This is the year the Facebook newsfeed share ~officially~ cedes [some of] its traffic-driving prowess to the messenger-as-platform share, including to its own WhatsApp.
It will not be seamless. It won’t become the singular or even primary focus of an organization’s social strategy, but rather part of a larger, cautious, and occasionally fumbled venture into uncharted, dark corners of the Internet. It will require a willingness of media outlets to experiment, blindly, with content and formats specifically for messenger apps without the clarity of referral data.
It is a luxury to be able to experiment with dark social, but consider the looming potential in apps like KakaoTalk, South Korea’s free mobile messenger used to share GIFs, content, and emoticons among 90 percent of its smartphone users. People aren’t chatting one-to-one on these messengers, and we’ve seen raw numbers indicate they aren’t sharing content one-to-one either. Media sites without a WhatsApp or SMS share button on mobile today won’t stay that way for long.
Caira Conner is new market editor at BuzzFeed.