A dark post is simply a targeted ad on social media. They are called “dark” because they don’t appear on your timeline or your followers’ feeds. On the digital marketers’ part, they show up as sponsored content in the feeds of the users they’re targeting.

On Facebook, dark posts are formally known as “unpublished page posts.” They only appear for the users being targeted.

Other interesting terms…

Read More about “Dark Post

Although dark posts were invented by Facebook, most if not all social media have them now. Here are some examples:

  • A dark post on Facebook
  • A dark post on Twitter
Source: Meltwater
  • A dark post on Instagram
  • A dark post on LinkedIn
Source: HubSpot

What Is a Dark Post For?

The primary reason why companies use dark posts is to separate ads from actual page content. As such, dark posting makes it more possible for brands to run ads that look more organic or less staged like the ads you see on TV. It also allows influencers to partner with brands for whitelisting campaigns.

Influencers are people that can influence potential buyers to buy products or services by promoting or recommending them on social media. They typically have tons of followers, and they are paid by advertisers to promote their products. Marketing campaigns that employ influencers are called “whitelisting campaigns.”

How Is Dark Posting Done?

On Facebook, you can dark post by following these steps:

  1. Log in. Go to Facebook Ads Manager. You’ll be taken to the Campaigns tab.
  2. From there, click the +Create button and fill in the details for your post.
  3. Save your draft. You’ll get a prompt to edit it, do so.
  4. Choose the file format (a video, a photo, a carousel, or an instant experience) you wish your ad to take and you’re done.

While we’re not going to get into how dark posting is done for other platforms, the process is pretty straightforward as well.

What Are the Benefits of Dark Posting?

Digital marketers employ dark posts for various reasons although the primary one is to avoid alienating or annoying your followers. Here are four of the most common reasons:

Go Hyper-Targeted

Dark posting lets you make as many ads as you want that cater to each of your audience segments. Because the ads are unpublished and so don’t appear on every follower’s feed, you avoid spamming them with information that may not be relevant to them.

Do A/B Testing

Dark posting allows you to create multiple versions of each ad. You can do A/B testing or change the image, headline, body copy, or call to action to see which version gives the highest click-through rate (CTR). Note that the higher the CTR, the more money you’ll save on cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns.

In CPC advertising, you pay a specific amount to the publisher for every ad click. On Facebook, that translates to US$0.97 per click.

Improve Paid Social Advertising and Organic Posting Strategies

Based on your A/B tests, you know which images, headlines, copies, or calls to action perform better. You can use that data to guide your strategy for paid social ads. It can also help you use the winning combination to make your organic posts gain better reach and engagement.

Don’t Turn Off Followers

Many people get turned off when they keep seeing ads on brand accounts they follow. They see these as aggressive. Dark posting targets niche audiences so you don’t flood your feed with ads for everyone to see.

Based on the findings of the Social Trends Report, digital marketers cited “increased acquisition of new customers” as the top social media advertising outcome in 2021. Now that you know the answer to “What is a dark post?” and how dark posting can benefit your company, you may want to try it.