Why use dark posts on social media in 2019?
With more and more digital advertising solutions available, you might wonder if creating dark posts is worth your while in 2019.
Stop wondering—dark posts offer a number of advantages over traditional ads on social media.
Here are 5 reasons dark posts are still relevant in 2019:
1. They’re great at precise targeting
With traditional or “published” social media ads, you can reach your target audience in a general sense. For example, targeted posts on Facebook can reach users based on several variables, such as age, gender, or areas of interest.
Meanwhile, dark posts offer a whole new level of precision. You can target users based on the same variables as regular targeted ads, but you can also target them with specific keywords like their exact job title.
When it comes to targeting with dark posts vs. organic posts, the real difference comes down to who sees what.
With dark posts, not only can you focus different ads on different audiences, but you can also make custom ads for each targeted audience segment.
For example, imagine you’re a sneaker brand. With traditional targeting, you could focus on 45-year-old suburban moms from the greater Seattle area, or 20-year-old student-athletes from New York.
With dark posts, you could target both groups with customized ads at the same time. And even better, the moms and the students each only see the ad designed for them.
With this kind of exact targeting, you reach precisely whom you intend to reach. And that’s great for social media ROI.
Plus, organic reach on Facebook will be limited for brand pages going forward due to the latest News Feed algorithm change—so targeted ads are looking more important than ever.
2. They open up major options for A/B testing
If you want to really optimize your content, paid and organic, dark posts offer a wealth of testing options.
Because you can have your ad appear differently to different users, you can use dark posts to test which version of the ad gets the most engagement, clicks, or conversions.
If you’re not familiar with A/B testing, it’s a great way to improve your ads. Also known as split testing, it lets you present consumers with two different versions of your ad to see which performs better.
With dark posts / unpublished posts on Facebook, for example, you can experiment with the image, headline, call-to-action button, or body copy of your ad.
So, if you want to see which headline performs better, you’d target headline A and B at the same group. A randomly-selected half of the users would see headline A, and the other half would see headline B.
If one headline gets more engagement or conversions (depending on what your KPIs are), you’ve got a winner.
3. They help you perfect your other content
Not only does A/B testing help you optimize your future dark posts based on valuable feedback, it can also make your organic and boosted posts better.
By seeing which headlines, images, or body copy are performing well for your dark posts, you can improve the posts that actually show up on your timeline.
Say you want to publish a post and boost it. How would you select the perfect headline to maximize clicks to your website?
Well, you could first set up two dark posts that are identical except for the headline and A/B test them against each other.
Two headlines enter, one headline leaves. You can then use the headline with the higher click-through rate for the published version of the post. That way, you can know for sure that you’re using the best possible version of your ad.
4. They keep your content flow from looking spammy
Another great thing about dark posts is that they don’t hog the spotlight from your organic content.
Imagine you’re posting tons of boosted ads to your Facebook timeline, each targeted at a different demographic.
Well, they all show up on your page. Before you know it, you have 20 nearly-identical boosted posts clogging up your timeline and any organic posts you have are buried somewhere deep in there.
If you want your fans to see your best organic and boosted content, dark posts keep your timeline ad-free and avoid making your page look spammy.
Maintaining a consistent, likable social media voice is critical for any brand. Keeping a clean timeline without tons of ads helps you highlight your unique tone and brand presence—and creating dark posts is one of the easiest ways to do that.
5. They keep your followers’ feeds from looking spammy
A recent Forrester survey found that 26% of American youth felt there were too many ads in their Facebook feeds. Source:Forrester.
You present your brand in two main places on any social media channel – your page and your followers’ feeds. You don’t want your own page to look spammy, nor do you want your followers to only see you as a source of obnoxious ads.
Empathize with your followers for a moment. Would you rather see a dozen variations on the same boosted post clogging up your feed or a single targeted dark post that’s tailored to your interests?
By using dark posts, you avoid annoying your loyal fans. The only people who see your dark posts are the people you’ve carefully selected, and they’re getting ads tailored to their interests.
That means more space for you to build your brand presence and spread your message through organic content and boosted posts. It also means less spam and happier followers.
What are dark posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn?
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about what dark posts are and why you should use them, it’s important to understand the different forms they take on each of the major social media channels.
How to use dark posts on Facebook is different from how to use dark posts on Twitter, for instance, and that’s something all SMMs need to be aware of. So let’s dive in and look at each channel’s version of dark posts.
What are dark posts on Facebook?
Facebook used to simply call dark posts…well, dark posts. They invented them, after all.
In recent years, though, they’ve opted for the less scary-sounding “unpublished page posts”.
Because they’re dark posts, unpublished page posts do not show up on your brand’s page, and they don’t automatically show up in your followers’ News Feeds. They will only appear for people you’ve specifically targeted.
When it comes to publishing dark posts on Facebook, you basically have two options. You can use Facebook’s Power Editor.
To create dark posts within Power Editor, you first need to create a new ad post.
To make sure it’s a dark post / unpublished post, select the option at the bottom that says “only use this post for an ad”:
Facebook dark posts offer several ad formats. Just be sure to click “Only use this post for an ad” to make it a dark post. Source:Facebook.
You can choose exactly who to target with your dark post. For example, you can reach out to users who have purchased similar products to yours, who live in a specific city, or who have a certain job title. Alternatively, you can upload your existing customer contact info and create lookalike audiences based on information about people who already love your brand.