I’ve woken up all nostalgic.
I’ve just done the maths, and can hardly believe my sums, it’s 17 years since I had a career change to work in digital. I was so totally inspired by the potential of communication that I just had to jump ship.
The Internet has always been a place for communication, for sharing, for utility and alter ego. It’s an enabler for sharing; Sharing thoughts, ideas, creativity, new concepts and dreams.
Then the corporates got involved and we all tried to make money out of what was essentially a global democracy, all those 17 years ago.
The hype curve of boom, bust and then a hopeful recovery became the measurement du jour. Some won, some lost. Some started again from scratch.
Digital is as messy, inspiring and as frustrating as it always was all these 17 years later. Communication is still at the heart of it however, and none more so than social media.
I love social and its swift evolution, and of course as with ‘old’ web before it, the corporates have joined the party and are looking to social to communicate and engage with their consumers and beyond. Social is proving a really cost effective way of delivering to their commercial imperative. That said, Facebook as one of those corporates, is squeezing it’s natural organic reach, to ensure that we use paid for posts.
The efficacy really can be measured with whatever metric the brand wants to deliver, be it Intent to Purchase, Brand Advocacy, and much, much more. KPI’s really can be tracked and exploited. It’s a brilliant fast moving nascent science.
So in the spirit of hype curves past ‘dark social’ threatens to undermine the whole return of investment equation for brands and social.
Dark social is the phrase coined to describe the business of sharing content via email and instant messaging etc. Essentially sharing outside of the social platforms and therefore untraceable / measureable.
Recent data suggests that 72% of sharing is copying and pasting. That figure changes by market sector, so 61% of sharing of FMCG brands is via dark platforms, while banking is understandably very low (Who wants to share stuff about their bank!).
As social evolves and how we think about it evolves, dark social has become the bit that is really hard to measure, for now, of the social marketing mix. Let’s be clear it can be measured, however the ‘how ‘ is still quite controversial and costly making a massive dent in any ROI.
The question is should we, and the brands we represent, be worried about it?
Our view is not really.
Just like TV marketing, there are metrics in place to measure its efficacy. However, as we know, it’s not an exact science. Remember the infamous quote from marketing pioneer, John Wannamaker, who quipped ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half’?
In the ’old’ days driving consumers to brand via digital was like a darts match, you had to get them to the singular bulls eye. A single website destination of engagement.
Now it’s more like a pinball machine. You fire the content off, and it pings around the digital hemisphere, sometimes landing where it should, and scoring points, pinging off again, to score more points. Sometimes it will ping about, not scoring any points at all. But, importantly, it is still pinging about landing, just not scoring.
It’s the same with dark social; we can measure and score some points, not all. The key is that it is still pinging and resonating.
Arguably the more points you score where we can easily measure, especially if you’re creating fantastic quality content, the more people will want to share and engage with it, dark or otherwise. That’s got to be the aim, rather than if we can easily measure the efficacy, of the entire universe of engagement.
Creating good quality content that people want to share is the critical part of the engagement piece. If the content isn’t good, it won’t be going anywhere.
In my view that’s to be encouraged and embraced rather than try to control.
With the velocity of speed and change in the digital arena, you can guarantee that the sprit of hype curve future will always give us something else to worry about anyway.