Private Messaging Beats Social Media, Word-of-Mouth as Preferred Info Sharing Method

GlobalWebIndex and WeAreSocial research data indicate that three in five internet users in the UK and the US use private messaging applications as their main method of sharing information to peers and family, beating public social media platforms and word of mouth.

The most popular of the private messaging platforms is Facebook Messenger, with 82% of consumers using the Facebook extension compared to other messaging applications. Behind that is the standalone messaging app WhatsApp and the integrated messaging system of Instagram.


The study reports that multiple consumers prefer private messaging over posting on social media because it provides a more private avenue to share their interests. Being able to directly contact your close friends and family members and sharing content directly to them provides a better alternative away from the prying eyes of social media.

Multiple consumers believe that they could be themselves and share more intimate interests with other people through private messaging. It gives them the convenience of being able to truly express how they feel about a certain product or tv show without having to worry about other people judging them for their opinions. It also allows them to find people with common interests and create a group chat dedicated to their interests, instead of having to go through comments of other individuals who may also fear social ridicule. Private messaging apps give them multiple options as to how they want to share an interest and to whom they share their opinions.

Branded “dark social” by marketers, private messaging applications dominated the preferences of consumers when it comes to communication and info sharing. The main reason behind this is the privacy that it gives its users, leaving other people “in the dark” as to the true interests and opinions of other users


Entertainment was reported to be the top topic that users share on their private messaging applications, with 51 percent of most conversations revolving around the category. Following this is games with 48 percent, clothing with 47 percent, electronics with 46 percent, food and drink items with 42 percent, and travel and leisure with 41 percent.


WeAreSocial research and insight director, André van Loon, responded saying “The shift in consumer behavior underlines how much marketing now comes through social media, and specifically dark social.”

This statement highlights how, in previous instances, public discussion on social media was deemed more preferred by the public. However, it also shows a trend of change within consumer preferences with regards to how they are portrayed on public social media. With this information, corporations gain an insight into the relationship between their type of advertising and how consumers spread information to their peers and colleagues.

According to GlobalWebIndex Trends Manager Chase Buckle, “Social media engagement is shifting, and this presents as much of an opportunity as a challenge to brands. As public social media platforms increasingly fulfill the role of content consumption sources, private messaging platforms are now where meaningful conversations and recommendations are taking place between peers actively engaging with each other.”

Given the turn in how consumers interact with advertising, this challenge brings unique opportunities to multiple corporations. Not only do they have to entice consumers to show an active interest in their product, but they also need to be able to impact consumers in a way that drives them to discuss with other individuals privately.

In order to stay afloat in challenging times, it is imperative for corporations to innovate their strategies. Now, not only do they have to understand what catches the eyes of consumers, but they also need to understand what leads consumers to talk about their products. Truly, the game for product consumption is ever-changing.

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