What Is the Difference Between Dark Social and Dark Posts?

What Is the Difference Between Dark Social and Dark Posts? Matt Tesmond Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

So…what is the difference between dark social and a dark post?

In my work as a product specialist, I get this question all the time. The confusion is understandable due to the similar nomenclature, but never fear–I’m here to help!

It’s really an apples-to-oranges comparison. While dark posts (also known as unpublished posts) are ad objects, undoubtedly inside the traditional umbrella of social media, Dark Social has nothing to do with ads and doesn’t necessarily have to do with “traditional” social media at all.

Dark/Unpublished Posts

Let’s start with dark/unpublished posts. These posts are ad objects that appear in consumer timelines, but do not exist on the company’s social page. They appear as normal-looking posts, but have calls to action like “Learn More,” “Shop Now,” or “Like Page.” If you are reading this article, you have either purchased or seen these ads a million times.

Dark Post

But What About Dark Social?

Dark Social is an entirely different beast: it has nothing to do with ads. It refers simply to the private sharing of links via mediums that don’t pass a referrer in traditional web analytics platforms, such as email, Slack, Text, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.

When we break down the term Dark Social, “Dark” relates to the fact that these conversions are often falsely attributed to direct traffic in your web analytics tool. The “social” component comes from the fact that this is a social interaction of two or more people. If it makes it easier, just think “private sharing.” 

Dark Social data is absolutely critical, not just for social teams, but for your marketing organization as a whole. In fact, you should be viewing Dark Social as its own marketing channel, one that contains a goldmine of data. Right now, around 80% of all sharing is dark. 80%!!! These private shares represent consumers who are typically at the bottom of the marketing funnel and/or huge fans and advocates of your brand. These are people sharing links to your products so that their friends, families, and co-workers will buy them, read your articles, and share your quizzes to help determine “Which Wildlife Excursion Should You Try In Manitoba?” (looking at you, Buzzfeed).

These interactions are occurring all the time, and you are missing the chance to optimize your content for goal completions that matter to your business. You are missing a nuanced perspective on the social activity sitting in your direct traffic bucket. Using this data, you can learn which products, content, or other web pages resonate most with your audience, so you can transform your social, email, and ad campaigns around the topics people likely to buy and engage deeply with your brand care most about.

Hopefully you now have a good sense of the difference between Dark Social and dark posts. If you are interested in learning more about Dark Social, click below. We’d love to chat. 

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Matt Tesmond

As a product specialist, I help educate our sales team on all things social media, and make sure they have the resources to best communicate what makes Simply Measured the best Social Analytics solution on the planet. In real life, I’m a recovering tennis player, recent father of a fluffy four-legged monster, and still believe that #thedress was white and gold.