Dark social sharing is the action of sharing a link by copy-and-pasting the URL directly from the address bar, and according to a first-party study by BlueGlass CEO Kevin Gibbons, that represents 87% of all content shares:
That study was lead over a period of three months from 01/12/2016 to 14/03/2017 on the BlueGlass blog:
Despite the ubiquity of share buttons, most people distribute content with friends, family and colleagues in a point-to-point manner by pasting links into emails or messenger platforms, rather than broadcasting content across social media.
In other words, visitors are much more likely to share content by sending the URL of a page through Slack, WhatsApp, read later apps, Facebook messenger, Twitter/LinkedIn direct messages and even email… than by clicking on built-in share buttons.
While specific to one website, and potentially not a representative data point, the results of this study are particularly interesting for three reasons:
- Most of us are certainly not tracking accurately most of the content sharing methods used on our online properties used by our audiences — most probably focusing on irrelevant social vanity metrics and attributing a lot of traffic to the “Direct” channel in Google Analytics.
- As a side effect, we may be missing some opportunities to optimize our web pages for sharing through those methods.
- Even more surprising, we may be over-optimizing — and therefore overloading — web pages with share button code that’s only used in about 10% of all content sharing
What’s in it for Social Media Managers: an opportunity to shed some light on a potential analytical blind spot by tracking — at least temporarily — the amount and sources of address bar shares, either with simple UTMs or with a tool such as Amigo.