In our ongoing efforts to make the weird world of online marketing more understandable, we've already talked about what dark social is and why it's good news for your company. A brief recap: It's when people share links and word of mouth with each other in ways that cannot be measured by marketing analytics. We even gave a couple tips on how to encourage this underground form of social sharing (big share buttons and short URLs).
However, the world of dark social is bigger than that. In fact, a study from RadiumOne has indicated that 69% of all global sharing is through dark social, with people engaging with your brand in ways that your ROI studies may not be showing. How can you tap into encouraging dark social activity in a more permanent way? We're glad you (theoretically) asked! Here's what to do:
Build More Social Activity
This is particularly challenging for B2B companies, because they don't have the same level of online chatter that B2C brands do. However, the efforts will pay increased dividends for that very reason: The more people talking about your brand, the more noticeable it will be (and the more dark social activity will result). So get people accustomed to talking about your content. Ask for comments, spark discussions or arguments, request suggestions or other information, and so on. Once viewers are used to typing about your brand, they will be more willing to do it in the future.
Thought Leadership: Make People Think
Dark social shares are far more likely if people can share content to prove a point, raise a question, or clear up some confusion. You need to become a source of these sorts of solutions – a thought leader, in other words. The bigger the splash your make, the more dark social ripples you will create, so don't be afraid to dive into deep industry analysis, the effects of political decisions, future trends that will make a big difference, new materials revolutionizing the way you work…we could go on, but you get the idea here. Thought leadership doesn't just get you respect, it gets you a lot of discussion benefits that you may not be able to measure.
Encourage Recommendations and Referrals
Recommendations and referrals aren't exactly dark social, because they can be measured. However, this also (once again) gets clients and leads used to typing out and bringing up your brand name. For every recommendation and referral that you can measure, there's a good chance that you're getting a couple behind the scenes as friends talk to and advise each other.
Encourage Employee Participation
Employee participation is one of the most common tactics for fueling dark social. We put it a bit farther down the list because it's more difficult for B2B companies to implement this tactic – but that doesn't mean you shouldn't work on it. When appropriate, encourage employees to share important deals or new products with their friends, contacts, and social lists.
Invite Leads to Forums and Discussions
Hold forum events, Q-and-As, and other online activities to help discuss your products – and then invite potential leads! This gets your brand into the channels most known for dark social, while also increasing your engagement. Preparation is key here: Get ready to explain important topics and offer valuable information.
Advertise Online Content in Your Offline Content
This is where QR codes, simply URLs, and other online plugs prove their worth. You can build up some dark social activity just by providing online cues in your business cards, flyers, handouts and other offline materials. Don't let such an easy step go past untaken!