The social web didn’t create sharing. It merely offers a structure and record of our published sharing.
While we are led to believe that the Internet pre Facebook/Myspace/Wikipedia was a lonesome, solitary expanse of cyberspace, Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic argues that from the very beginning the Internet was about sharing links and chatting with friends. The recent advent of the social Web Twitter/Facebook/StumbleUpon is just a highly structured, monetized, and publishable system for the kind of sharing that has always defined the Web.
For news sites, the most effective referrers of traffic are not the social media networks I mentioned, but what Madrigal calls “Dark Social,” all the emails/Gchats/IMs people send to one another that cannot be counted or tracked by analytics companies. Dark Social is all the kinds of sharing that happens “off the grid.” As social media drifts toward gently coerced advertising, Dark Social remains the Internet’s version of word-of-mouth, the most effective kind of marketing that cannot exactly be measured.
1. The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the ‘social’ iceberg. We are impressed by its scale because it’s easy to measure.
2. But most sharing is done via dark social means like email and IM that are difficult to measure.
3. According to new data on many media sites, 69% of social referrals came from dark social. 20% came from Facebook.
4. Facebook and Twitter do shift the paradigm from private sharing to public publishing. They structure, archive, and monetize your publications.