Dark Social: The Social Network That Is Bigger Than Facebook?

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Henry Brown 7 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #170983

    Bill Brantley

    An article from the Atlantic that is getting some buzz as “the alternate history of the web.”

    “This means that this vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs. I call it DARK SOCIAL. It shows up variously in programs as “direct” or “typed/bookmarked” traffic, which implies to many site owners that you actually have a bookmark or typed in http://www.theatlantic.com into your browser. But that’s not actually what’s happening a lot of the time. Most of the time, someone Gchatted someone a link, or it came in on a big email distribution list, or your dad sent it to you.”

    Having grown up during the time of the BBS and 1200-baud modems, I think the author has a point that current analytics is missing a good deal of the social traffic on the web.

    Agree? Disagree? What impact does this have on the social media strategies of the agencies?

  • #171003

    Henry Brown

    IMO interesting commentary from the air space.net
    The trajectory of the internet is thusly understood in the popular consciousness: the Internet started as a RAND-like project and slowly grew to incorporate research. With the introduction of the World Wide Web, businesses and blogs grew—aided by search engines—as users gradually adopted. And then, in the 2000s was the rise of the social networking site (the quintessential Web 2.0 service), and it has to this day shaped our everyday interaction and use, driving the nature of our sites/communications. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and even Wikipedia now are understood to drive our consumption of media.

    It turns out this is wrong. Or, at least, as writer Alexis Madrigal for the The Atlantic found: it doesn’t match the current data. He tells a counter-story to the above, prevailing narrative:

  • #171001

    Bill Brantley

    With a phenomenon as complex as the Internet/World Wide Web, it’s not surprising to see competing interpretations of the history and meaning of the Internet.

  • #170999

    Saw this…compelling – and it’s something I had been noticing in our own stats.

    Email is not dead. And there’s a whole lot more going on online that’s social beyond Facebook and Twitter…and there has been for some time.

    Lesson: Inboxes with a call to action for engagement are still your best bet.

  • #170997

    Bill Brantley

    @Andy – few technologies actually die; old technologies just become reinvented. As I write this, I am listening to a personalized radio station from the IHeartRadio app on my smartphone. And yes it is an 80s station.

    When you think in “this AND that” rather than “this OR that” you will have more innovation possibilities.

  • #170995

    William Lim

    “few technologies actually die; old technologies just become reinvented”

    A bit O/T but, that’s exactly why I don’t think paper will ever die.

  • #170993


    thank you for that insight out of a very complex conversation

  • #170991


    I see that all the time in my agency… I have an idea for a new initiative or tool or functionality. But I start digging and I usually find that it’s already been tried…the attempt may have even been memorialized with a still existing web page, that perhaps no one uses. but hey… it means i don’t have to start from scratch!

  • #170989

    Steve Ressler

    Totally agree – I’m always amazed how strong listservs can still be or fwded emails (especially among certain generations)

  • #170987

    Steve Radick

    The most powerful statement in this piece is this –

    “if you think optimizing your Facebook page and Tweets is “optimizing for social,” you’re only halfway (or maybe 30 percent) correct. The only real way to optimize for social spread is in the nature of the content itself.”

    The people, government agencies, and brands who we think “do social well” understand and embrace this.

  • #170985

    Justin Herman

    We actually have a strategy in place for government folks to freely begin deciphering their Dark Social — take a look and let us know what you think in “Feds Shed Light on Dark Social.” We’ve been spreading this through our Federal Social Media Community of Practice to find other solutions to this long-time obstacle for performance metrics.

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