The first time I ever heard about Facebook dark posts was during an interview with a social media agency. (Back to what feels like a lifetime ago when I thought that was the right path for me!)
They said “we can see from your portfolio that you’re using dark posts successfully, which is great. Tell us about your experience with them.”
To which I replied with a resounding “uuuuuummmmmmm (awkward 15 second pause) sorry, what kind of posts?”
Turns out I knew exactly what they were, but I’d never heard the term before. Dark posts sounded wa-hey too cool for the simple Power Editor strategy I’d been using to target specific audiences. But I guess a post by any other name doesn’t sound as badass, so “dark posts” it is.
Let me first say that there is a LOT you can learn about Facebook dark posts. Like, a lot a lot. There are entire training courses built around the topic.
But in this post, I’m walking you through the basics to teach you what they are, why they’re effective, and next steps to start using them.
What are Facebook dark posts?
Simply, dark posts are unpublished Facebook posts…that show up in people’s News Feeds. Sound like a contradiction?
It kind of is. They’re posts (or ads) that show up in News Feeds looking, sounding, smelling, and tasting like regular ol’ Facebook posts. But if users click through to your page, they won’t find them anywhere on your wall.
How is this possible? Well, the trick is in how you create them. Instead of posting through Facebook itself, dark posts need to be created using Facebook’s amazingly awesome ad tool, Power Editor. This allows them to bypass your wall and jump straight into the News Feed.
Why should you use Facebook dark posts?
The purpose of dark posts is to target a select group of people with your message…a message that you don’t want the rest of the world to see on your page.
For example, let’s say November is Lobster month at Yummo, a local restaurant. They really want to spread the word and encourage both their current and new customers to come in and order lobster entrees.
They could create two different dark posts for this ad that talk to very select groups of people.
The first could be designed to encourage their current customers to come in by offering them a 25% off loyalty coupon, valid on all lobster dishes during November. This post would be targeted at current fans of their page. It might look something like this:
The second group of people they want to target could be lobster lovers who are not yet their customers. With this post, the restaurant might want to target people who are not fans of their page, who like pages related to seafood and lobster, who make above a certain household income (lobster ain’t cheap after all!), and who live within a 25 mile radius of the restaurant. That ad might look like:
With both of these posts, the restaurant doesn’t want just anybody accessing and using these coupons, so they don’t want them to show up for the public to see on their wall. Dark posts are the answer.
Downsides to Facebook Dark Posts
Now that you have an idea of what Facebook dark posts are and why you would want to use them, on to the logistics.
First, you have to be willing to spend a little money. But on the upside, they are cheap. You can set any budget your little heart desires, there is no minimum spend amount. You can set either a lifetime budget for the ad, or you can bid on a cost per click (CPC) basis. I personally like to set a lifetime budget because that’s easier for my accounting purposes.
They also require planning upfront. Each ad must be submitted and approved by Facebook, so make sure that you’re not waiting until the last possible minute to post it. In my experience, approvals happen quickly (within an hour or so,) but you definitely don’t want to be sweating it out if you have a tight deadline.
You’ll need to be careful with your graphics. One of the reasons your ad wouldn’t be approved is too much text in your image. You can only have 20% of your graphic contain text, and I can tell you from experience, they are sticklers! You can use this handy text percentage checker thing to test your post graphic before you submit it.
There are also content stipulations when it comes to Facebook dark posts. I had one turned down that was about wine, because I hadn’t set a minimum age limit to 21. So keep that in mind when you’re designing your post.
Where to Go From Here
Liking what you hear about Facebook dark posts and want to try a few out? You’ve got two options:
1. Get your learn on. I definitely do not recommend just jumping into the Facebook Power Editor and winging it. There are too many things that could go wrong. But there is tons of free information about the Facebook Power Editor and all the cool capabilities it has, if you’re willing to search and learn. (If you want more info on this, let me know in the comments and I’ll make a tutorial about it!)
2. Hire somebody. This is the route most people choose to go, because it’s easier and more cost-effective to outsource Facebook ads management. I bet it will be way more affordable than you think. If you’re interested in learning more, definitely let me know – I’d love to put a proposal together for you!
People have a lot of questions about the future of Facebook (rightly so!) and my personal opinion is that advertising is only going to become more important for businesses. It’s getting tougher and tougher to have your posts be seen by your audience organically and advertising is the smartest way, at least right now, to reach them.
One word of advice: make sure any post you use as a dark post is valuable for your audience. If businesses just throw spam at people over and over again with dark posts, people are going to start to tune them out. As with any social marketing campaign, keep your audience’s needs and wants in mind, and you’ll do well with Facebook dark posts!
Have you ever used Facebook dark posts before? What were your biggest challenges, biggest successes, and/or your results?
If you’re new to Facebook dark posts, how do you feel about them now? Could you see yourself using them in your business? What other questions do you have?