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“Dark Social” Could Open a Whole New Audience for Pharma

If your brand is using the internet to leverage your digital advertising campaigns, chances are you are neglecting over two-thirds of your social media impact.  Compared to the popular social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, the term “Dark Social” refers to the content being shared through more private forms of digital communication.  According to Alexis Madrigal who coined the term when he was at The Atlantic, the majority of dark social is comprised of the emails, instant messages and texts that users send every day.  This presents an abundance of new data for pharmaceutical/healthcare marketers to dig into to expand the brand’s opportunities.

The value of dark social is in the intimacy of the contact.  Friends and family communicating through email have the ability to send recommendations of products and content in the form of URLs to each other outside of the public eye.  Recipients are then compelled to interact with these links, giving the brands the ability to retarget the individual.  More importantly, the personal recommendation from a friend holds more weight than a display ad on a web page, and brands should understand that.

A more recent article by Madrigal, now at Fusion, claims that most of dark social traffic is actually coming from Facebook, particularly from Facebook’s mobile app. If this is true for your brand, imagine the implications of a content campaign or paid advertising campaign on Facebook.

How can we track this information, you ask?  Some vendors have installed trackable code on their URLs that can be carried through the copy/paste mechanism.  Users are more likely to copy/paste a long URL, rather than enter it manually.  This does bring up some serious privacy implications, however.  Tracking users’ interactions through private emails, on top of this information being medically sensitive, is an obstacle pharmaceutical brands and agencies must take into consideration.  On the highest level, the collection and analysis of this data would be invaluable in understanding your brand’s audience.

Here is a good resource to begin to track your dark social traffic:
5 Tools to Track Dark Social Sharing

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