Nov 6th, 2023

Don’t be afraid of the dark: dark social insights from Chili Piper [VIDEO]

Dark social—aka the dark funnel—is top of mind for lots of companies.

Every organization wants to know what its customers (and potential customers) are saying and doing. But dark social is slippery—it can take many forms, and you can’t tap into it without the right tools and tactics.

We talked about that and much more with Arthur Castillo, Head of Dark Social & Evangelism at Chili Piper, in our recent event: Driving revenue from dark social.

Here are three of the top takeaways from that conversation, including:

  • What dark social really is
  • How dark social can inform go-to-market strategy
  • Why dark-social measurement is crucial

1. Think of dark social as word of mouth at scale

Word of mouth is nothing new.

What’s changed is how it spreads—the speed, the frequency, and the sheer breadth of distribution channels.

That’s dark social in a nutshell: a massive web of word of mouth that you can’t track using traditional technologies.

And it’s fueled by customers’ preference for self-service.

“Fewer people want to have sales involved in their buying decisions,” Arthur said. “So they're trying to do more of it themselves and they're also relying on peers to really start that buying journey.”
What it means for go-to-market teams: Sales teams used to be product gatekeepers. But today’s buyers turn to friends and peers to discover new solutions and use self-service to test them out. You need to get visibility into this activity to understand your customers, spot opportunities, and follow up accordingly.

What we call “dark social” used to happen at in-person events where industry peers would swap stories. It still does, but now it also happens daily across a vast landscape of digital channels.

And peer-to-peer validation is much more powerful than traditional marketing campaigns and sales pitches.

“I’ve seen it happen in front of me, and lo and behold, the deal that was stuck in the pipeline now all of a sudden is closing two weeks later,” Arthur said.

2. Dark social insights should inform go-to-market strategy

Dark-social activity can help sales teams find and follow up on opportunities fast.

It can also help marketing teams massage their messaging.

One idea is to create data-driven content based on what people are talking about in the dark funnel to spur further conversations and contributions.

“People love having discussions around data, whether it's, ‘Hey, that validates my experience’ or ‘Oh, I didn't even think about it that way’ or ‘Huh, that's interesting, this is my top challenge, but I guess a lot of my peers are struggling with this,’” Arthur said.
What it means for go-to-market teams: If people are having organic conversations around certain topics, odds are other prospects will be interested. Surface these conversations to create content based on them, influence them, and get more prospects interested in you and your solution.

Every company wants to find the voice of the customer and create content that resonates. Dark social is a goldmine for this.

“I think that's a great place to start in terms of extending some of these dark social moments that you're getting in smaller, more intimate events, and then just using that same strategy to amplify it on LinkedIn and get people curious and trying to join that discussion,” Arthur said.

3. You can’t measure what you can’t see

Quantifying the value of dark social isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to attribution.

Dark-social activity is, well, dark. You have to light it up to really understand return on investment.

There are workarounds you can use for attribution, such as self-reporting on form fills.

“We would have trackable touchpoints typically through a lead list, and those untrackable ones are more like self-reported attribution,” Arthur said.

But these stopgaps are limited in terms of history, accuracy, and scalability.

What it means for go-to-market teams: Getting visibility into dark-social activity is one thing, but to connect the dots between the dark funnel and your bottom-line business metrics, you have to tie activity to specific people and organizations. This is what allows you to connect dark-social activity to real deals.

There are tools that will help you resolve customer identities and enrich your data to create unified profiles for the people and organizations in the dark funnel.

“There's a lot of new companies out there that are starting to do some cool things with attribution 2.0,” Arthur said. “Common Room helps you with identifying some of those things.”

Visibility into the dark funnel isn’t just a win in terms of uncovering hidden activity and better understanding your customers.

It’s also a win for tying top-of-funnel activity to real revenue.

Dig into dark social with Common Room

Ready to see how Common Room helps you reveal the activity happening in your dark funnel?