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When it comes to tracking blog content, chances are you’re tapping into multiple metrics to analyze results. Total visits, sources of traffic, social shares, and unique visitors are some of the more common stats marketers use to gauge blog performance, but there is one metric that commonly gets overlooked: dark social shares.

Dark social refers to any share that takes place over more private communication channels such as email, text, and messaging apps (i.e. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp). Marketers who aren’t tracking dark social are missing out on a key metric since 84% of shares happen via dark social – and this can’t be measured by analytics that only capture sharing activity on social networks. This lack of insight leaves marketers in the dark about which content is really trending or going viral. And without this insight, marketers can’t take the right actions to engage and grow their audiences.

It makes sense when you think about it. Use your own online behavior as an example. How often do you share a webpage publicly versus sending it to a friend or family member privately? Chances are you’re sharing content more often via the latter method. When you combine this with the fact that users who share content are 9x more likely to convert, dark social goes from a “nice to have” metric to an essential part of how a brand should be tracking results.

I mentioned blogs as an example earlier, but dark social should be tracked across any webpage, inclusive of product pages, homepage, and really any page where a person might share with another user. For example, tracking dark social for all of a brand’s products will allow the company to better gauge how content shares are really impacting traffic and sales instead of analyzing just public social shares that account for only an average of 16% of all share activity.

The value of dark social isn’t just limited to the insights and data it provides. These engagements are important signals of interest and intent that should be leveraged for any paid media. This is a tactic we regularly implement to convert users who engaged with Influencer content into sales / leads.  When a user engages with a brand’s page or influencer content (i.e. a blog post), we cookie users who shared this content both publicly and privately (via dark social) and the recipients who click back on shared content. From there, we develop targeted audience segments from these high value engagements and then target them programmatically via display with action-oriented messaging to drive those users further down the conversion funnel.

When planning your next Influencer campaign, or really any marketing campaign, make sure to have a plan for integrating dark social tracking in order to gain better insights and drive better results