New research has found that 91% of UK consumers use ‘dark social’ channels alongside social channels when sharing information online.

Any inbound web traffic which is untrackable via web analytics is considered ‘dark social’. For example, when content is shared by copying and pasting URL links to forums, instant message or emails instead of sharing the link via social networks.

The RadiumOne report, ‘The Light and Dark of Social Sharing – harnessing the power of consumer connections’, provides an overview of online data sharing habits across the social networks and messaging platforms of 9,027 consumers in key European markets, North America, and Australia.

It is claimed that by limiting marketing investment and focus to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, publishers and advertisers are in danger of overlooking a large portion of their online audience.

Too big to ignore

“Dark social is simply too big to ignore,” claims Rupert Staines, managing director of Europe at RadiumOne.

“Sharing in the dark outstrips Facebook and all other social channels combined by three-to-one, yet many brands are currently unable to understand this untapped audience.

“Acting on dark social presents a huge opportunity for brands to improve their ROI from their social media and digital marketing investments.”

With 26% of UK consumers only sharing in the dark, brands without a dark social strategy are unaware of over a quarter of online consumers, reports RadiumOne.

Invaluable data

Moreover, 74% of all online sharing activity in the UK takes place via ‘dark social’ channels, compared to a mere 19% via Facebook and 7% on all other social channels combined.

The study argues that dark social propagates high volumes of invaluable real-time data which can be revised and triggered at the optimum time when consumers are displaying interest and intent to purchase.

The more popular themes discussed on various social channels include pets, being the most popular topic at 81%, followed by family and parenting and society, with the information shared within dark social channels being more of a private nature such as personal finance, property and careers.