Shedding Some Light On Dark Social… What Does It Mean for B2B Lead Generation?


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Dark Social MediaWe fear what we don’t know. How seriously then do we attempt to fathom the deepest, hidden, invisible actions and behaviours of our customers? Can we even do that? What does it involve? Let’s throw some light on the subject of Dark Social—I’m seeing a fair amount of interest and discussion about this lately. Why do I care about it as a demand generation specialist? Because it is another reason social ROI is so difficult to measure, and yet, it’s no excuse. Remember, it’s part of your 2015 resolutions!

So What is Dark Social?

It is a term used to describe all the sharing and observing that happens outside of traditional social media channels. For instance, you may have 10 followers who ReTweet your Tweet, but there may be many others who merely read your Tweet and don’t do anything with it. There will be others who share it via email, or print it off to give it to someone, or scribble it on the whiteboard in the office lunch room. These are all different ways in which your content is observed and shared; you just don’t know about it. There are audiences out there that are consuming your content by simply lurking, and keeping that content to themselves rather than sharing it.

Can You Measure Dark Social?

Question is, are there ways to find out more and track the invisible lurkers? I’m not completely sure yet. One research study by Stanford and Facebook shows a completely numbers-driven, fairly complex method of tracking this invisible data. Interesting findings, but how many of us have access to Facebook’s server log data? Only Facebook does. This study had several limitations and biases which the authors themselves admit. What we can gather from the study, though, is that our estimated social audience is typically, much larger than the actual reach that we can measure.

Here is a detailed, how-to article on ways to measure your invisible audience. Whatever the actual percentages of lurkers versus visible audiences may be (and they will vary, of course, for different organizations), we can safely conclude that lurkers outnumber those that are engaged. Our B2B lead generation plays strive to reach those cherished goals of greater engagement, more conversion, repeat customers, referrals, and so on. That’s what we have to focus on. In addition, we need to be aware of behind-the-curtain, under-the-hood, incognito, lurking audiences and anticipate their needs and expectations as well.

As B2B marketers, we probably have a much larger proportion of a ‘dark’ or ‘invisible’ audience compared with B2C. Goes without saying then, that while our content marketing strategy requires us to deliver to the expectations voiced or indicated by our known audience, it is equally important to keep in mind what the unknown audience is looking for.

While there’s no way to accurately predict these preferences and expectations, you can aim for success by:

  • Staying consistent with your frequency and type of content
  • Acknowledging market trends and delivering content that is relevant
  • Monitoring the growth of your visible audience as more lurkers come out of the ‘dark’ and into the ‘light’
  • Remaining committed to what you promise to deliver through all your content marketing channels
  • Encouraging the invisible to share and engage visibly – for example, some folks just don’t like to Tweet an entire blog post, but may be open to Tweeting a thought-provoking line or two within that post.
  • Taking to the communication platforms outside of social media that your B2B audiences are using – email, webinars, direct mail, phone, Skype, video-conferencing, tradeshows and seminars, etc.

What do you plan to do after reading this post? Close your browser and disappear or leave a comment below, share it, Like it, Pin it, Tweet it? No pressure! I have no problem if you want to be a lurker – lurk away! Remain invisible if you prefer, but you can also sign up for email updatesemail me or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.  And if you are finding this useful and relevant (I really hope so!), then think about someone else who will too. So feel free to share it!

End of shameless plug – thank you. Until next time, Cheers!

Image credit: Shutterstock

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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