Dark Social & What It Means For Brands

Gone are the days of uploading countless photo albums and sharing status updates on Facebook. While many Millennials still have a Facebook account, they’re choosing alternative ways to interact with their peers online, away from the eyes of family and coworkers.

This has lead to the increased use of ‘dark social’ and closed networks such as private Facebook groups, direct Snapchats, Snapchat groups, Instagram messaging and of course, Whatsapp. So what does this mean for brands and how can they still win the attention of Millennials?


Millennials still tend to search and scroll for content on social media, even if they aren’t posting publicly or contributing to the conversation online. By effectively targeting ads and customising them by location, age and other demographics brands can still land themselves on the feeds and in front on the eyes of their desired audience. Additionally, inserting a ‘message’ call-to-action button on the ad can involve the brand in a ‘dark social’ conversation with its customers.


The pressure of not getting enough ‘likes’ on a post can affect how much Millennials share their own original content. However sharing content created by another source or brand is less unnerving. If content is ‘screenshot-able’ it lends itself to being shared among private groups and messenger chats. Alternatively, allowing the audience to be a co-creator of the content can gain a brand big wins. This means creating brand lens and filters for their audiences to snap and share among friends.


Brands should invest in creating engaging offline experiences that people will talk about and share within their own private networks. This can be anything from picture booths, virtual reality and other immersive experiences. Ideally, brands should include elements that make the millennial user appear cool and attractive… because who wants to share unflattering pictures of them self either on public or private networks!


When we consume content on a media website, we’re brought to bottom of the page and given the option to ‘Share Article’, however most of these options only allow sharing to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. By adding a WhatsApp or other private group sharing functions brands will allow their content to reach a further organic Millennial audience within the dark social realm. 


Millennials might not want to follow brands like Puma on social media, but they will follow Rihanna wearing her Pumas. Partnering with the right influencers can get brands in front of their ideal audience, think Mommy bloggers for baby brands or Foodie Chefs for supermarkets. But be honest! Make the audience aware that it’s a partnership, Millennials are more favourable to brands that are transparent and authentic.