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What Content Marketing Is Missing Without Social Data

Does your content marketing team use social data in its strategy, planning, and optimization efforts? Probably not, and, I don’t want to be rude here, but even if your content marketing team does use social data, it’s probably not using it effectively.

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It’s probably not getting the most out of that data (owned, earned, and dark). It’s probably stuck on the surface level. The surface level can’t produce real change. Here’s exactly what you’re missing by staying there.

How Is Your Content Impacting Demand Generation?

Social data can tell you which of your web pages are being shared on which social channels. Let’s say you have a few different web pages you’re A/B testing to get people to buy your product or click through to a particular part of your site.

Social DataSocial is the primary content delivery mechanism to your audience today (and between your audience members–more on that later). Web data can tell you which web page is being visited more. Social data goes a step further: it tells you which of your web pages is performing better from specific social channels, i.e., Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. This means that you can build your content more wisely in the future, targeted towards the specific needs and audiences on each major channel for your brand.

For instance: Was that YouTube video worth investing so much time and money in? Did it really drive the demand gen results you were looking for? Should you be promoting the video on Facebook instead? Should you create a Facebook Live series to bring more attention to your produced video? What owned content can you create that will actually bring business value to your organization, by increasing the likelihood of sharing?

Which Content Are People Sharing Privately?

Dark social is website traffic that originates from a shared link, but does not pass a referrer and thus appears as “Direct” traffic in web analytics. It occurs as a result of consumers sharing URLs with one another through private social channels like Slack, email, Facebook message, and text.

Say you’re on, and you click over to’s web analytics will show “” as the “referrer.” They’ll attribute that traffic to Simply Measured.

But in many social scenarios, a “referrer” is not passed. For example, Facebook’s mobile app won’t pass a “referrer,” so that traffic will show up as “direct” or “no referrer.” Other types of earned media, like texting your friend a link, emailing, or sending a link via Slack, don’t pass a referrer, so they show up in your web analytics as “direct traffic,” and are thus unattributed.

How could this help change your content marketing game? Let me ask you this: Whom do you share your most intimate thoughts, desires, and plans with?

People who share content via private message are more likely to be further along on the buyer’s journey and closer to the goal completion your brand wants, whether that is making a purchase, visiting a particular web page, or opting into an email list.

Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 10.42.24 AM

Have you ever experienced an interaction like this in your personal life?

Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 10.57.53 AMWe usually reach out to our close friends, colleagues, and significant others via private message. This typically happens during three different stages of the buyer’s journey:

  • Consideration: One person messages another person when they learn about a new purchase possibility, i.e., “Did you know that Lululemon released a pair of new yoga pants that actually work out for you?? [INSERT LINK HERE]”
  • Decision: One person messages another person for advice about which product to buy, i.e., “Should I buy Lululemon’s work-out-for-you yoga pants or Prana’s work-out-for-you yoga pants? [INSERT LINKS HERE]”
  • Advocacy: One person messages another person asking for advice about a product or service, and the other person becomes an advocate for your brand: “OMG, you’re looking for new yoga pants?? You HAVE to buy these Lululemon pants! I just bought them and am IN LOVE. They work out FOR you: [INSERT LINK HERE]”

By using Dark Social data to understand which of your links are being shared via private message and actually converting, you can begin to make your content more “shareable” in a way that matters to your business.

What Are People Organically Talking About?

And how can you build content accordingly? Instead of trying to push content out to your target audience that you “think they’ll like,” or mimicking your competitors, why not base your content efforts on the solid foundation of real data?

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 1.11.03 PMGain insight into the earned media around relevant topics and your brand, and you’ll have a whole new swath of more-likely-to-work brainstorming content to draw from.

What’s the Context?

By knowing which social channels you are strongest on and which specific pieces of content–whether those be product pages, blog posts, or landing pages–perform best on each social network, you’ll have more context for what you’re building. This will make your work more effective, and more easily tied to business revenue–which is always good news for you and your team.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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