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Most of the impact of social media is in the form of dark social, a difficult to measure (but no less powerful) force that builds businesses in secret.
Social media is never going to get the credit it deserves for driving commerce, and there’s a simple reason why.
(watch video to see the awesome Piquadro bag I describe)
On my first trip of the year (to New York City) I was able to take on the road for its maiden voyage my brand new laptop bag that I got for Christmas from my fantastic wife.
It is this amazing Piquadro leather backpack, which is awesome. Not only is it quite lovely in my estimation, but it has pockets inside of its pockets inside of its pockets. You can store a ton of stuff in this bag, and I really, really like it.
Behold the Power of Dark Social
Now here’s the rest of the story. So this company Piquadro is not sold in the United States at all. You have to get it on eBay or something along those lines. So the way I found out about this brand was from my friend Rohit Bhargava, who is also in a Facebook group that I’m in for frequent travelers. A while back people were talking about their favorite luggage, and he posted the fact that he has a Piquadro bag that he really loves.
I was like, “Wow, I really like that bag. That’s exactly what I want. I need something like that.” So I looked it up and found it and sent it to my wife and got it for Christmas. I’d never heard of the Piquadro brand, and that’s how this whole discovery unfolded for me.
But when this bag was purchased by my wife, on a website, it looked as though it was a direct referral. When they do their analytics, it will show as a direct referral or maybe even a Google referral if she searched the Piquadro brand before coming to the website.
You know what it won’t show in their analytics? What it won’t show is any credit to social media or to Facebook, because the trail went cold, analytically. But 100% of the input and the impact of me buying this bag came from social media and from a Facebook group. All. Of. It.
Without social media, without Facebook, I never would have known about this brand. I never would have bought this bag.
The Big Flaw in Social Media Measurement
That’s the problem that social media has, and that’s the problem that social media will always have. It’s very, very difficult to fully account for the impact and the power of social media and its influence on our purchasing decisions. So just because you can’t necessarily see all of the impact of social media doesn’t mean that that impact doesn’t exist.
This concept of “dark social” is going to grow in importance too, as much of social becomes natively mobile, making tracking and attribution even more nettlesome.
Now what smart companies are starting to do is get at this question by doing surveys, by talking to their customers and saying, “Hey, have you talked about this brand in social media? Have you heard about this brand in social media?” And looking at that versus purchase data and using that as a correlation study to prove out social media’s true value.
Sprout Social Shoutout
Today’s Sprout Social Shoutout is for Rohit Bhargava, who is a fantastic thought leader, terrific author, and a great speaker. Follow him in social media. And as always, this show is brought to you by Sprout Social, a social media management and marketing platform that I use every day, even here in New York City.
About Jay Today
This video is from Jay Today is my near-daily 3-minute video where I talk about social media, content marketing, business and life. JayToday is available on Youtube, iTunes (as a video podcast, and now as an audio podcast too), and at JayToday.tv. The show is sponsored by Sprout Social (which I use for my social media), and Candidio (a great video editing service).