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Organisation-led engagement with consumers in hidden social spaces
Technological advances, the internet and social media provide consumers with instant means of communication where participants engage in the exchange of information about innumerable topics. Although most of these communications occur in the public domain within online groups and communities, some forms of communication are private and obscured from public view. Academics and practitioners refer to this supply of hidden social sharing and conversations that are invisible to most analytics programs as ‘dark social’. This conceptual paper explores these communications, with respect to instant messaging, and considers how organisations can lead conversations to engage consumers in hidden social spaces. This is particularly apt when hidden social conversations concern brands, products and services as the subject of the communication. When appropriate to engage with consumers in hidden social, organisations must be clear on their role in the process and approach their hidden social connections with mindfulness and consistency.
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Ria Wiid is a senior lecturer at the University of Worcester Business School, where she teaches a variety of subjects in the field of digital marketing and integrated marketing communications. She is an active researcher and member of the Managing Operations Risk and Sustainability and Customer Interaction research groups. She has extensive experience in strategic marketing, strategy planning, customer value management, customer engagement, direct marketing and change management, as well as several business start-ups, including a social enterprise.
Paul Hurley is Managing Director of the content creation company, Handface Productions. His previous roles include Head of Programming for BSkyB and Executive at Yahoo! Entertainment. His book, ‘Viral: The Social Video Handbook’ was published in 2016.
Paulo Mora-Avila is a senior lecturer at the University of Worcester Business School. His teaching and research areas of interest include consumer behaviour, brands, social media, digital marketing, corporate reputation, and cross-cultural and cross-generational marketing. Having worked in both industry and academia, he has extensive international experience in the fields of marketing, advertising and public relations,. He holds an MBA from Royal Holloway University of London and a PhD in marketing, social media and consumer behaviour from the University of Birmingham.
Jon Salmon is a director at Frictionless Social. He has more than 15 years’ industry experience across digital and broadcast platforms. Formerly Head of Internet Television at TalkTalk, his career spans from producing to consulting on video, connected television and broadcast projects for the British Film Institute, TwoFour, Universal Music, GlaxoSmithKline and AOL.