Shedding Light on Dark Social Traffic

We continue our series on 2020 marketing trends with trend #5: Solving the Challenge of Dark Social Sharing.

Understanding Dark Social

It may sound ominous, but “dark” social traffic is a reality of today’s world. The term refers to the estimated 84% of all social sharing traffic that takes place in email, text, and private messaging. This sharing is obviously more difficult to track than the sharing that takes place in public digital spaces, such as sharing posts on your own page or interacting with posts in any way that is visible to others. As a result of “dark” sharing, content creators are unlikely to be aware of the full reach or influence of their content, since they are unable to track the full reach of their work. Because of privacy regulations on these social channels, which are usually a positive for the user, marketers can be challenged to accurately track return on investment, gauge the success of their content, and determine the source of their web traffic.

Cracking the Code

What can marketers do with limited access to this vital information? Smart marketers have already begun thinking creatively in order to better understand the web traffic their content receives. One solution involves creating unique phone numbers for each campaign that can be tracked through the internet. Similarly, urchin tracking module parameters (UTMs) can be used to create a unique URL that is associated with a specific marketing campaign or content piece. These unique URLs tagged with UTMs allow marketers to utilize analytics software to interpret information from the user, identifying which site the traffic came from, what campaign it applies to, what search terms were used, or what specifically was clicked. There are a number of analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and HubSpot, which can walk you through how to create a unique link and track it in relation to specific campaigns. Additionally, they can generate reports can provide you with more information about the sources of your content’s traffic.

Creating Shareable Content

Be sure to create interesting and engaging content that will encourage your audience to share it with others. This means that your content doesn’t always need to be directed toward selling your audience on a product or service. Light-hearted content and industry news and insights that convey your business’s expertise are more likely to be shared among your audience. While the content being shared isn’t necessarily driving direct sales, it will create a relationship between your business, your audience, and those they choose to share your content with. Conveying your business’s personality, values, and expertise can drive social sharing among your audience. Using these tips for keeping track of dark social sharing, you can better understand how your audience is interacting with your content.


Thank you for choosing Marketing Works to be your source for the latest and greatest trends in the marketing world!

Want to learn how to leverage these insights to drive your business growth and audience engagement? Our team of strategists and content experts would love to help you. Contact us by phone at (614) 540-5520 or via email at!



Scroll to Top