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A dark post is an unpublished post, which can be created with the Power Editor as part of Facebook advertising. It appears in the news, but not in the chronicle of a Facebook page, which is maintained by a company. Dark posts are not allowed in the newsfeed of the Facebook page and are therefore also called unpublished posts. But they appear in the timeline of users who were previously defined as target groups. Dark posts are labeled as “sponsored” and therefore resemble newsfeed ads. The difference is that the posting options of dark posts are more extensive than newsfeed ads. Regarding targeting and segmentation, both advertising ads are in no way inferior.
Dark posts were originally a temporary solution. There are several Facebook advertising options. However, only domain ads can refer any interested party to an external website, although page post ads also provide a way to navigate users to an external domain. The targeting options for marketers are limited. Page post ads and domain ads are displayed to all users, cannot be delivered to target groups, and are partly tied to the Facebook page’s media planning. For the precise control of campaigns, many advertisers took the detour via unpublished pages. This approach avoids the dependency on the content plan and increases the targeting options. It is now possible to precisely control newsfeed ads. However, dark posts still offer the advantage of different types of posts, which then appear as sponsored content in the timeline of users.
How dark posts work
If a post is to appear on the timeline of Facebook users, it has to be saved and labeled as an advertisement. This means that a dark post needs to be part of a campaign and have a maximum budget. Although the power editor allows you to edit different posts across the entire campaign, a campaign and an ad group still has to be created. The next step is to create an ad group which is linked to the campaign. Now you can define factors such as budget and runtime. After this, you create the ad which is then assigned to the campaign and the ad group.
If a post has already been created or an old post is going to be used, it must be linked to the campaign and the ad group. (The corresponding options can be found under “Use earlier ad types”). The characteristics of the target group can now be selected. Dark posts can also be displayed on mobile devices. Moreover, there are also numerous options for specifying demographic data, interests, and user categories. As the last step, dark post can be optimized. Maximum offers per clicks (CPC) or costs per thousands of recipients (CPM) can be used. Once the dark post is sent to Facebook, it will be checked and possibly released.
Improved tracking methods
An important difference between dark posts and other ads on Facebook is their tracking. After the creation of a dark post, conversion tracking can be created. Individual tracking codes and tracking pixels can be linked to the URLs in the post. A connection to Google Analytics is possible in principle. Conversions are also available in addition to the usual Facebook data including Likes, Comments and Shares.
In short, the process is as follows:
- Create the campaign and ad group
- Create your ad
- Set the target group
- Optimize prices and control effectiveness
Types of dark posts
There are different types of dark posts available. These can be selected and saved in the power editor.
- Posts with link: Link posts can be provided with call-to-action buttons. It is also possible to customize the link text and image. Different link contributions can be tested with target group definitions.
- Photos & videos: Photo posts offer similar options as link posts. The ad manager also includes the above options for adjusting the post and target group. Thus, the photo post can be used as an ad or published on a page, which organically distributes it. The integration of call-to-action elements would be sensible especially for the organic sector since user attention is high.
- Status updates: The Power Editor is not suitable for the traditional creation of status updates. The same goal can be achieved with a publication on the Facebook page. However, selected status updates can be advertised and controlled using the targeting options. This type of post is also intended to create a very high level of commitment.
- Offers: This type of post can only be created in the Power Editor and is suitable for events, sales, and limited offers. The post options also include promotional codes to redirect prospective customers to a login form for a website. This is the only type of post that cannot be created by other means.
Dark posts have some advantages over other advertisements on Facebook. The type of post can be very precisely selected and is therefore relevant for sales and event promotion. There are other possible uses, which can, however, be replaced by newsfeed ads with the exception of the sales posts:
- Segmentation by targeting interests and other characteristics; promotion of products, services and brands; content curation of editorial posts with Facebook Carousel Ads as well as AB testing of different posts.
- Micro campaigns for landing pages, branding, and advertising campaigns.
- Visual marketing and image metaphors
- Commitment and feedback; registration for newsletters, beta-testers, as well as profit games.
Because Facebook sometimes changes its advertising options and user interface, it may well be that dark posts will no longer be available as an advertising option. However, they can still be used within the context of inbound marketing, content marketing, and content republishing, as well as word of mouth marketing.
- How and why to create a “Dark Post” in Facebook smartinsights.com. Accessed on 05/13/2016
- 4 Ways to Use Dark Facebook Posts for Business socialmediaexaminer.com. Accessed on 05/13/2016