Two-thirds of people now prefer to share content on private messaging apps away from major social platforms and profiles, a new study by GlobalWebIndex and We are Social has found.
These “dark social” platforms, a term used by marketers to describe referrals that are not easy to track, are becoming more popular as consumers feel more comfortable sharing content and engaging with others on forums and platforms that are not as public. Almost half of respondents said that they feel like they can be themselves in private settings.
While the word “dark” conjures up images of platforms that are esoteric and hidden away, the reality is that many are nearly as popular as social behemoths such as Facebook and Twitter. For example, 82% said that they use Facebook’s own Messenger to share content, while 56% turn to WhatsApp.
We Are Social’s Research and Insight Director André van Loon said that the findings pose a further challenge for brands that may already be struggling to keep up with relevant data and metrics. He said that the recent “shift” means that brands are often unable to find out what many consumers want to buy or tap into certain trends.
Van Loon added: “Increasingly, marketers will need to be sure to target and optimise their content so that heavy-lifting ATL awareness campaigns run at the same time as easy-to-share digital content, which consumers will then be free to use and discuss in their own time.”
The study asked 3,000 adults in the US and Britain about their content consumption habits and how they share links via private apps.