Have You Heard of ‘Dark Social’?

By Emma Fitzpatrick      

Back in 2015, the median number of shares for a story posted on social media was eight. Last year, that figure had fallen by half, to four shares.

Part of that plunge in social sharing is undoubtedly due to the algorithm changes that hurt businesses and publishers. But there’s another major factor here: dark social.


That’s where consumers do 84 percent of their sharing now. Meaning, people are sharing more articles on platforms that marketers have a hard time tracking—like messaging apps, email, and text messaging. In essence, people now prefer to share privately, instead of publicly.

Over the last two years, people have been talking and communicating more than ever before. Of course, that means more social media posts, emails, and video chats. But the biggest increase has been in messaging. Sixty-seven percent of people say they use messaging apps more now than they did two years ago.

Now, according to a report by Facebook, 80 percent of adults and 91 percent of teens send a message at least once a day. And the popularity of messaging has replaced other forms of communications for 51 percent of people. All of that adds up to more than one billion people and businesses sending over eight billion messages each month. That’s four times as many as the year prior.

In fact, messaging apps are so popular that the top four apps now have more monthly active users than the top four social media apps.

Messenger apps continue to grow exponentially, according to Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report. As messaging companies grow their user bases, their capability expands as well.  They want to become the go-to communication app.

With all that said, we can be sure of two things: messaging app usage is going to continue to grow. Is your bank ready for change?

Here are some tips for better handling a growing influx of messages.


  • A fast response is expected. Those who message your bank expect an answer faster than if they had used a more traditional form of communication. So, you’ve got to deliver ASAP (and definitely within 24 hours). If you’re not monitoring your Facebook inbox 24/7, pen an “Away” message people will be sent automatically during those times. Here’s how.
  • Set expectations. Did you know you can change the response time that people see on your Facebook page? It’s as simple as clicking “Settings” at the top of your page, then “Messaging” on the left, and finally “Response Time.”
  • Answer smarter. Feel like you have 10 questions you get on repeat? You can stop typing out individual responses to by creating saved replies to send instead. Try it out.
  • Make your message visual. People who used visuals were 59 times more likely to say they had “great conversations” compared to those who don’t. Sprinkle some emojis in your bank’s messages. Or add a dash of GIFs if you want to kick it up a notch.
  • Seriously consider a chatbot. Chatbots can help you meet customers’ expectations by answering questions with lightning speed. Plus, chatbots can save you serious amounts of money and time. Research published by IBM indicates that they can answer up to 80 percent of routine questions, which could reduce customer service costs by up to 30 percent. Getting one up and running doesn’t have to be as costly as you’d expect.

 Want to learn more about how to take hold of dark social, specifically text messages? Hunter Young from Mabus Agency will be presenting a session on Text Marketing that Drives Better Banking Behaviors at the ABA Bank Marketing Conference in Baltimore.

Emma Fitzpatrick is a Philly-based freelance writer and marketer, whose specialties include content marketing, social media marketing and short, snappy writing. Pick her brain at [email protected].