Dark social: What are you NOT seeing?

Hey you! Yes YOU!!!

You have to check out this video! This is the oldest YouTuber on YouTube.

She’s 106 years old and she has a cooking channel:


Before you click over (and I really do suggest that you do, she’s amazing) read on.

 It’s quick I promise.

Let’s say you clicked that link just now? YouTube will be able to track that you were sent over there from this site. Which site? The one you’re on right now. Look in your browser at the web address.

Before I shared that link with you, I shared it with my wife on Facebook Messenger. If SHE clicks on it, all YouTube will show the channel owner is that she came as part of “Direct” traffic.

There is no way to tell that she came from Facebook Messenger.

If I shared that link in Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Whatsapp, the same thing happens. The referred traffic all shows up as Direct.

For marketers and business owners who are marketing their own companies (like most accountants) this is a potential nightmare.

This is called “Dark Social.”

It’s traffic on the web that you can’t track! Or can you?

Guess how much traffic is currently referred around the web through Dark Social?

Think about your own experience. What was the last link you shared with someone, and how or where did you share it?

Recent studies that I’ve read show that approximately 80 percent of referred traffic today is coming from Dark Social. Imagine that as a marketer you have no data on 80 percent of your incoming traffic?

In this article from my good friend Jay Baer, “What is Dark Social and How Is It Affecting Your Brand?,” there is a suggested formula for how you can start getting a sense of how much of your traffic is coming from dark social.

Fire up Google Analytics, look at your total Direct Traffic, then subtract your home page visits from that number. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a start.

Another thing you can do is use link shorteners like Bitly or Owly. These allow for tracking which gives you a better sense of where the traffic is coming from.

Finally, there’s an app or two for that, but fair warning, these are not inexpensive. So the question you have to ask yourself is, “how valuable is this data?”

Get Social and RythmOne ( are two apps that can help you get a clearer picture of how much dark social traffic you’re getting, and where it is coming from.

Is this important?

If you are getting 100 really good and qualified referrals a month, then this may not matter to you. On the other hand, if you are trying to navigate the waters of social media and figure out how to use today’s technology to grow your business by expanding your reach and increasing your influence in the marketplace? Then, yes, you’re probably going to want to pay attention to this.

Get the latest to your inbox

Get the latest product updates and certification news to help you grow your practice.

By clicking “Submit,” you agree to permit Intuit to contact you regarding QuickBooks and have read and acknowledge our Privacy Statement.

Thanks for subscribing.

Relevant resources to help start, run, and grow your business.

Looking for something else?

Get QuickBooks

Smart features made for your business. We've got you covered.

Tax Pro Center

Expert advice and resources for today’s accounting professionals.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.

How can we help?
Talk to sales 1-800-497-1712

Monday - Friday, 5 AM to 6 PM PT

Get product support