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Dark Social and UTM Tags

05 December 2018


What is dark social?


Dark social generates traffic to your website that you can’t track because users share links to your content privately. Dark social comes from users sharing links through:

  1. Email
  2. Direct messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram Direct Message, iMessage, and Whatsapp
  3. Native mobile apps like Facebook and Instagram
  4. Secure browsing links (when clicking from URLs beginning with ‘https’ to one that begins with ‘http’)

Dark social isn’t inherently bad; it just makes it more difficult for marketing teams to understand where their users are coming from, and thus which forms of advertisement are more effective than others. Because dark social accounts for 84% of website traffic worldwide, it’s important to find alternative ways to track your users.


How can I get around dark social?


While the above methods cannot determine through which channels each of your users accessed your content, it will cut down on the uncertainty thereof, and you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about your marketing strategies.

1. Include a copy-and-paste button

At the bottom of your content, include a copy-and-paste button that copies the page link for the user. The link that the user copies will include a UTM tag, which will make the users who click on that link easier to track.

2. Highlight the sharing icons on your pages

Sometimes, users can’t tell if a social media icon is for following a business or sharing content. Clearly label your icons with a “Follow Us” or “Share” header to encourage users to share to those platforms, and you’ll be able to track activity that comes from these shares.

3. Use dark social tracking apps

Apps like, Get Social, Get, Share This, and AddThis track the origins of users despite dark social.

4. Add UTM tags to your web page URLs

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tags are snippets of code that tell tracking software, like that of Google Analytics, from which platform the user accessed your content. So, by adding a UTM tag to the end of your URL, you will be able to tell if your content was accessed through Twitter, Facebook, etc.


If you need help setting up UTM tags and tracking your dark social, get in touch with us at Umi — we would be more than happy to help!

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