Private messaging apps such as WhatsApp, direct messaging via social media, emails, etc. are all referred to as “Dark Social” by marketers because content shared through these platforms are particularly difficult to track and analyze. This is becoming an increasingly popular way for users to do their social sharing.
According to a RadiumOne report, 75% of social sharing now happens on dark social channels. Despite the difficulty, more brands are finding ways to take advantage of dark social and create strategies to broaden their reach.
Adidas was the first brand to utilize this idea with the creation of The Tango Squad, which they won the Social Buzz Award for best use of group/community in 2017. Adidas took control of dark social by creating a team of 1400 football obsessed brand advocates across 11 countries to help them further personalize their brand image. Adidas brought each team member closer to the brand, then let them create their own mini communities through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The young advocates were allowed to break news, star in content, meet professional athletes and then share their journey to create conversations in these small communities.
Starbucks is the most recent big brand following in their footsteps. They are using private social media groups to try to better engage their consumers and create deeper conversations while bringing product and marketing closer together.
“We do that with online panels but [that] is a less natural way for people to communicate and it’s not so interactive. You can do conjoint analysis on an online panel but I find that when it’s in more of a conversational environment, it allows us to be more dynamic with our questioning and explore what resonates.” Rueben Arnold, Starbucks’ vice-president of marketing explained while speaking at a social media event earlier last month.
It’s becoming a more natural way of not only discovering what customers are saying, but market trends as well.
What to Avoid When Using Dark Social
Consumers today are hyper-aware of obtrusive ads and sales jargon, and while it’s easy to regurgitate this type of content, it’s crucial to avoid when trying to create organic conversation. While consumers may accept this through other channels, dark social is meant to feel more personal and private. For a company to be accepted in to actually utilize dark social, consumers require more than just a sales pitch.
The next step is to forget formality. You’re not using the forum to broadcast messages or campaigns, this risks being perceived as ingenuine or out-of-touch. When customers are having conversations among themselves they don’t want to worry about professionalism. While you still want to be recognized as a high-quality, competent brand, you want the customers you’re communicating with to feel like they’re having a real and personalized conversation.
Lastly, avoid using traditional methods when monitoring dark social activity. It will never be able to deliver the high numbers marketers are looking for in terms of reach because it’s impossible to track. Brands need to rethink and create new ways to measure success of campaigns if they want to use dark social.
What TO DO When Using Dark Social
Create custom content when interacting with customers. Content that’s specifically created for a particular group increases the likelihood that they will engage on a deeper level, enabling your company to get the best results. Offer exclusive previews of promotions or products, give “behind the scenes” access, and find ways to add value for those actively engaging in your brand’s conversation.
Remember you can have two-way conversations. A lot of time the mistake gets made of treating these messaging groups like Facebook pages. If those a part of the forum just wanted to know more about promotions, they can go directly to the website or even sign up for email updates. While you can try to start conversations to get customer opinions about new promotions, they still need to be personalized and engaged.
What Onimod Global Can Do
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