Gone are the days when you could log into Facebook and check out what your kids are really doing. Why? Because they've stopped posting their private lives on Facebook.
But have they stopped sharing personal information, photos and things they've liked? No they haven't just stopped sharing with you. They've migrated.
Let's take my Elizabeth. She's 21. Her favourite social media is Snapchat. But Snapchat isn't a social network like Facebook per say. It's a messaging app. Her current count is 58,430. This is the number of snapchats she's received/sent.
"Do you use Facebook" I asked her.
"Just to look at things. I don't post" was her reply.
My 24 year old son Daniel (an airline pilot) is continually on Facebook Messenger talking with his friends when I'm out and about with him - darn annoying. But that is his social mediam. He hasn't posted anything for years. However he's very active with his friends. Unfortunately I haven't been added to the Snapchat groups of my six.
What about us? The more mature? When you see interesting articles online and want to share them, how do you do it? Most often I'll copy the link and send it in an email to someone.
All these activities are called Dark Social. It is the sharing over private messaging apps- like Snapchat; Facebook Messenger; What'sAp; Viber; SMS; WeChat; Email.
The proliferation of smartphones and the free messaging apps means that now globally, 82 percent of content shared on mobile is shared through messaging, email or text, according to a report by RadiumOne.
By the way this is the bane of Facebook now - it's becoming more of a news site because of the loss of personal activity as members are posting less in public.
Two reasons dark social important for you
First, are you paying for online marketing? Do you run an email newsletter? Sponsor content? Here is where Dark Social comes in.
With private sharing there's a significant amount of link-sharing that doesn't get picked up properly in your analytics because there is no referring link (naturally).
So you can't accurately track the success of your paid efforts.
Second, with messaging apps dominance, especially Facebook Messenger, you'll see the increased usage of bots and chat bots for many normal web based services.
Customer service questions answered automatically and immediately. The ability to order and pay.
With the Airline KLM you can now get your booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding pass, and flight status updates via Facebook Messenger. Last month I wrote about Xero's chatbot in Messanger that enables you to find advisers in your area.