The adoption of private communication channels including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, LINE and WeChat is accelerating. These ‘dark social’ platforms that once served a single purpose are developing into extensive content toolkits for privately sharing messages and media.
Facebook has also seized its IM platform’s opportunity to benefit brands, launching similar third-party extensions with partners including Spotify and OpenTable. Douglas Nicol, founder and partner at On Message, commented on the strategy's viability, “We’re living in a world where brands have to offer utility, service, and a great experience. App extensions allow brands to be truly relevant. Not just talking about themselves, but servicing a customer.” Nicol estimates that, in Australia in particular, chat extensions have seen a 57 percent increase in use, year on year.
Despite its nomenclature, the dark social world is not opaque. There are tools available to give marketers a clear view of how consumers are interacting on IM channels. A prime example, RadiumOne deploys sharing analytics, mobile analytics and smart links across clients' owned, earned, shared and partner assets. "We are working with many high profile brands across the region that are having great success leveraging dark social to achieve their marketing goals," says Charlie Baillie, regional director, Southeast Asia, at RadiumOne, "It is a powerful medium when fully harnessed."