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The Best Beginner’s Guide to Dark Posts on Facebook and Instagram

dark posts on facebook and instagram graphic

So, you’ve come across the term, dark post, and are here to learn more.

Let’s help you with that.

A Facebook dark post is a social media post shadowed as a targeted ad focused on a target audience that does not appear on the feed of that business’ Facebook page. In this way, a dark post differs from an organic post that you publish and is not the same as a boosted post. 

Also worth mentioning, dark posts do not show up in your followers’ news feed either. Instead, dark post ads are displayed as Facebook ads to the people you are specifically targeting. 

Just like other Facebook ads, a Facebook dark post can be shown in multiple Facebook ad placements including the display network and on Instagram. 

Read the rest of this guide to discover everything you need to know about the what, the why, and when to utilize dark posting on Facebook and Instagram. We will include the benefits and best practices, as well as some of the obstacles you might face when using a dark post ad as part of your social media marketing strategy – and how to overcome them. 

If you’re ready, we are ready! Let’s get started.

Darks Posts vs. Other Ads

Defining Dark Posts

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Dark posts exist on all social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. On Facebook, they are known as “unpublished” posts. 

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The social media giants initially created the concept of dark posts, and on this platform they’re essentially targeted ads that appear in the feed of the targeted group of users.

You can identify a dark post on social media easily. On Facebook and Instagram, for instance, they are marked as “sponsored“, even though they may look like regular ads in your newsfeed.

Other Types of Ads

Boosted Ads

A more common type of Facebook advertising refers to a boosted post or sponsored post. A boosted ad is simply a post on your page’s timeline that is amplified to a wider or more specific audience by paying the platform a certain amount of money. 

When you boost one of your posts, it shows up in the news feeds of your audience as an ad. This allows you to get your message across to a wider range of users and helps you gain more visibility on social media so you can increase your views, engagement, leads, or sales.

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Organic Ads

Organic Facebook marketing is simply the posts that you make on the platform that don’t have a budget behind them. 

These are similar to SEO (search engine optimization) and the social media algorithm can rank your posts based on keywords and a variety of other factors. 

When creating content, it’s important to ensure that it is optimized for both search engines and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Using target keywords and related hashtags can help to increase brand reputation organically across different channels.

With the right strategy, your organic ads can be seen by a lot of people, although the number of users you can reach with unpaid posts on Facebook and Instagram continues to diminish with each passing year, which is one reason SEO is such a useful complement to organic Facebook and Instagram advertisingIf traffic or conversions drop in one channel, the other can be used as a temporary source of stability until everything is moving in the right direction again.

These processes can be time-consuming, and results are not always immediate. Typically, you’ll need to use rank tracking software to track how well a piece of content does on Google while using Facebook and Instagram analytics to look at how reactions and shares change over time.

In both cases, you’ll need time to be able to calculate accurate data and generate actionable intelligence for improving organic ads to increase conversions. 

Sometimes, however, you just don’t have that extra time. Thus,if you want to grow your following faster, you may have to resort to paid posts after all. 

However, the best approach is to create a channel management strategy that integrates the usage of a diverse range of ads across Facebook, Instagram, other social networks, and Google.

 By diversifying ads in this manner, you can use organic ads for long-term success while generating immediate results with paid ads and performing various experiments with dark posts. 

Best Practices for Using Dark Ads

In addition to integrating dark posts with other parts of your digital marketing mix, there are various other best practices you should apply to ensure you are getting the most out of dark ads.

The truth is that you don’t need years of training or experience to become an ad expert. Simply follow the best practices listed below to use dark posts effectively on Facebook and Instagram.

Using Dark Ads on Facebook

  • Develop captivating headlines and unique content to catch your audience’s attention.
  • Split-test images, copy, and headlines to see which ones work best with your particular audience.
  • After running your dark posting campaign, take the time to review the metrics and analyze the results so you see which versions of your ads perform better.
  • Depending on your overall goals and the results of your initial campaign, it may be necessary to re-target or resize your audience.

Using Dark Ads on Instagram

  • On Instagram, it’s a lot more effective to run your dark ads through the identity of an influencer as opposed to your own brand page.
  • Always include stunning visuals, just like the organic ones that make your perfect Instagram grid. Add compelling captions to drive more engagement.
  • Use organic content that fits the narrative of your boosted content on Instagram so you can reinforce your dark ad content.
  • For maximum engagement, use different types of content to create your ads, including photo ads, video ads, stories ads, and carousel ads.

Overcoming Obstacles with Dark Posts

Although dark posts come with a lot of advantages over traditional ads on Facebook and Instagram, they also have their own set of pros and cons. 

Below, we look at some of the obstacles you might face with dark posts, as well as how to overcome each of them.

More Complicated than Other Ads and Posts

The process for using dark posts on Facebook and Instagram can be more complicated than other ads and posts. 

When creating your campaign, note that you will have to use an existing Facebook or Instagram campaign. Alternatively, you can create a new campaign and add overall objectives, and create ad sets that define your target audience and ad placements, as well as your ad spend budget, etc. 

Note that some of these options will change depending on the placements you select. It’s a good idea to use those placements unless you want to create Instagram story ads (vertical videos are most often the most effective types of content to use in Instagram ads that show up within the story placement).

Serves Specific Not General Goals

Dark posts serve specific goals rather than general ones, which means that if you are not looking to show your posts to a targeted audience, then these types of ads may not be ideal for you. 

You only stand to benefit from them if you need to tailor your content to a specific audience. You will be able to decide exactly who gets to see your ad. 

For example you can develop different types of content for each of your business’s buyer personas based on their demographics, interests, etc. This way, you will be able to deliver unique information to each segment without annoying everyone in that group with multiple posts.

Do Not Show Up on a Business Page’s Timeline

Another challenge of using dark ads on Facebook and Instagram is that they don’t appear on your business page’s timeline. 

Although this can often be a good thing because it prevents you from having too many promotional posts on your brand’s page (which means you’re less likely to spam your followers), it also means that you can’t use any of your great performing dark posts to get more exposure for your brand on social media.

When Should You Use Dark Posts?

Listed below are some of the many different scenarios where using Facebook and Instagram dark posts makes more sense than organic ads or boosting.

Use dark posts when:

You want to optimize content via A/B testing.

Since these are ads, you can A/B test different variants to figure out which one performs the best in terms of creative, copy, call to action, etc. This way, you’ll be able to get the best results for your specific objective, whether it’s brand awareness, conversion, sales, etc.

You want precise Facebook ads targeting.

Facebook dark posts will help you unlock the full capabilities of the platform’s targeting options. In addition to using dark posts for your retargeting efforts, you can also use them for prospecting, which makes them a powerful component of every successful marketing strategy.

You want to run dark posts from different identities.

If you have multiple identities on social media (that is, Instagram handles or Facebook pages), then you can use dark posts as a way to power your influencer handles so your ads can run side-by-side with your other brand ads. 

This way, you’ll have additional ways to reach your target audience and drive conversions.

You want to keep your page free from clutter.

With dark posts, your brand’s page doesn’t have to look cluttered with one promotion after another. In fact, this can be off putting to potential customers, and that’s where dark posts come in handy. 

With unpublished page posts, you can precisely target brand-new audiences with your ads, which reduces the risk of spamming your audience and increases engagement and, over time, your organic reach (since followers won’t be tuning your brand out due to too many promotions).

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You want improved overall Instagram and Facebook ad performance.

Creating dark posts gives you the freedom to deliver better results than just boosting your brand’s content. 

You’ll be able to optimize your budget across the entire ad campaign rather than allocating it according to your best guess on individual page posts. 

This means that dark posts will likely outperform boosted posts and you will see an improvement in the results you get from your Instagram and Facebook ads.

You want to deliver specific content to a targeted audience.

When creating digital content, we should always have a target audience in mind. Sometimes, that target audience can become more specific, so we need to find ways to reach them more directly with our content.

Dark posts are a great way to strategically target specific content to your users by including links to the relevant blog post, web page, YouTube video, or other channel you’re trying to funnel them into.

Additionally, you may want to test out new video editors, graphic design tools, or other software on a smaller audience before a larger audience to ensure it has the intended effect. Dark posts are a great way to find the right audience for your test and to target your content to them and only to them.

Are You Ready to Go Dark?

reasons for dark posts

As you’ve seen, using dark posts on Facebook and Instagram comes with a ton of benefits. 

You will get hyper-targeted results and you can make as many ads as you want that are specific to different segments of your audience. This means you avoid spamming followers with a regular flow of information that is not relevant to them. 

Also, dark posts will help you guide your organic traffic better and you can A/B test them to optimize your campaigns. 

Follow the tips in this article to help you leverage the power of dark posts on your Instagram and Facebook accounts so you can start enjoying these and other benefits today.

Are you ready to start using dark posts to enhance your Facebook and Instagram marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments section below!

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