Q: When is Direct traffic not Direct?
A: When its actually Social
One of the lesser known places to turn when investigating the effectiveness of social media for your brand is to analyse Direct visits.
Traditionally, Direct visits has been thought of as people who either:
- … type your URL directly into their browser, or
- … have previously visited your page, bookmarked it, then returned via the bookmark
However nearly every brand will find that if they examine their top landing pages visited by first time Direct users, this will contain dozens of *long* URLs.
How are these first time Direct visitors, landing on these long URL inner pages – since clearly nobody is typing in these long URLs?
In 2012, Atlantic editor Alexis C Madrigal investigated this mystery, and in the process coined the term ‘Dark Social’.
Dark Social happens when visitors consume your content and share the URLs with friends outside of traditional social media platforms – eg. via email, word/PDF documents, SMS etc. To an analytics package, this looks like Direct traffic, but is in fact, social. If you think about your own sharing behaviour, Dark Social sharing is typically with people you have very close relationship with – making this ‘traffic’ very valuable, since it is highly trusted.
Here are our top 7 posts shared via Dark Social this year:
- Minimum Viable Marketing – this post continues to go viral amongst Tim Ferriss fans
- The Human Experiment / Manila Folders – this was a case study of a 2 week social media experiment we ran this year
- Warlords & Scumbags – this being in 3rd place was a surprise. Not sure why this so resonated?
- I quit Social Media – this was a response we had to this week’s news of Instagram celebrity Essena O’Neill quitting social
- Book of the Year: Team of Teams – this post was shared by fans of the author, General Stanley McChrystal
- 15 to do’s in ’15 – this was a list post shared by our followers at the start of this year
- The 7 posts that redefined marketing – another list post, which by nature are highly sharable
Want to find your top posts/pages shared via Dark Social?