We have previously talked about the interesting effect of "dark social," or the social media activity that exists (i.e., eyeballs on your posts) that can't be measured by social signals or other metrics.
It's an interesting effect, and led to discussion about Facebook's dark posts...which are a completely different phenomenon! Don't confuse dark social with dark posts on Facebook: Dark posts are a method of advertising that can help you manage Facebook more effectively, and they can have a measurable impact. Here's what they are and how to use them appropriately.
Definition Time: A Facebook 'Dark Post'
A dark post is a Facebook post that you write, but which never gets posted on your brand's feed – at least not in the traditional sense. In this case, you create an ad-like post that would look great on Facebook – preferably with a great photo or video advertising your latest product/service.
However, instead of scheduling it to publish directly to the feed, you turn it into a more traditional sponsored ad: Facebook allows you to create detailed ad posts including links, CTA buttons, and more. The key is selecting the option that says "Only use this post for an ad" and presto – it won't show up on your general feed. That's what makes it dark!
So, Why Does It Matter?
A Facebook dark post may seem like a simple and inconsequential thing, but they can be surprisingly useful for more complex Facebook marketing strategies. Here's why it's an important trick to have:
- No more crowded feeds: Pretend you are the average customer looking at your brand's Facebook posts. You have liked the brand, and enjoy seeing updates crop up from time to time, but you don't really like salesy posts that want you to buy something. But then the brand launches a new series of products and suddenly your Facebook feed is filled with these ad-like posts, all from the same company. Annoyed, you unsubscribe and stop buying. Dark posts prevent problems like this by allowing you to keep posts from your general feed and instead target them toward highly specific audiences.
- A wide spectrum of ad-posts: Since you don't need to worry about overwhelming Facebook followers, you can create as many targeted ad-posts as you want and limit them to only specific types of audiences, allowing for much more nuance in marketing different packages.
- A/B testing: Dark posts allow you to create several different versions of the same ad and then try them out to see which gets the most response. You can then publish the most successful post on your general feed with greater confidence.
- You get more information: The combination of the first three benefits means that you receive a lot of specific data about how Facebook users are responding to certain CTAs, subjects, images, and so on. You can use this data to help sculpt broader marketing strategies across other social media platforms and even more traditional media like flyers and commercials.
- You can save your general feed for different things: Followers may not like seeing ad-posts on the general feed, and you may feel the same way. Dark posts allow you to keep the theme of your feed more friendly and engaging without constant ads.
Creating Your First Dark Posts
In case you didn't follow the first Facebook link, Facebook encourages you to create dark posts (not a name Facebook uses) via its Power Editor. If you've ever created Facebook ads before, you probably know how to use the Power Editor: It's probably due for an update, but the tool still works fine. If you use marketing services like Sprout, you can create Facebook posts through these methods and then choose the option for an "unpublished post" or whatever the equivalent option is to turn the post dark.
Bracing for the Future
Dark posts are a relatively new strategy for redefining Facebook marketing, and Facebook has been noncommittal on them so far. If Facebook changes the way that you can create and publish ads, dark posting may no longer exist in its current state, so keep abreast of any changes in this area!