Social media is an important part of your website traffic. Google analytics can tell you how many people visit your site from Facebook, Twitter and other social media, but there’s an entire area lost to analytics. Dark social isn’t tracked by analytics and falls into the catchall of direct traffic.
It’s the black hole where everything Google doesn’t track gets lumped into. Direct traffic can come from 100 different sources, and it’s of little help to people wanting to do traffic analysis.
Overview of dark social
When you share content, Google Analytics is supposed to tell you where it came from. If your traffic comes from email marketing, secure website, WhatsApp and other sources, it’ll be placed into direct traffic. Many times, you can attribute dark social traffic to copied-and-pasted URLs into un-trackable platforms.
When someone uses an instant messenger and places a link, it goes into direct traffic. There are many ways to share content online, and dark social is a data hole that websites need to plug if they want proper analytics.
Why dark social matters
Understanding the traffic flow to your website means understanding the people coming to your site and why. When you can’t analyze that traffic, you can’t make informed decisions. When 100 people come to your site from Facebook, you might consider spending money to boost your posts
You won’t know if 200 people came to your site from WeChat or Snapchat. It might make you reconsider Facebook and put marketing dollars behind those apps. You might consider increasing your Snapchat stories.
Messenger apps such as Facebook can use chatbots to share content. Perhaps more important is the ability to have a complete understanding of the social activities of your customers and how you use owned, earned and paid content.
Google analytics seems slow to track these other forms of social media and as the years go on the landscape will continue to change. The WhatsApp and WeChat of today can be something completely different a year from now.
Analytics still won’t track it, so savvy marketers need to be on the forefront of popular apps and how you can leverage them for businesses.
Tools to track dark social
Google analytics may be unable to monitor these channels, but there are options.
Manual UTM tracking and segments. If you use email marketing, then you can manually track the URLs in your emails, so Google Analytics shows you the source. You can also create an advanced segment to track some dark social channels.
This requires you to be familiar with the advanced concepts of GA.
GetSocial.io. GetSocial.io is an app designed for tracking social media. You can use a WordPress Plugin to install, or you can paste a snippet of code onto your website. Once done, you’ll start tracking dark social.
ShareThis. ShareThis is a tool that lets people share content to friends through many target platforms such as email, direct message and text message. You can use menu options to begin tracking dark social. This also requires placing code on your site.
Dark social isn’t going away, and the failure to track it could negatively impact your business. Learn more about this subject and more by exploring our website.