Ever found a really interesting article and wanted to share it with someone, so you copied and sent the link via email or WhatsApp? Then congratulations, you have engaged in dark social!

Dark social traffic is difficult to track

The term dark social refers to traffic from private social channels, such as emails and messenger apps. Because the traffic comes form private platforms, which don’t have a tracking code, analytic platforms are unable to track the origin of the traffic, and therefore often classify it as direct traffic instead.

This is problematic, as without knowing where the traffic comes from, it is hard for companies to track the success of their marketing efforts.

So how can you measure traffic from dark social?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to track 100% of your dark social traffic. However, CuCo’s experienced digital team have summarised some steps to help you narrow things down. Here’s their top tips for tracking dark social traffic:

#1 Google Analytics

As great as Google Analytics is, you won’t be able to log into your analytics and find a section named ‘dark social traffic’ (at least not yet). However, there is a way to at least narrow down  where the traffic comes from:

As mentioned earlier, dark social traffic is often labelled as ‘Direct Traffic’ by analytic tools. Therefore, go to Audience > Overview and click on the ‘Add Segment’ option. From the list of segments, select ‘Direct Traffic’ and click apply. To narrow it down even more, go to Behaviour > Site Content. The result will be a list of all pages that have been accessed via direct traffic. Finally, filter our all pages that are easy enough to be typed into the search bar manually, such as /about us, /blog, /contact by using the ‘advanced’ filter.

Once applied, you will be left with a list of long, hard-to-remember URLs, which carry no referral data with them. These are likely to be your dark social traffic!

#2 Use Dark Social Analytic Tools

If you find creating segments on Google Analytics too complicated, or you just want to quickly see how much dark social traffic you may have, using a dark social calculator such as GetSocial might be a good tool for you. The calculator pulls data directly from your Google Analytics account and estimates a percentage of how much dark social traffic you may have.

#3 Include tracking codes and share buttons on your site

If people are going to share your content through private social channels anyway, why not make it easier for them, whilst also increasing your ability to track it at the same time?

That’s the idea behind share buttons! It creates a smoother process for people to share your content, which enhances the user experience, but also enables you tracking code to the link so that you can see where the traffic comes from! A win-win situation! Great sharing tools include ShareThis and Po.st.

Need some help understanding your website analytics or dark social traffic? Our experts are here to help! Get in touch today.