Brands neglect the dark web, but with proper guides, the dark web provides opportunities. The hidden version of the web you know and use, requiring its own browser and VPN for access. This has negative consequences due to the privacy and anonymity associated. The dark web comprises about 5 to 6 % of the total internet. While not criminal to use, illegal activities do happen regularly such as hiring hackers,stolen identities and credentials. That’s one side of the dark web. But there’s another side—and one that concerns brands. Most marketers rarely consider the dark web as part of brand perspective, but mentions, interactions and legitimate activities take place, offering business opportunities. Without monitoring or engagement, these remain unnoticed and not responded to.
The Hidden Wikipedia?
Are you aware about “The Hidden Wiki site,” the ‘underground’ version of Wikipedia? You access it by knowing the actual page URL (typically includes .onion) or have access to a directory of sites. Topics regularly discussed are absent from the regular web like whistle blowing or anti-government censorship in some countries. Though unlikely, some conversations could include your brand. A simple Google search is inadequate to research the dark web hubs impacting your business. Only dedicated tools like Social Links or TorBot will locate the dark web. Keep your brand and employees safe if the dark web is part of your marketing efforts.
Internal guidelines and Prevention
Create your organizational guidelines for whom, when, how and why to access the dark web. If the marketing team needs to interact with a community there, ensure their understanding extreme emphasis on privacy issues shared by dark web users. Violating user norms like asking for personal information, ensures your brand loses credibility or causes ceasing of communications. Malware, hackers and other wicked acts do take place on the dark web; do engage an active cyber-security team to prevent all negative encounters.
When engaging a company to prevent and/or monitor dark-web issues, ensure they operate in a safe/ secure environment with search queries /investigation records remaining secure within the organization. Integrate your current systems or create cost-effective solutions to ensure the team identifies investments actually needed. Utilize non-dark web forums and learn more by participating within established brand guidelines on websites such as Quora or Reddit to comprehend the dark web and identify safe engagements. Search for sub-reddits or questions within the site to analyse online views as a litmus test for your organizational efforts.
The dark web cometh?
A brand’s usual sales and marketing strategies will be irrelevant on dark web as most users are there to avoid brands. During your next team-strategy meeting, visualize your marketing/ advertising strategy if it went dark. Think instead about privacy issues, aliases, indirect marketing, nuances of online communities and sites. Remember online privacy is never guaranteed. Brands are composed of people, who power both the clearnet and the dark web. Participating in the dark web is not illegal, but be smart about your search, your interaction and the time spent there. As internet trends grow and change, there might be a time when more people make use of the dark web and that will effect your ability to reach, sell and communicate with the target audience.