Reaching Consumers Where It Matters (1)

The holiday season is officially in full swing! And with it is a dizzying whirlwind of social media campaigns.

Consumers’ attention will continue to be solicited. However, when 2015 is finally upon us, not every marketer will come out a winner.

Now, there is some great news. This potential to connect with shoppers has never been greater. A big chunk of the social sharing map is about to be charted.

This week’s roundup also takes a look at the way people engage with emails on mobile devices and what motivates them to recommend what they see.

Uncovering Traffic Beyond Social Sharing

In this technology-centric era, hitting the “share” button has become a daily habit for many social media users. Brands, bloggers, and marketers need that sharing data to understand where their traffic comes from.

Unfortunately, Web analytics programs cannot track every source, especially if the sources are emails, IM, and mobile apps. This phenomenon is called “Dark Social”. Coined by Alexis C. Madrigal, a tech editor at Atlantic.com, in 2012, the phrase stands for anything that lacks explicit referrer attribution in your traffic report.

How big is Dark Social? According to Chartbeat, it accounts for a third of external traffic to sites across its network. Mobile is in the 40% range!

The real-time analytics company was able to solve a part of the puzzle after discovering that a number of major mobile apps were now allowing identification and proper attribution.

“It’s still early, so Chartbeat is being cautious about over-promising, but chief data scientist Josh Schwartz told Marketing Land that sites are already seeing a 10 to 20% decrease in dark traffic, meaning they have a clearer picture of the source of that traffic,” Martin Beck writes in an article for Marketing Land.

The implication for brands and marketers is huge. Dark Social sharing is three times larger than Facebook sharing alone, as RadiumOne states in its latest study, “The Light and Dark of Social Sharing.”

Globally, Dark Social sharing makes up 69% of all sharing activity, with a big contribution from mobile (36%). Actually, for more than 3 in 10 users, it is the only “platform” they use, especially in France (39%) and Australia (35%).  Age-wise, the 55+ age group is the largest one (46%) globally.

Dark Social beats all other social channels combined. For example, North America is at 59% and Europe at 77%. And it frequently happens with content in the entertainment, careers, and travel categories.

Infographic: Dark Social Dominates Online Sharing | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

The phenomenon can easily be explained. In a day and age when privacy has become an important factor for many, Dark Social offers an intimate setting; users have more control over the visibility of their messages. This, in itself, is golden for marketers and brands.

“Dark Social is the more appropriate sharing environment for collaborative decision-making between close associates, friends and family members. When advertisers and publishers begin to understand Dark Social, they’re simultaneously receiving actionable information about an important part of the consumer decision journey, at the very top of the purchasing funnel,” says the report.

Now, what is the impact on clicks? While minimal overall (16%), results differ depending on the region of the globe. Australia, for example, generates the highest clickback rate (53%).

There is a way to understand Dark Social better: link shorteners. RadiumOne recommends Po.st. The tool creates (branded) short URLs for inclusion in email blasts, email signatures, text messaging, search and offline campaigns, QR codes, blog posts, videos, and press releases.

“We can detect which keywords and phrases are being copied and shared in addition to automatically adding a short URL linking back to the original web page at the end of the copied text,” says RadiumOne CMO Eric Bader. “Anytime a user engages with this short URL, or any other short URLs generated by Po.st, we can measure this activity and identify these engaged, interested users. For URLs copied straight from the address bar, we add a special bit of code to the links to distinguish and track them separately as they are shared and clicked upon around the Web. Wherever there is an opportunity to add a hyperlink, you can track engagement if you take the proper action.”

To read the full report, click here.

Email Opens and Mobile Devices

You are probably perfecting your end-of-year email campaign right now. Before you hit the “publish” button, read below.

Movable Ink recently released its latest quarterly U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report, which offers great insights into the way consumers engage with their devices.

Want to increase your chances of people reading your promotional messages? Optimize them for the mobile experience. Why? Because mobile accounts for almost 66% of all email opens! Smartphones, in particular, are at 48%.

Next, pay attention to timing. Smartphones may dominate throughout the day; yet, you will reach more desktop users during the mid-morning hours and tablet users at night and on weekends. 

Of course, all verticals are not uniform. Consumers in the retail, media, entertainment, and publishing industries open emails mainly from smartphones, while those in the automotive and financial industries favor desktops and read longer than the rest. Travel and hospitality are almost split equally in half.

Last, but not least, if you target specific areas in the U.S., know that the East coast, especially the Southeast, is more favorable to smartphones. The West coast offers a more balanced tapestry. 

“The U.S. Consumer Device Preference report confirms that sending responsive email is no longer a luxury, but a necessity to success,” says Vivek Sharma, Movable Ink.’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Office on the Movable Ink. blog. “Mobile devices continue to outpace desktop computers as the preferred device for email, putting an emphasis on responsive mobile ready email for holiday.”

Identity Plays a Role in Sharing Habits

Why do people share content online? That is the question Fractl tried to answer in one of its recent study. The company used an abbreviated version of the Social Science Aspects of Identity Questionnaire to survey 1,000 people based in the U.S.

The Link Between Content Sharing & Identity” reveals that sharing habits are heavily influenced by people’s relationships (83%) and personal values and standards (63%). Social media users share to entertain (44%) and educate (25%). Their recommendations also have to be an extension of who they are (20%).

identity sharing study

Photo source: LinkedIn

Now, let’s have a quick look at the differences between genders:

  • Men share more frequently than women. They also put more emphasis on popularity, race, and possessions.
  • Women, who expect more engagement for their posts, have values, relationships, and being a good friend or committed partner at the top of their priority list.

Feedback also plays a role, especially among young Millennials and older users. A quarter of respondents in the 18-21 and 65+ age groups would not share similar content again if they did not receive the expected amount of responses.

identity sharing study

Photo source: LinkedIn

The key takeaway for marketers and businesses? The report says it best: “Social media users are sharing content primarily to strengthen their social and relational identities – those aspects of themselves relevant to their relationships, friendships, values, and goals – rather than their personal, collective, or superficial identities.”

When crafting promotional messages and content, remember that you cannot please everybody. Segment your audience and pay attention to the personal and social characteristics they value the most.

“The Link Between Content Sharing & Identity” is available for free here.

We hope that this roundup will help you with your end-of-year marketing. “See” you next week for some social media news not to be missed!

Cendrine Marrouat
Paper.li Blog Staff Writer, Cendrine Marrouat is a French-born social media coach, curator, and author. She is the founder of Social Media Slant and the #smslantchat Twitter chat. Her latest e-book release, "The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It and Win", is a comprehensive guide focusing on the four pillars of audience building. Follow her on Google+.

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