Interesting piece at The Atlantic on web analytics that attempt to account for sharing of links in what the author dubs “dark social”, the various technologies like e-mail, IM, etc. that we still use to share links to each other. Analytics suggest that it dominates even Facebook as a traffic driver.
The article uses Chartbeat metrics, which attribute direct deep page visits to social. Now, there are things unaccounted for that decrease the numbers somewhat. Browsers with referrers off will look like direct social, though that can be mitigated with cookies. Links from SSL search, Twitter, etc. will also look direct by default; I don’t know if they have some way to compensate for that.
But it’s still interesting.