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Past studies estimated dark social was responsible for as much as 84% of all referral traffic. What about in 2023? No one knows exactly how much web traffic or social media mentions come from dark social because it’s dark social. That’s the whole point.

Don’t worry, dark social isn’t the same as the notorious “dark web” trying to lure you into evil. Dark social is the oldest social network in action: private, untraceable human-to-human communication. And it’s responsible for up to a shocking 95% of your web traffic.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can track dark social mentions and shares to find where people talk about your brand, what they’re saying, and how to reach new audiences.

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Bonus: download a free guide to learn how to use social media listening to boost sales and conversions today. No tricks or boring tips—just simple, easy-to-follow instructions that really work.

Dark social is sharing  content or b2b email list mentioning brands on private social media channels, including through direct messaging, email, private groups, and more. Dark social media, or dark traffic, isn’t easily tracked by traditional analytics tools. The term “dark social” was invented in 2012 by alexis madrigal, former editor of the atlantic.

Private messages inside native apps e.g. Facebook messenger, instagram, etc web traffic sources, if someone clicks a link to your website from an unsecured page. Referral sources are sometimes included. Private social media channels, such as closed facebook groups, private subreddits, or personal profile content shared only with friends/followers.

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Word of mouth, including podcast mentions, in-person conversations, or you and your bestie on the phone.
Dark social sources often can’t be measured because they’re private, like an email, or because analytics software can’t accurately categorize them — either because the source is hidden, or Buy Lead the link doesn’t have utm parameters. Hold tight: i cover what utms are and how to create them later.

It’s not a matter of if your customers use dark social platforms, it’s which ones. For example, have you sent an email today? A text? Talked on the phone? Browsed a facebook group? Then you’re on dark social a lot at multiple points during the day — just like everyone else.


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