The web isn’t as open as we might think.

Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, coined what might prove to be a very much discussed term amongst social media naturals for some time to come:

Behold the dark social of online sharing.

We’re all very much impressed with the sharing numbers we see from various social networks, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn included. But how much is socially shared beyond measure, beyond what we can see? How much is shared via email, instant messages and direct messages? How much is shared on darknets, BBS networks and untraceable forums? According to Alexis Madrigal, quite a lot.

Most of the sharing takes place where it can’t be traced.

Here’s a tl;dr summary from the Atlantic article:

1. The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the ‘social’ iceberg. We are impressed by its scale because it’s easy to measure.

2. But most sharing is done via dark social means like email and IM that are difficult to measure.

3. According to new data on many media sites, 69% of social referrals came from dark social. 20% came from Facebook.

4. Facebook and Twitter do shift the paradigm from private sharing to open publishing. They structure, archive, and monetize your publications.

When you calculate reach, are you taking dark social into account? Please share in the comments.

Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash.