Marketing: Dark Matter, Social Media, and the Number 96

If you’ve ever read anything from the field of physics, you’ll most likely be aware of the topic of dark energy, or dark matter.This theory is widely accepted among astrophysicists and suggests that around 96% of the universe is unobservable.

That is to say we are almost certain a huge volume of matter and energy exists beyond the atoms we can observe, but we are simply unable to actually measure it in any way

The same is true, in much less mysterious and dramatic fashion, of your social data.

96% of people talking about your brand do not follow you

In our analysis of gambling brands in the UK, we discovered that around 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles.


The reminder here is that vanity measurement – counting brand followers or likes as a metric for determining visibility or success – is fraught with complications.

Avoid the risk of missing the full picture by benchmarking and exploring beyond your following.

96% of online conversation is unbranded

This statistic is surprising in almost contradictory ways. The vast majority of online conversation, of course, does not feature any mentions of brands.


What’s initially surprising is that 3.6% of conversation is about brands.

That’s more than people talk about music, celebrities or even the news. That’s a huge volume of mentions ripe for analysis by brands seeking to listen to what people think.

The other element of surprise is that very few brands extend listening efforts beyond this 3.6%.

There is a wealth of value to be uncovered in the analysis of unbranded conversation.

Brand-agnostic research helped ASOS gain a series of insights about their audience that would have been impossible with brand-only Queries.


Getting to know your customers as fully-rounded people, rather than just soundbytes, can be a crucial advantage when it comes to maximizing the value of social data.

96% of brands take too long to respond to customer @mentions

When analyzing direct, @tagged questions to brands on Twitter, only 4% are acknowledged by the brand within the 15 minute window that many customers expect.


This number improves to around two thirds when a 24 hour period is analyzed.

This is better, but still points to plenty of room for improvement in both speed and frequency for many brands.

The potential of opportunity here is underlined by research that shows speed of response in social customer care is a far stronger cause of customer happiness than even solving the customer’s issues.

According to research by Khoros, 72% of consumers expect brands to responds to a complaint within an hour. The 88.8% of brands that fail to do this are clearly not meeting the expectations of their customers.

96% of untagged brand mentions are ignored

The outlook is far bleaker for brands’ ability to respond to indirect customer queries. When Twitter users mention brands, but without using any @tagging, a concerning 96%+ of mentions go ignored by brands.


The best customer service is a proactive, helpful approach – reaching customers before they even reach the call center.

This method saved British Telecom £2m in customer service costs.

96% of conversation about consumer tech brands happens on channels other than official brand accounts

The perils of monitoring owned channels alone can be great.

Analysis of consumer technology brands like Samsung, Xbox and Fitbit shows that only a small sliver of conversation about these products occurs on official Facebook, Twitter or other social accounts.


This number varies for different industries, with 91% for beer brands, 67% for financial services brands, 63% for supermarkets and 43% for brick-and-mortar retailers representing branded conversation occurring off-channel.

Clearly the opportunity to capture, curate and cultivate customer advocacy online often exists in places beyond where marketers expect to find it.

96% of people never use native geolocation check-in features on sites like Facebook

Location can be tricky for marketers. There are countless different ways to determine and measure it. But for those relying on ‘proper’ check-in usage among its audience, there lies a frustratingly small dataset.


Effective use of location data can be found in correctly-caveated and sophisticated approaches to the field.

96% of your unhappy customers never get round to complaining

Customer service and consumer sentiment are regularly measured in terms of inbound customer complaints and questionnaires among those that get in touch.

The terrifying part for most brands is that 96% of their unhappy customers never even let them know.

The overwhelming majority of disgruntled consumers don’t even bother to contact the brand – and damage is done by a loss of repeat custom, plus the more dangerous tendency to share negative reviews via word-of-mouth or social media.

It should be an imperative for brands to actively seek out unsatisfied customers, measuring the perception of customers and adapting accordingly – either through direct consultation with the individuals or upheavals in the operations of the business as a result of insights gleaned from their public despair.