The Dark Art of Dark Social: Email, the antisocial medium which will not die

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Email newsletters go back to the dawn of the Internet but have been neglected in recent years with the rise of shiny social networks. But eTOCs have seen off RSS and email will not die. Why else does Twitter encourage users to share tweets via email? The evidence is clear that message dissemination via social networks only reaches a relatively small proportion of the potential audience and that most link sharing occurs via private channels such as email (hence “dark social”). The Silk Road bust and the unmasking of Dread Pirate Roberts reveals how difficult it is to maintain anonymity online. Public discussion of science by scientists, e.g. via online comments, is limited by the high risk nature of the putting your head above the parapet in the hierarchical merit structure of science. Yet discussion of published science via private channels continues unabated.
The rebirth email on mobile devices and the contribution of social media to information overload is causing a rethink about the utility of public versus private channels and we are seeing the rebirth of email newsletters and mailing lists. This workshop looks at the case for and against dark social, practical aspects such and tools such as how to use blogs as content management systems for email generation and asks you to embrace the dark side.

Coordinator: Alan Cann (University of Leicester)
Katy Alexander (NPG)
Nick Morris (Newcastle University) via video
Carl Zimmer (Science Writer) via video
Session hashtag: #solo13dark

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  • 1. The Dark Art of Dark Social: Email, the antisocial medium which will not die #solo13 / #solo13dark Alan Cann Department of Biology University of Leicester blog/DarkSocial
  • 2. Is it true?
  • 3. Tools Mailchimp FeedBurner ReadNotify Blog as CMS
  • 4. Contributors Carl Zimmer,, Friday’s Elk Katy Alexander, Senior Marketing Manager, Nature publishing group Nick Morris, University of Newcastle
  • 5. Topics • How to … • Ethics • Formats • Recommendations
  • 6. How to… • Blog as CMS • How to write an email newsletter • Track email engagement
  • 7. Ethics 1. Any task I ask email correspondents to perform in order to measure response rates has to be authentic, i.e. something that that might normally do. 1. Any task-based measurement has to offer the recipients a potential benefit for participating, for example, links to extra information or service that they want. 1. And?
  • 8. Formats • Linkfests. • Conversation – attempt to engage: Nancy Mendoza - PEST not PUS (deficit model) It's not about numbers it's about engagement - strong vs weak ties.
  • 9. Recommendations • Start with your objectives, not the technology – what do you want to achieve? • Always, always, always make email subscriptions opt in. • Linkfests: Keep it brief! Images can be good links. • Scheduling – stick to a schedule, don’t flood the inbox.