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:

Want to find your top posts/pages shared via Dark Social?

Here’s how.

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