With the release of the Edelman 2018 Trust Barometer, it’s clear to see a trend of dark social being utilized by social media users. With people’s trust in social media dropping to only 41% globally, perhaps the increase in dark social should come as no surprise.
With 2018 being a bad year all round for social networks, with the rise of fake news stories, influencer bots, and more, are we seeing the decline in public social media, and more private, controlled use?
In this week’s episode of Marketing on Tap, we look at how dark social is on the rise, what this means for brand marketers in 2019, and how your business can adapt to this new marketing trend.
Settle back and enjoy this week’s topic, brought to you in the usual unscripted manner that you’ve come to expect when Sam and Danny take the mic.
If you prefer to listen on the go, the audio version of this week’s episode can be listened to below.
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Intro: Join marketers, authors, and craft beer enthusiasts Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown for a hoppy discussion on all things digital over a cheeky pint or two. Topics on the menu include influence marketing, social media, brand advocacy, and a taste testing of real world digital marketing campaigns. Some are smooth, others don’t sit so well. Don’t forget to stick around for last call, where the boys will serve you up one final marketing take away that you can go out and apply in the real world. It’s a great primer before the weekend.
Sam Fiorella: Everybody, welcome back to another … I saw that.
Danny Brown: No, you didn’t.
Sam Fiorella: Episode of marketing on tap. This is my mate, Danny Brown. My name is Sam Fiorella. Danny, today I’m actually really excited about this topic because it’s something that’s been going on quite a bit in conversations internally. But I was reading, as I typically do, on the train in the morning. This morning I found an article about Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer.
Danny Brown: Okay.
Sam Fiorella: They indicated that 60% of people that they surveyed as part of their trust barometer no longer trust social media companies, which I thought was really kind of interesting, because we’ve been talking about this a lot internally about the fake news that’s being reported. Fake influencers that we’re talking a lot about, and how that’s affecting the perception of the messages that we put out there on behalf of our brands.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: That’s something that, I think, I know we struggle with is how are we going to be credible in a world where Facebook is not trusted anymore because of everything that’s going on there. There’s just so much negativity and fake information out there, you know, with the bots and everything, that there’s a real challenge right now for businesses. I thought today we can sort of talk a little bit about how a brand can earn that authenticity and what they need to do to fight some of that. I think that’s kind of an interesting topic today. It’ll be very informative, anyway.
Sam Fiorella: But as always, the most … well, not the most important, well not the most important … Yeah, screw it.
Danny Brown: The equally important-
Sam Fiorella: The most important thing is the beer.
Danny Brown: Beer time.
Sam Fiorella: That we’re drinking. What are we drinking today?
Danny Brown: Yeah. So we’re revisiting our friends at Collingwood Brewery
Sam Fiorella: We like these guys.
Danny Brown: We’ve not had a bad beer from these guys yet. I’m thankful for that. This is one of their seasonal ones, it’s Whitney’s Vintage Ale, and it’s a fall beer. Fall, slightly winter. And it’s based on the original brewed tradition begun by Richard Whitney who’s the master brewer of the original Collingwood Brewery back in 1860.
Sam Fiorella: Oh, cool.
Danny Brown: So it’s got same Georgian Bay water, it’s got a lot of harvested gold honey, and a lot of wet hops in there after fermentation.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, Rob’s not going to like this one.
Danny Brown: Okay.
Sam Fiorella: I can tell-
Danny Brown: [crosstalk 00:02:45] ABV. IBUs, it’s a mixer. That’s a 35 IBU.
Sam Fiorella: Oh, so I can drive home after this, afterwards.
Danny Brown: Yeah. So, anywho we’ll see what it’s like.
Sam Fiorella: All right, guys, let’s try this. I’m going to get the Robert cam. Hang on. We need to see … Everybody needs to see Roberts reaction to this.
Danny Brown: Oh, it’s just a smell. There we go.
Sam Fiorella: I know, I can tell by the smell that already Robert, doesn’t matter the taste. All right guys, cheers.
Danny Brown: Cheers. Cheers everyone. Yep, that’s another good beer from Collingwood I think.
Sam Fiorella: It’s funny, because the taste is so opposite to what I’m smelling.
Danny Brown: Yeah, exactly.
Sam Fiorella: Unlike the last couple of ones I’ve ever tried.
Danny Brown: It kind of like your wet hops from [inaudible 00:03:31]. So, Big Head Hops and-
Sam Fiorella: Yeah.
Danny Brown: Got a lot of them, wet hop. So it just brings that flavor out. So it’s very different from our … From a normal hoppy beer for example.
Sam Fiorella: This actually reminds me of a West Coast IPA, almost. It’s got a similar kind of a taste. Anyway, I will enjoy this one and as is usually the case I’m also going to be enjoying Robert’s glass after this.
Sam Fiorella: Okay. So, let’s get back to this. I got the article up here, Danny. So it says, “Against a backdrop of fake news, and data manipulation users have grown distrustful of influencers. Both celebrity and media personalities. In a major reversal, trust has reverted back to immediate friends, family and close acquaintances on social media. Individuals whose personal credibility speaks more than the size of their following.”
Danny Brown: Right. That sounds like something people read about in a book five years-
Sam Fiorella: Five years ago. I know right.
Danny Brown: About the small circles of influence and how that actually-
Sam Fiorella: Well, that’s why I … Like, I mean, I was on the train this morning reading, I go, “Wait, what?” You know what I mean. Like we were talking about this when it comes to influence marketing five years ago that it’s not about your audience size, it’s about one-to-one dyadic relationships, which I think was chapter seven in the book.
Danny Brown: I think so.
Sam Fiorella: Dyadic relationships where … Those of you, any of my students, former students, that are listening to this you should know what I’m talking about. The power of dyads, right. My big keynote presentation on Influence Marketing right now is that the internet is too big for influence marketing.
Danny Brown: Yep.
Sam Fiorella: It’s just too big, there’s too many people, there’s too much fake programs out there. Too many fake influencers that the power of one-to-one relationships, so that authenticity that comes in one-to-one friendships and engagements, actually drives more influence over a purchase decision than that. So, this really opens up, I think, the door for what’s coming in 2019 and beyond. There’s a shift happening and they’re calling it “Real is back”.
Danny Brown: Okay.
Sam Fiorella: That it isn’t about what we’re … You know, they say even if you’re a garage business, or a business operating out of garage you can operate like IBM because no one is going to know that you’re working out of your garage. You can put any front on that you want. But because so many people have done that there’s so much distrust as Edelman’s Trust Barometer here shows that we now need to go the other way.
Sam Fiorella: So, what advice in general, we can get into some specifics, but in general what kind of advice can we give people? What can they do as a brand or as a marketer for a brand to establish that trust again in the face all of these online distrust?
Danny Brown: Yeah. I think they’ve got to be honest with themselves and their audience that they’re trying to attract. Then with the folks that they’re working with and say, “Okay, you know it’s for sales, et cetera. We’re trying to shift product. But, let’s give value to the customers we’re trying to attract first and then the sales hopefully will come.”
Danny Brown: So, if it’s about education, advice about the product and why it’s different, why a certain battery is different from whatever. It’s the content you’re putting out it has to be natural, and not salesy. Not just thrown to a guy with 100,000 followers to shove out to their audience in the hope that it’s going to sell some stuff.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah. You know what, to me, that just sounds like it’s important to be authentic. We’ve been saying that it’s important to be authentic since-
Danny Brown: And nobody’s listening.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, clearly nobody listened. Since the early 2000’s when we got involved in the internet and social media. Why is it today? They’re not … They’re aren’t going to listen to us, any old marketers like us. We’ve been talking been talking about authenticity forever. Its got to be more than that. People have to break something. You know what I mean? They really have to shake it up as a brand, I think, to gain that trust.
Sam Fiorella: I know Adidas did a campaign, was it last year? I believe it was. Where they said, I think their exact words were, “We need to shake things up from our boring traditional media buy and advertising.” Adidas is known as a brand that’s quality, but not very sexy.
Danny Brown: Right. When you compare it to Nike.
Sam Fiorella: To like a Nike, right. So, I know one of the things they did after the World Cup was, “There will be haters.” I think that was the hash tag. They created all these videos of basically soccer fans, football fans for proper football fans soccer for North Americans. Soccer players that everybody hated on, like Luis Suarez. They actually, I don’t care, say what you want. Hate me all you want. You know what I mean? But look at all of my trophy’s, look at all my accolades. I’m still the best player in the world, or whatever the campaign was. But, basically they were trying to say, oh, shock you, make you pay attention to cut through the clutter.
Sam Fiorella: So I think brands have to actually go one step further. They just can’t be authentic anymore. But they can’t get offline either. There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. So, I’m looking at they have to do something that’s going to shake up the marketplace. So, that might actually be doing an ask me anything with the President.
Danny Brown: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: You know what I mean? I think the Domino’s example that we gave a little while ago when Domino’s was dying and they found rats in their tomato sauce and all that kind of crazy stuff.
Danny Brown: [inaudible 00:08:57].
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, exactly. You know, one of the things he did is he went out there, he apologized to himself.
Danny Brown: To himself?
Sam Fiorella: To himself. [crosstalk 00:09:07].
Danny Brown: Sam’s had enough.
Sam Fiorella: No, give me yours. Clearly I haven’t had enough, I think that’s the problem.
Sam Fiorella: Well, he apologized to everybody. It was a heartfelt apology and he answered questions. That’s part of it.
Danny Brown: It comes back to being authentic. You’re saying you have to go beyond authentic. He was authentic. Yeah, that was about eight years ago, so.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, that was authentic back then. No, but I mean that was different for back then because no other brand, frankly, had the cajones to have their CEO stand up there and answer questions, right. Take a look at what’s happening with Zuckerberg. I mean, he’s the exact opposite. He gets in front of Congress and he’s like a robot. You know what I mean? There is no authen … He just made the case worse for himself.
Sam Fiorella: So, I don’t even know what it is today but something has to happen.
Danny Brown: I wonder, then … I know we’ve spoken before about brands shooting off message too much. Unless you’re like a Wendy’s and they roast everybody on Twitter. They enjoy that.
Sam Fiorella: I love their Twitter account.
Danny Brown: That’s amazing. Yeah, Wendy’s and there another one. I can’t quite remind off hand. But, I’m wondering, now, if part of that is actually brands really just saying, “This is why we’re different because that brand sucks.”
Sam Fiorella: Yeah.
Danny Brown: Maybe just be honest about why that brand sucks versus this one. I’m not sure. I don’t know if that’s going to far off there.
Sam Fiorella: I’m wondering if it isn’t going … To go to the earlier point, maybe. Definitely you got to think creatively, you’ve got to really shock the system. But maybe if you’re not going to go that route, because that takes a lot of courage and it takes … It’s a lot of risk as well, because that could also backfire on you real easily. I know one of the trends right now is to go into the dark web. Not the dark web, dark social.
Danny Brown: Dark social.
Sam Fiorella: Excuse me, dark social. So for those of you that don’t know, dark social is basically when a brand engages consumers, or prospects, in less public digital forums like Messenger, or Kick.
Danny Brown: Even Snapchat.
Sam Fiorella: Or even Snapchat where you’re actually talking directly. These are not … So, in that case it’s like ask, from an influencer marketing perspective, send this recommendation to 50 of your friends or followers on Facebook Messenger. Well, the world doesn’t see that.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: It’s not posted publicly so the number of followers you have is irrelevant. The problem, just to sort of finish off that little section, the problem with dark social is that it’s difficult to track.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: So one of the reasons why a lot of marketers don’t do that, because so many marketers hold themselves accountable to how many views, and how many shares, and how many likes. Vanity metrics that you can’t do that in the dark social type applications. So, it becomes a challenge. But I know, for example … Who is it that does this?
Sam Fiorella: Sephora. Sephora does a fantastic job. They’ve got a Kick program on-
Danny Brown: That’s a fashion brand, right?
Sam Fiorella: It’s a fashion brand, Sephora, yeah. It’s a … I’ve got a 16 year old daughter. I know everything there is to know about Sephora. She has an account there, they know her by her first name basis. But know one of the things, and this is how I learned about that. What Sephora does is if you have any kind of makeup request, or tip, you can actually message Sephora on Kick and you’ll get tutorials.
Danny Brown: All right.
Sam Fiorella: Like, it’s an [crosstalk 00:12:14]. Yeah, it’s not and actual human being, it’s a bot. But they’re communicating with you contextually. They can recognize what it is that you’re asking, they’ll answer a question and then give you tutorials so you can watch it. So that’s a great two-way conversation getting back to the issue of one-to-one.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: You’re building those personal relationships with an individual customer. A big-
Danny Brown: Kind of a brand ambassadors.
Sam Fiorella: Right, and you’re developing brand ambassadors in the meantime, right. Another example, going back to Adidas. I read this one not that long ago. What Adidas has been doing for three years, very quietly when it comes to the dark social game, is they have been building communities of these soccer players that aren’t yet professional, that still haven’t made it in to the Premier League. Younger kids, basically. Getting them to show off their skills.
Sam Fiorella: So, record a video of yourself dribbling, or taking that penalty kick, or taking a spot kick and then post it into the community. The problem, of course, that they had is they were trying to get major cities and they had 100s of kids that they were basically communicating with through messenger. These inhouse communities, gated communities, it wasn’t available to the public.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: They weren’t trying to promote Adidas to the world. They were trying to promote Adidas to this one level down soccer player, a kid-
Danny Brown: Which is smart. That’s the next generation of super star.
Sam Fiorella: That’s the next generation of super star. But you know, of course, one of the problems they could handle the volume. So they went from having 100s of people in each one of these cities to about 35-36-37 in each one of them.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: It was a little bit easier to now engage them. They’ve actually shifted, originally it was about engaging them to sell products and to many help them identify who the next super star so they know who to sponsor.
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: So they can find out early on by building that relationship with them, so when Nike goes to them with a sponsorship or Puma these guys already have a relationship with them and they’re more likely to take Adidas.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: Now, what they’re doing is, this has become very influencer marketing campaign. Now what they’re saying is they’ve got a mobile app. So now it’s a little bit more automated and it’s about connecting with each other. They allow these … We don’t care if these guys never become super starts, because they’re influencers. They’re still soccer fans, they grew up in this soccer world. So it’s a brilliant way to do it.
Sam Fiorella: So, this might be one example for everybody. How to use dark social to build your authenticity. But, how about a different type of a brand? Those are two different ones. I really want to get the idea … Well, let me shift gears. I want to ask you, one of the things we get challenged with all the time is measuring our success.
Danny Brown: Right, yeah.
Sam Fiorella: If dark social is not as trackable because you can’t publicly see the shares, the likes, the comments that people make in these private networks like a messenger, a Facebook messenger. How do you sell this concept to a brand that’s looking for that measurement?
Danny Brown: Well, I think if you think of your own business. Let’s say you’re a business that makes products, the research departments, the tests and everything before it goes to market and public and production and all that kind of stuff. So, for me dark social is a research department. There finding out what works, what doesn’t work. Who’s good, who’s not good. Who can plant out our message, who can’t plant our message.
Danny Brown: Once you’ve got these guys you mentioned and their influencers that are in the public you can still track the public posts. So the guys that you’ve gotten in the program of dark social you’re now sending out and in the world with various tracking cords, landing pages, et cetera. Standard marketing stuff.
Danny Brown: You can track the success over … Let’s say you have two groups from dark social, one headed up by marketer A, one headed up by marketer B with message A, message B. Now you can start to test which ones work based on the messaging, the trainer that they got, the education they got and how they took that message out to the public. There’s apps that you can publicly the opt in these dark social areas.
Sam Fiorella: That’s interesting. Because I think that … You know, I’m listening to you say that and one of the things you just said was this-
Danny Brown: Dan, you need to speak in English again, like last week.
Sam Fiorella: I mean, I think we’ve given up asking you to speak English. But, you said, what I understood anyway of what you said, was this is just standard stuff. What amazes me that it it’s just standard stuff. The idea of putting in a tracking code, something as simple as a tracking code into a messengers … Or, an influencers request. You know what I mean? Having all of your different influencers using a different short code, or for a mobile app or a different pearl for a viral campaign on the web just goes beyond most people.
Sam Fiorella: A lot of the clients that we talk to, their agencies just never did this for them. It’s just so simple. But I agree with you, if you’re going to build these in house communities like we do for some of our clients, some of the communities, gated communities that we’ve built. I know one of the things that we do, for those of you listening, is say, “Okay, guys. We want to give you this message. We want you to share this message. But there’s going to be some type of a call to action.” It doesn’t have to be a call to action to go buy something. But something that we can then … Some call to action that their followers can pick up on and then run with. Whether it’s implicit, or just subtle. Then we can track what action happens beyond that. So we can see are these conversations going out beyond our gated community, which is where that trust is.
Sam Fiorella: But, I want to come back to this. I’m getting the signal that our time is up for this webinar. Sorry, where’s our bell? Here’s our bell. Last call.
Robert: Thanks Steven.
Sam Fiorella: Thank you for the bell Steven.
Sam Fiorella: Well, you know what, no. I’m going to pass it to you first. So, what’s the one, again in English if possible. What is the one-
Danny Brown: Says the Italian.
Sam Fiorella: You know, no I’m not even going to try talking in Italian after here.
Sam Fiorella: What is the one take away from this conversation that people should write down, think about tomorrow when they get to the office?
Danny Brown: I think it’s like you said earlier, and it’s a horrible phrase. I hate it with all my breath, as you like. But thinking outside the box. What can you actually do definitely. We know that you have to be authentic, you have to be personable and sociable and all that crap. That’s not going to change. But just think of different ways from what you’re doing now to actually connect and get a message out. It may be that you have a dark social area, to really … Idea and just date plans and ideas without having to get crapped on in public because-
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, and I think we got to redefine authentic.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: Authentic is not just being responsive, it’s not just lifting up the hood and letting people see how things operate in house. You know, showing a video of your plant or how a product is made. McDonald’s does the, “Where is this food from, ask us anything.” McDonald’s in Canada anyway.
Sam Fiorella: So, those are some good examples but you have to go so much further. I do believe that you have to allow people inside. I know we do something with one of our clients where we invite people to come into our clients corporate head office. We take them on a tour of the plant, they can ask anything they want. We take them into super secret areas. They can ask whatever they want, they can get demos of whatever they want. Then they’re free to share once they leave whatever they want. That one-to-one engagement I think is a thing.
Sam Fiorella: For my last call from me, I want to go back to the concept of dyadic relationships. I think that’s the one thing that people should take away from here is stop immediately jumping to, “Okay, what are we going to build on the web? What are we going to do that’s going to be seen by 50,000, or 100,000, or 500,000 or millions of people on Facebook?”
Danny Brown: Right.
Sam Fiorella: Right, I think it has to be let’s look inward. Let’s create a community where we don’t care that you have 50,000 people and you’re going to share it to 50,000 people. What we want is 500 of your followers that are actually potential customers of ours. Or that are actual potential users of our product that we can then engage to learn from.
Danny Brown: Nurture them.
Sam Fiorella: Nurture along the path. Then maybe they become influencers. But if nothing else this are people who might actually buy. Focus your money on people who might actually buy, not just on that vast audience of maybe. I think maybe that will help combat some of this mistrust? That’s not-
Danny Brown: Distrust.
Sam Fiorella: Distrust.
Danny Brown: I think it’s distrust.
Sam Fiorella: Mistrust?
Danny Brown: Non-trust. Not enough trust.
Sam Fiorella: Now who’s not speaking English? You know, this lack of trust. There we go. This lack of trust that fake news has really put that, and of course all of the stupidity that’s going on.
Danny Brown: Oh, with the boats and everything that’s going on.
Sam Fiorella: At Facebook and at Cambridge Analytica. It really is that big distrust. So to fight that, stop. Don’t even go there. Go somewhere completely different, create those communities. Anyway, that’s my thought for the day.
Sam Fiorella: Thank you, everybody, for listening. For those of you listening and for those of you watching, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Danny Brown: If you’re watching on video make sure you hit the little notification button, subscribe, comment, like. All the kind of things that happen on YouTube. You can find us on about all of the 12 platforms on podcasting from Spotify to Apple Podcasts, and Google-
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, and if you’ve got any questions put them down in the comments. We’re happy to engage with you. That’s it. Guys, cheers, from Robert on the other side, Danny and me guys.
Danny Brown: Salut.
Robert: Cheers guys.
Outro: You’ve been listening to Marketing on Tap with Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one. Please, feel free to leave a show review. That’s always worth a cheers.