Dark social sharing
A while ago a conversation was building up about the looks of the new Disney Beast in a WhatsApp group shared with my closest girl friends - we agreed that it was too handsome, too human, not 'beasty' enough! It was at the time of the release of the Beauty and the Beast trailer and the biggest take-away for us seemed to be the CGI on the Beast. A closeup of the beasts face even became a group image icon for our WhatsApp group for a good two weeks.
In any case, we were sharing the trailer and engaging in a conversation about an upcoming release in a private chat. The marketeers will not know that we did it and no one else will see it.
However, the job was done and the three of us were equally excited to see how our childhood number one animation was remade, acting as peer advocates, almost as approvers for each other to go and watch the live action princess fairy tale - we are all 26 after all.
In Warc's 2017 Toolkit an article looks at the implications that the rise of 'dark social' has on marketeers as seen from the proliferation of chat apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Messages and WeChat.
According to the article, the term 'dark social' refers to social sharing and conversations that take place in private chats and that are ‘invisible’ for marketeers, they exists outside of what can be measured by web analytics programs.
84% of social sharing actually happens through dark social platforms where as 90% of social media marketing investment is on public social platforms.
The above statistics are from a marketreach,inc. article.
What the Toolkit article suggests is that social marketing might see a shift towards conversations as the impact of dark social is being recognised.
In reality conversations in chat apps are similar to face-to-face interaction - it is more honest unlike public social media that often has an unspoken pressure on users to post impressive content or content that is in line with the sharer's ‘brand’ or image.
The article argues that delivering conversational experiences will be a wholesome challenge for brands and require new approaches to brand’s tone of voice.
From my personal experience link sharing should be made easier to dark social platforms. Spotify is a key provider who’s content I have shared in chat apps. Once you click to share a song the service asks whether you want to publish the song or share to a friend. Options included in the latter are email, text message, WhatsApp and Messenger. I believe these sharing tools are vital for trailers too, enabling the user to share immediately via Messenger and WhatsApp, and encouraging to do so as well.
Here is an example of me trying to share La La Land trailer to a friend. Rather than having the Messenger logo as a share option where it could actually give the user the idea to share to a friend privately, the option is hidden in a new window, after all the other possible shares. These are tiny changes, but I think there could be potential there.
After all, if a friend sends me a private link, I will pay more attention. I have actually grown pretty ignorant to publicly shared content via Facebook and Twitter because of this earlier mentioned pressure to impress. Users are sharing content publicly that will contribute to their online image, rather than actually recommend it directly to me. If the shared content then has a conversational nature to it, the interaction will continue.
Another Warc article points out that chat apps will overtake Facebook as the number one social format in the world within the next 18 months. The article continues to argue that 'brands must find a way of adding value to earn a place in chat and "dark social" conversations, as likes and followers will no longer be representative metrics of success.'
Here is another good article about dark social and mobile sharing.