News & Views

Opinion / Post-Social Media

by Kristina Dimitrova

Gone are the days when a hashtag was the be-all and end-all of any social strategy. Now, marketers must contend with unmeasurable content on dark social and platforms that, at best, don't make it easy for brands link out to external sites. As the days of the oversharer are over and networks become a lot less ‘social’ and a lot more ‘media’, what are the challenges, opportunities and urgent actions for brands in a post-social world?

One of the biggest shifts in social media has been the rise of dark social. The term, coined in 2012 by Alexis C. Madrigal, contributing editor at The Atlantic, refers to sharing content outside of what can be measured by web analytics programs. Think emails, messaging platforms, texts, as opposed to sharing on your public social media profiles.

For marketers, this means metrics such as view, impressions, clicks and shares are not only difficult to track, but they might not be the right things to measure when determining the success of a campaign. And while dark social presents many challenges, we have started seeing companies embracing this new social order to talk directly to their customers and encourage them to spend more time with their brands.

Nike, for example, used WhatsApp to motivate its customers to work out. Athletes simply had to send their goals to the Nike team via the messaging app to receive tailored fitness plans to help them stay on track. The Nike On Demand campaign connected 240 users with Nike experts, who engaged in one-on-one chats, received running routes tailored to their location, playlist suggestions, VIP booking offers and even 6am wake up messages.

For the brand, this was a way to talk directly with customers and find out exactly what they wanted so that its content could be more relevant. ‘We’re enabling Nike experts to tap into the brand’s ecosystem to get answers that serve each individual person. At that point, the things you don’t know across different channels stops becoming a problem because you’re getting a whole different perspective on people and how they interact with the brand,’ said Anthony Baker, technology director at R/GA London, which worked on the campaign.

Opportunities in dark social are not only limited to having one-to-one conversations with your customers. Faced with the rise of dark social, pizza company Domino’s needed to find a way to stay engaged with its mobile-first, internet-native audience who shared the majority of content within messaging apps and texts. The company worked with Iris Worldwide, London, to develop GIFEELINGSa collection of lol-worthy GIFs to let consumers express all the feels when it comes to pizza. The collection included 67 GIFs and was hosted on GIPHY. While at the core of the GIFs is the love of pizza, their branding is carefully considered and quite subtle. In many cases, the only hint at brand involvement is a watermark logo, as Dominos knew that one step too far would make people deem the GIF as ‘advertising’ and therefore not cool or shareworthy.

The results? Since launching in April 2016, the GIFs have been viewed 145,736,857 times to date. The Domino’s ‘Heart Hugging Pizza’ GIF has been viewed 33,158,213 times and is the number one search return for ‘GIF’ on Google. The agency shares that while they have been unable isolate the business impact of GIFEELINGS, during the key campaign Domino’s saw 18% YOY growth and 26.6% YOY total eCommerce sales growth. That’s a lot for a heart hugging pizza GIFs.

The reason I love this project is because instead of creating a traditional campaign that talked at their consumers, Domino’s armed them with content that they could participate with and share. As a result, fans became the ultimate media channel doing the marketing.

So while dark social is still a challenge for marketers, having the right type of presence in these closed spaces presents a lot of opportunities to get closer to your customers, foster brand love and, ultimately, contribute positively to your bottom line. Join us on 9th May for Now Next Why, where we will be exploring the topic in more detail. 

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