What are the best ways to use dark social for business? Our guide explains what ‘dark social’ is and how businesses can use it too boost their bottom line.
Dark Social: Is there a new channel that you should use in the area of social media to communicate with your customers on an equal footing? Many companies are already successfully using this type of communication and you can also use it to communicate with your customers on an equal footing — or at ‘eye level’, as the term goes.
What is Dark Social is all about?
Dark Social is not an independent channel, Dark Social is a collective term for sharing content via private channels such as groups or messaging apps. These include Facebook Messenger, WeChat and of course the mother of all messaging platforms, WhatsApp. But Snapchat is also one of the dark social channels exclusive of the stories feature and the discovery feed.
It is “dark” for two reasons. On the one hand, these conversations are not publicly viewable, so they remain in the dark for others. On the other hand, you can still say with a clear conscience that most brands are in the dark about how to enter this highly emotional world of users.
This already implies that dark social has by no means overtaken classic social media networks. Rather, conversations between exclusive groups are the “standard setting” of our communication. Sharing conversations and opinions publicly, for example on Facebook or Instagram, is really new.
However, since pay-to-play applies to most platforms and even the last teen has understood that his influencer is paid for the recommendation, more and more brands are focusing on the environment in which personal opinions still have a weight. Some even say that three quarters of all recommendations are made via dark social.
The best ways to use dark social for business
Innovative storytelling thanks to dark social
Some companies have been the pioneers in this area, and learned years ago how to best use dark social for business. And you can learn from these. As already mentioned, dark social is multifaceted. That’s why I don’t think there is one brand that makes good use of dark social. Speaking of groups, for example, Adidas landed a really great coup with this case:
Another brand that is completely rethinking WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger is an insurance company from South Africa, Sanlam. With their “Ukshona Gwelanga” and “Lives of Grace” cases , they use the classic messaging apps to get and keep users’ attention through innovative storytelling. This way, you can always access the user-relevant area – directly between the messages from friends and family.
Bionade came up with a clever short-term activation. By entering a WhatsApp group, which thanks to a new feature was set so that the group could only be used by the administrator, they published a live location. Behind this live location was a rickshaw that gave away the new Bionade water ice on hot days in popular cities.
This is how dialogue at eye level is achieved
It is hard for companies to really manage a dialogue with the user. As with any marketing measure, the goal is crucial. But one thing everyone should think about before venturing into the dark social realm: How can the dialogue be scaled?
When it comes to 1-to-1 communication, which is also to be carried out on an equal footing, a brand quickly realizes that it either needs an exorbitantly large community manager armada or clever solutions to automate this dialogue, for example – Keyword chatbot – or in the form of a group to communicate to everyone at the same time.
The example of Adidas shows very well what an indicator of success can be: permanent relevance through constant added value. The Tango group brought together people with similar interests. On the one hand, they are networked with each other and on the other hand they receive exclusive content that is only available to the group.
So if a brand wants to take a dark social approach, they should think carefully about where the added value of the dialogue lies. Quite simply: If you are invited to a friend’s living room and you bore him or her, behave rude or inappropriate, the chance that you will be invited again is relatively small. However, if you are a guest who tells exciting stories or appreciates the invitation to the most private of the host through exclusive offers, the chance is significantly higher,
In summary, this means that a brand should carefully consider HOW it distributes WHICH content to each individual user. Because it is not only difficult to enter the dark social hemisphere, but also to remain.