‘Dark social’ is where consumers share text, images and links via emails or instant messages, and selectively share with their ‘intimate social networks’ rather than posting onto public social networks.
The advertising technology company’s first Southeast Asia report of ‘dark social’ trends showed that email and IM sharing is a larger consumer-sharing channel than all public social-network sharing combined, accounting for 90 percent of consumer online sharing of a brand’s content.
Kerry McCabe, RadiumOne's managing director for APAC, said that for each dark-social share, the content and the people it’s being shared with are selected for a very specific reason.
“This is a large and valuable new marketing channel for 2016 and a critical piece of the marketing puzzle that connects the investment brands are making into owned and earned channels with paid media effectiveness,” he said.
“In other parts of the world we see this channel as particularly effective for prospecting and lead generation, where brands are gathering and activating this data programmatically.”
McCabe said that harnessing sharing behaviour across email and IM offers significant opportunities for brands to reach a previously untapped audience.
In October 2015, RadiumOne social data found that in Southeast Asia:
- Hong Kong consumers share the most content via dark-social channels, with 93 percent of sharing behavior occurring through instant messenger and email, closely followed by Malaysia (91 percent) and Indonesia (90 percent).
- The Philippines is the most active sharing nation, and also the most receptive to shared content. In October 2015, consumers in the Philippines generated more clicks on shared content than all other SEA countries.
Research firm TNS recently released a report that shows instant-messaging users in Asia are far more active than social-media users, with 61 percent of internet users in Asia using chat apps every day, compared to 43 percent using social networks daily.
Brands looking to take advantage of dark social channels need to recognise that sharing activity trends toward lower levels of relevance and higher levels of virality, offering insight into what is valuable enough to share one-to-one or one-to-few.
Ensuring that effective tracking is in place to capture dark social activity along with links to drive back traffic to a brand’s original content are some of the checklist items the Content Marketing Institute recommends for harnessing dark channels.
Iflix, a Southeast Asian subscription-based Internet TV service, utilised live social data in its launch campaign, which was designed to gather and activate data on engaged entertainment lovers and their intimate social networks.
Since May, the ‘always on’ fully automated Iflix campaign has seen over half (52 percent) of all new subscribers to the streaming service converted through targeting refined via learnings from ‘dark social’ sharing data.
Mark Britt, iflix Group chief executive said the company knew that whilst these entertainment lovers shared high volumes of digital content with each other, there was also a lot of sharing occurring outside of public social networks.
"By harnessing dark social to complement our existing strategies, we cover all bases, and ensure we have a comprehensive view of consumer sharing behaviour across all channels and devices, whilst protecting the privacy of our most important stakeholders, our customers,” he added.