Consider this: You’re on your lunch break, scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed when an interesting article pops up. You click on it and think, “My co-worker Mary would love to read this!” What do you do next? Share it to her wall? Probably not.

Chances are, you copy and paste the URL into an email or chat box and send it to her privately.

Your buyers do the same thing. When they do, it’s called dark social.

Dark social is the likes, shares, and comments that happen when no one is looking. Tracking that engagement is impossible, unless you format your posts correctly.

Tracking Dark Social

To track what happens behind the scenes of each post, you must create a trackable URL.

The best way to do this is using Google’s URL Builder. Simply plugin the URL, your campaign source, medium, and name, and you’ll get a unique URL.

Then, when you login to your analytics tracking software, you can see how many people viewed that URL. Chances are, the numbers will vary from what you saw from your social media insights alone.

What It Tells You

So why go to all the trouble of creating custom URLs and tracking each specific post on separate social networks? Because you can learn a lot from it. Here’s what your dark social analytics are telling you.

What Your Buyers Want

The buying process for most products or services is longer than a single step. Unless your product is a last minute purchase type of product, chances are your customer will need to think about it before she buys. One step she’ll likely take is sharing your information with a friend for feedback.

Tracking what’s shared over social media will help you understand what your buyers want and what they’re considering during the buying process.

What Gets Influencers Talking

Your buyers aren’t the only ones sharing your content. Your influencers are too.

Track what’s getting influencers talking and what happens when your link is shared on social media by others. With dark social, you get a more realistic idea of what the industry wants to hear rather than guessing where the surge of traffic came from.

What Gets Your Audience Excited

Many times, content shared on social media isn’t about sales. It’s about something desired.

Get to know what excites your audience so you can give more of that content. The more value you share, the more exposure your brand gets – and that exposure will ultimately help drive sales.

Are you paying attention to dark social? If so, what have you discovered through this valuable analytic that’s helped your marketing efforts?