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


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


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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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]

The Science of Instagram


If you want to see data like this about your account specifically, check out the Instagram analytics tool released by Dan Zarella:


I do believe the story of the present and near-future of social media is visual content. From the impact of images and video on Facebook and Twitter to the new crop of media-centric social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, it’s clear that inbound marketers need to be turning out great visual content.

These are the findings Dan shared, after collecting a large Instagram database and analyzing it to identify the characteristics that make images work (or not work).

If you’re curious about the nerdy details of the dataset, there are details at the bottom of it.

[Source: Dan Zarrella]

The State of the Social Marketing Team 2015

Many companies are still trying to figure out how to tackle social media. They’re constantly asking themselves questions like, “Where should social media live in our organization?,” “How big should my team be?,” or “How should our social media team be built?”

To help address this common issue, Simply Measured surveyed over 350 social media marketers about their team structures and compiled their findings into this infographic! More information from the survey (as well as a separate look at the pain points these marketers face), download a complimentary copy of their 2015 State of Social Marketing Report.


6 New Facebook Features for Business Pages


Thanks to Social Media Examiner for this amazing article!

#1: Encourage Your Fans to Use the See First Option

Facebook now allows people to customize their news feed to prioritize updates from particular friends, groups and pages. This is great news for pages with good content, so fans can prioritize your posts.

Educate your audience on how to select to see your posts first in their news feed. There are a couple of ways to access the See First option.

The easiest way is to go directly to your Facebook page, click the Liked button and then select the See First option.

see first from page option

The easiest way to access Facebook’s See First setting is on the page itself.

Another option is to go to the full customization options (people, pages and groups) from desktop or mobile devices. To access it from a desktop, select the down arrow on the far right to get to News Feed Preferences.

access news feed preferences

Select News Feed Preferences from your menu in the upper-right corner.

Next, navigate down to Pages. Then view the pages you’ve seen most recently and click the tab to list the pages in alphabetical order. Click the Following button to customize those you want to see first.

news feed preferences

To customize your news feed preferences, click Following on the pages you want to see first.

This video will walk you through the desktop and mobile customization process.

When you have good content, people will want to see your Facebook business page posts in their news feed first. Tell fans how to add your page to their See First list, so you make sure they do.

#2: Check Out Upgrades to Facebook Conversion Tracking

If you’re using website conversion ads or website retargeting, then you already know there are two types of pixels you place on your website to track these events and custom audiences. Facebook recently announced a new custom audience pixel that combines these features into one pixel, which will help with tracking and speed, so the stats are more accurate.

Your current conversion pixels will continue to work, but eventually you should migrate to the new upgraded code. This involves placing the new code on your website, adding some code on specific pages you want to track and then removing the old pixels. Facebook’s post explains the process and gives you the exact steps to change to the new custom audience pixel.

pixel code changes

The new pixel code will replace the previous one. It will be faster and more accurate.

This is still in the rollout phase. Toward the end of Jon Loomer’s post about the upgraded pixel, he explains how to determine if your account has the new pixel enabled.

Ultimately the upgraded pixel will be good for marketers who are using custom audiences and conversion pixels with their Facebook ads, since it gives more accurate stats in reports.

#3: Get a Facebook Beacon for Your Local Business

The Facebook Beacon is a device you put in your local business that sends information to people who are on Facebook near you and have Bluetooth turned on.

Send people a welcome message with a photo, recommendations from their friends who have visited the store, a prompt to check in and more.

facebook beacon post

The Facebook Beacon boosts the visibility of your local business to nearby mobile users.

The Beacon device is free. All you need to do is request one from Facebook for your local page. It’s an excellent way to increase the visibility of your local business to people who are using Facebook nearby.

#4: Send and Receive Money on Facebook

Earlier this year, Facebook started rolling out the ability to send money between friends through the Messenger app only to users in the United States. This service will rival Google Wallet and make it easier for people to make “in-app” purchases on Facebook in the future. In the meantime, if your friends are clients, they can pay you through the Messenger app.

You can only use the Messenger mobile app with a debit card on file, not credit cards. Just click the dollar sign to get started.

send money option in facebook messenger

From Facebook Messenger you can send money to Facebook friends at no charge.

You can also use the desktop version to send money, but the icon is a little more hidden. It only appears when you open the message outside of the inbox.

send money option in facebook desktop

The desktop Facebook app also allows you to send money.

Facebook made this service available without a service charge, so there’s a benefit to using it over a service like PayPal, for example. However, as mentioned above, there are limitations: it’s only in the United States, you must be friends with the person and it’s debit card only.

#5: Create Saved Replies for Your Page

Saved Replies isn’t an earth-shattering change, but it can save precious time if you have a standard message you frequently send. Note: this feature is still rolling out.

To access your saved replies, first navigate to the Messages area of your page.

facebook messages tab

Access Saved Replies in the Messages area of your page.

To see Saved Replies, click on a particular message. The message will appear in a pop-up box and the Saved Replies will be on the left sidebar. From there, select Manage Replies to see all of the replies you’ve created or create a new reply. You can even search replies by keyword.

facebook saved message

Click on the message on your Facebook page, then select Manage Replies or Create New Reply.

Create generic replies for all of your frequently asked questions. Thencustomize them before sending them out.

facebook saved reply

Save a reply that you use often to save you time, and then take a moment to customize it.

Any new saved reply will be available to you in your Facebook Messages area.

This feature is currently only available for pages that have their Message button enabled.

#6: Watch for Lead Ads

Facebook is testing new lead ads that make it easier than ever to fill in contact information on mobile devices. If mobile users respond to an ad for something like a newsletter, business information, free report or follow-up call, they can submit their contact information (email address or phone number) with just two taps of a button.

facebook lead ads

Mobile users will easily be able to give you contact information.

Currently lead ads are only available for select businesses in closed beta testing.

Facebook is putting precautions in place to make sure this service isn’t abused. They are complying with the lead ads terms of service to ensure only page admins are able to export the .CSV with the lead information.

We will keep you posted when this feature is available on a wider scale.

Over to You

As marketers, it’s important to keep on top of all Facebook changes. While not all of these features have been rolled out yet, you can get a sense of what’s coming, as well as what trends may pop up in the future.

Use these new features to increase your business’s visibility and better connect with your customers, as well as to spark ideas of how you can improve your business flow and your marketing.

What do you think? What new Facebook features are you most excited about? Which ones are you already using? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Source: Social Media Examiner]

Parents and Social Media: How Mum and Dad use Facebook and Twitter


Parents use a variety of social network sites, with Facebook being the most popular. Usage rates for social media are similar to those of non-parents.

Fully 91% of parents1 in this survey use the internet. This is significantly higher than rates seen in the general adult population 2and among those adults who are not parents.

Parents Use a Range of Social Media Platforms; Facebook Tops the ListAmong these internet-using parents, social media use across a variety of platforms is common, with 83% of parents using social media.3 The most popular platform among parents (and non-parents) is Facebook. Almost three-quarters of online parents (74%) use Facebook, a proportion similar to the 70% of non-parents who use the platform. Online mothers are more likely than online fathers to use Facebook – 81% vs. 66%. This reflects broader trends in social media use. While men and women are equally likely to say they use social networking sites4, women are more likely to be users of specific platforms5 like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Mothers and fathers differ in their use of Instagram and Pinterest.

Parents and non-parents are equally embrace Pinterest and Instagram – among parents, 28% use Pinterest and 25% use Instagram. The greatest variation in use of the platforms is between moms and dads. Online mothers are more than twice as likely to use Pinterest than online fathers – some 40% of mothers do so compared with 15% of fathers. This echoes the popularity of Pinterest among online women more generally – they are three times as likely to use Pinterest as online men, 42% vs. 13%. A similar pattern emerges with Instagram. Mothers who use the internet are more likely than fathers to use Instagram, 30% vs. 19%. Again, this tracks with the broader trend that online women are more likely than men to use Instagram, 29% vs. 22%.

A quarter (27%) of online parents use LinkedIn, and 23% use Twitter. Again, these levels of use are consistent with the usage of non-parents. And, with these platforms, there is not a statistical difference in use of Twitter or LinkedIn between moms and dads.

There are few demographic differences among parents across platforms. Younger parents (those under 40) are more likely to use Instagram than are older parents, 33% vs. 18%. Parents of younger children also are more likely to be Instagram users. Among online parents who only have children ages 5 or under, 35% use Instagram. This is a significant difference when compared with the 22% of remaining parents with children over age 5 who use Instagram.

Parents — particularly moms and younger parents — are active users of Facebook.

Social-Media-Using Parents Use Facebook and LinkedIn More Often and Instagram Less Often Than Non-ParentsFacebook is not only the most popular social media site overall, it also has an especially engaged network of parents. Among parents who use Facebook, fully 75% log on daily, including 51% who do so several times a day. This proportion of daily users is significant compared with non-parents, 67% of whom log on daily, including 42% who use Facebook several times a day. Another 12% each of Facebook-using parents log on weekly and less often, respectively.

Moms who use Facebook are more likely to check the platform several times a day compared with dads (56% vs. 43%). Younger parents (those under age 40) also are more likely to use Facebook on a daily basis than are parents ages 40 and older. Some 82% of parents under age 40 log on daily, compared with 68% of older parents. Older parents are more likely to log on weekly; 18% use the site weekly vs. 7% of younger parents.

Instagram users also tend to log on frequently, although parents use the site less often when compared with non-parents. Some 39% of parents on Instagram use the platform daily, significantly less than the 54% of non-parents who do so.

Parents who are LinkedIn users are more likely than non-parents to use the site daily – 19% do so vs. 10% of non-parents. There are no statistically significant differences in how frequently parents and non-parents use Twitter or Pinterest.

  1. In this survey, parents are defined as those with at least one child under age 18.
  2. The percentage of U.S. adults who say they use the internet has fluctuated somewhat from survey to survey. This September 2014 survey found that 81% of adults use the internet at least occasionally, while 87% reported the same in a comparable omnibus fielded in January 2014.
  3. For more information on and detailed demographics of social media use among the general adult population, please see “Social Media Update 2014.”
  4. “.” Pew Research Center, January 2014.
  5. Duggan, et al. “.” Pew Research Center, Jan. 09, 2015.

[Source: Pew Research Center]

Image credit: FreePik