Research: ‘Dark Social’ Sharing Triples Facebook Sharing

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The sharing of ‘Dark Social’, copying and pasting links from websites into email or instant messages and sharing with friends, is 3.5 times more common that Facebook sharing, according to new research from advertising platform RadiumOne.

The research also found that Aussies generate more clicks on privately shared content than any other region in the world.

In October 2014, RadiumOne undertook the first global study to understand and provide a complete picture of online sharing data across all social networks and private messaging platforms, with Australia being looked at as a key market alongside; North America, Europe, the UK and France.

The study titled ‘The light and dark of social sharing,’ concludes that advertisers and publishers are seriously limiting their social focus and marketing investment to activities that take place “in the light” on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest where sharing is publicly available.

Kerry McCabe, managing director for RadiumOne Asia Pacific explained that Dark Social provides valuable new and actionable social data, as the content tends to be directed to people who belong to the sharer’s real life “intimate” social network of friends, family and colleagues.

“Dark Social is one of the most valuable sources of social insights and intelligence because it represents the genuine interests of sharers and their targeted recipients,” said McCabe.

“For each Dark Social share, the content and the people it’s being shared with are selected for a very specific reason. This is very different data than that collected from public social networks, where sharing centres around what an individual considers okay for public examination. For both marketers and publishers it represents meaningful insight into real-time consumer interest and intent” he said.

The key findings of the study show Australians’ Dark Social habits are ahead of the global average in a number of areas:

  • In Australia, 75% of all sharing takes place via Dark Social versus 21% on Facebook. (Globally, 69% of all sharing activity takes place via Dark Social, versus 23% on Facebook).
  • 95% of Australians who share online use Dark Social channels (Global average = 93%)
  • 35% of Australians who share content online will only share via Dark Social channels (Global average = 32%)
  • When it comes to consumers clicking on shared links, Australians generate 3.5 times more clicks on shared links than any other region in the world. Dark Social in Australia generates the majority (53%) of all clicks on social links, even more than on Facebook (42%) and all other public sharing channels combined. (Globally, 16% of all shared content is via Dark Social versus 76% via Facebook)

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The study includes marketer and publisher case studies including a UK case study undertaken by TimeInc which found that in a typical month, there were 18,908 incidents of users choosing to copy text from the Marie Claire website and share it with a friend via email. This compared with 1,747 instances of users sharing content via Facebook and Twitter.

“Clearly Dark Social is too big to ignore, particularly in Australia where 95% of consumers are sharing via this channel. It’s a critical piece of the marketing puzzle, particularly for prospecting, and until now has been a large blind spot for advertisers and publishers,” said McCabe.

Dark Social generates high volumes of valuable real-time data – which can then be segmented and activated at the exact time when the consumer is showing genuine interest and intent.

The white paper goes on to highlight how RadiumOne helps marketers and publishers reach and convert new audiences with its data gathering sharing tools, integrated data management and delivery platform, and the globally patented ShareGraphTM technology.

View the full white paper here.

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