Friday, 16 January 2015


I was chatting to digi-guru Steve Thompson the other day about 'Dark Social.'  Apparently, much to the despair of marketeers who have leapt upon insta-tweeting as the dernier cri of free media space (sorry, I mean, 'earned' media), we are all eschewing conventional social media as a way of sharing cat lolz and 'you know you were born in the 1920's if' listicles in favour of sending links to stuff we like to our actual friends via whatsapp, and messenger (of various iterations from BBM to hangouts, or whatever Google Chat is called now it's trying to be a bit cooler). 

'Dark Social' sounds like it should be sexier and more exciting than that, I thought, feeling a bit short-changed, but then digital can often seem that way (look, look, I have invented this amazing shiny round thing which will revolutionise transport as we know it etcetc ). I used to have a bet with a friend at my old work about how many times we could get 'intimate offline social networks focused around key passion points' into presentations before anyone realised we were referring to groups of mates watching Rugger down the pub. 

Of course, the web has always been a social space, but what Dark Social reflects is, probably, people's increasing unease with the exchange of vast quantities of personal data in return for being able to talk to their friends (facebook) in an easily accessible, public space, or being able to offer your witty 140 character epigrams to like-minded strangers (twitter) like some digital Oscar Wilde. It's also useful because there's a whole heap of things that are better shared privately - controversial opinions, a link to a youtube clip of Nosferatu because it reminds you of your boss, emergency kittens whilst you're in the middle of a board meeting and so on.

The challenge for marketeers is that it's harder to advertise to you if you're out of the conventional social space - they can't push dull messages at you and pretend you're engaged with it, simply because it's in your feed. It means that every brand with a 'content strategy' needs to work much harder to earn your attention, and make it genuinely interesting and clever. Guess what, you actually have to earn it.

I'm now just thinking of the last thing I shared on 'dark social'. I'm ashamed to admit it was a picture of Cindy Crawford's nipple. I wouldn't pop that on twitter - what would people think? Or on Facebook- what would my mum think?

No comments: