digital strategies will do so at their peril.

So here comes the tricky questions, where should you publish your video?

Well, let’s start from the end, the viewers. You want viewers, right? And a lot of viewers make a lot of views… Well, the problem is that when it comes to define a view, there’s no consistency across online platforms.

Here’s a rundown:

Views Table

Ok ok, I’m here to suggest solutions, not to create confusion. While I was developing this chart, I thought that a quick POV about online video strategy could be of interest for a lot of you guys.

But, I have neither the time nor the inclination to write a whitepaper or record a video (pardon my english humor). So I thought “An infographic should be easy and fast to consume!”.

And here we are: there’s no discussion that the main players for videos are Facebook and YouTube, that’s why  I structured my visual as a comparison between the two platforms… eventually providing my recommended approach for your online videos!

As always… shoot me your feedback and comments. See you soon, I have to work on my Xmas video!😉

Online Video Strategy

Online Video Strategy – Facebook vs YouTube

[Additional Source: The Guardian]

Why do people uninstall apps?

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Why Do People Uninstall Apps? Well according to ITR, a company that specialises in translation and localization services for software applications, the most overwhelming reason for uninstalling apps is that they take up too much space!

The infographic covers:

  • how long we keep apps for
  • why apps are being uninstalled
  • the 8 most common design mistakes
  • the difference between the Apple store and Google Play

[Source: ITR International Translation Resources]

How much should you spend on Sales and Marketing?

The Corporate Marketing and Sales Spend Landscape is an infographic about publicly traded companies and how much revenue they spend on sales & marketing. The general rule of thumb, based off of a 2014 Gartner Research study, is that a company should invest 10% of their revenue into marketing. However, a 2014 CMO survey, published by the American Marketing Association and Duke University, came to find that the 10% rule isn’t true for all types of companies.

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Mobile Browser has the reach, Apps have the engagement. So, who’s winning?

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Last month, comScore released its Mobile App Report (see this amazing article by Marketing Land). The report contained many interesting findings, but its big takeaway was this:

There’s a divergence between reach and engagement.

  • The desktop and mobile Web have much greater audience.
  • Consumers spend the majority of their mobile time with a very few heavily used apps.

As the chart below indicates, the desktop is not dead: usage has grown since 2013. But that growth is modest compared with mobile.
comscore Mobile apps report

Sixty-two percent of all digital media time is now mobile, and the majority of that is in apps, which recently surpassed TV. By contrast, time spent on the desktop has plummeted to 38 percent from 49 percent since 2013.

comscore Mobile apps report

What’s interesting here is the concentration of time in apps (nearly 90 percent of mobile time) compared with their more limited audience size. The mobile Web has a much larger audience, though one that’s much less engaged.

comscore Mobile apps report

Morgan Stanley recently presented its additional findings in a research note that plays up mobile browser usage.

Characterizing the browser as the ultimate mobile app, the firm cites its own research and comScore data for the proposition that “US mobile browser audiences are 2X larger than app audiences across the top 50 mobile web properties and have grown 1.2X faster over the past 3 years.”

Mobile web vs. app traffic for top 50 mobile properties

mobile web vs. app traffic

Source: Morgan Stanley rendering of comScore data

The research note is designed to combat the perception that the mobile Web is anemic or in decline (and by extension, Google). It’s not. As the data show, mobile browser usage is growing faster than apps and delivering larger audiences for most publishers.

Morgan Stanley points out that only 12 of the top 50 mobile properties have more traffic coming from apps than the browser. The discussion argues for the primacy of the mobile browser for most publishers, brands and marketers.

As a practical matter, Morgan Stanley is absolutely correct. Most publishers will see the bulk of their traffic from mobile browser usage and not apps. The reason isn’t because the browser is somehow superior or that the “open internet must win.” The browser drives more traffic because consumers are highly selective about apps.

Mobile app traffic exceeds the browser in only a few cases

Mobile traffic apps vs. mobile web

Source: Morgan Stanley, comScore

Because of smartphone memory constraints and the mediocre quality of most apps, users are only going to download and engage with a small fraction of the apps on the market. For example, I may have one or two retailer apps on my phone (e.g., Amazon), though I shop at many more stores. My choices are tied to frequency and loyalty; I’m not going to download 10 different retail apps. Instead, I’ll use search and the browser to find information from retailers I’m more casually invested in.

Unable to deliver compelling experiences and disappointed by a lack of traction, many retailers have turned away from apps and toward the mobile Web. It’s also becoming more costly to acquire app users who may quickly churn anyway. (Here the positions of Google and Facebook are reversed, with Google positioning itself as the lower-cost alternative for app-install ads.)

It’s important to be clear that mobile apps aren’t appropriate for every merchant or marketer. The apps vs. mobile browser discussion is really about audience segmentation and user behavior patterns. As a crude generalization, the browser is for more casual audiences and apps are for more frequent and loyal customers.

I think this apps vs. browser argument is so charged partly because it’s a surrogate for Apple’s and Google’s competing visions for the mobile internet. These dueling positions have zealous detractors and partisans.

Putting aside “ideology,” marketers need to have a clear view of what approach makes the most sense for them based on a realistic understanding of the customer and her behavior and usage patterns.

It’s time to end the browser vs. apps “or” debate; it’s really about “and”.

[Source: Marketing Land]