How to Track the Untrackable: Social Media and Word of Mouth

Have you ever desperately wanted to be included in something that you weren’t privy to, wishing that for a brief moment you could be a fly on the wall, infiltrating what was being said?

Wouldn’t we all like to know who actually shot JR?

Or how does one become a taste tester for Ben and Jerry’s?

We all want to shed light into our areas of darkness.

And so do those of us in the event business.

Dark Social

Social media has been an online marketer’s best friend since its inception, not only because it can spread their messaging far and wide, but it can also be tracked (for the most part).

But tracking social activity has become harder due to the rise in use of what is referred to as dark social and it’s become a problem for those of us who want to track engagement level.

If this is a new term to you, dark social simply refers to content that is not shared via social media but through other channels like messaging apps, email, and texting.

It’s estimated that 84% of online sharing now happens via dark social so it’s not something that should be dismissed.

Not to mention that it really messes with the trackability of social campaigns.

So how should you approach this dilemma and use it to your advantage?

You take a walk on the dark side.

Shedding Some Light

Tracking peer to peer sharing isn’t impossible but because we could quickly wade into the technological deep end – I prefer to avoid that route –  I would like to instead share with you some easy to implement (and understand) ways to help combat the darkness and gain more control.

Use Influence

Most brands choose an Influencer with a large following to promote events but sometimes I like to go against the grain and hire micro-influencers who, by the way, often don’t get the credit they deserve when it comes to the kind of influence they can have regarding promotion.

Micro-influencers can have a big impact when it comes to dark social.  They tend to appeal to specific demographics due to the fact that they are very niche oriented which is great for targeting particular audiences.  And because micro-influencers are trusted they tend to have a more loyal and engaged following, meaning users are more likely to spread the word.

Make it Easy

Simplifying the user experience is always a good idea so having content that’s easy for attendees to share – like a visible share button that will automatically use their preferred communications channel – increases your chances of it being shared without the untrackable nature of the copy and paste method.

Here are a couple of things that I have implemented to make my life easier…

  • Using trackable links that better identify the origin of the traffic, try bit.ly
  • Using text messaging – it’s a great way to get the attention of your audience, and hey, 98% of texts are read, unlike email.
  • Add the Facebook Messenger chat widget to your website.  The plugin is easy to install and when you’re done you can have conversations while providing direct links to event ticket sales, information, etc.

Be Strategic

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  It’s something that I’ve done with much success…I advertise on Facebook (exclusively!) a special meet and greet with yours truly on day three of my event.  A week prior to the meet and greet I announce that due to the huge response I’ve received – to my free event – registration is a MUST.

The beauty of this is that I can get an estimation of how many people are looking at and engaging on my FB social account.  Only then do I open up registration at the show to see how much the dark social/word of mouth got around. Don’t forget to take an actual headcount at the meet and greet (or whatever event you choose).  It’s an effective strategy that allows me to meet some really fascinating people in the process. Total win-win.

Remember this:  Just because it’s not easy to track down every lead, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable and that you can’t work it to your advantage.  If you always focus on the solution, not the problem, you’ll find the light every time.