Facebook Dark Posts | What Are They and How You Can Use Them

Megan AndrewFacebook Ad Management, Social Media Advertising

What Are Dark Posts

You may have heard of dark posts on Facebook or Instagram, and wondered what they are.

Despite sounding somewhat ominous, dark posts aren’t as scary as they sound.

They are simply unpublished page posts which can only exist as ads, rather than existing on your profile page (or timeline). They do NOT exist as regular organic posts or boosted social content, therefore leaving your page fans or followers in the dark. Get it?

However, due to Facebook’s recent move to transparency, any social media user can now see a Page’s ads on Facebook, by going to their profile and selecting the “Info and Ads” tab on the left-hand side. So, nothing shady here.

Dark posts on Instagram and Facebook allow you to advertise as much as you want without annoying your followers or detracting from your other communications and content.

Want to know what the difference is between a Facebook dark post vs ads?

Essentially, there isn’t one. Dark posts on Facebook and Instagram are just unpublished posts run as ads, through Business Manager.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the benefits of these mysterious dark posts and telling you just how to create a dark post on Facebook. Allowing you to amplify the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing.

Why Should You Use Face Dark Posts in 2019?

Dark posts on Facebook and Instagram allow you to develop much more sophisticated ads, saving you money, and allowing you to create much more strategic and targeted social content.

Why? There’s a number of reasons:

  1. A/B Testing

    Dark posts only exist as an ad, so you can complete A/B split testing and refine and optimize your ad, testing different elements.

    For instance, you may want to test different ad creatives, so you can use four different ad creatives with the same copy and audience. You might want to test a video vs an image.

    Your results might conclude that your young female target audience is more likely to click on ad creatives featuring people of her own age in groups of friends.

    Or, you might want to split test different audiences and find out which one performs the best for your products or campaigns.

    Each time, through A/B testing and optimizing, your targeting will get more specific and your ad costs are likely to become cheaper.

    A/B testing can be particularly effective if you’re releasing a new product or service, and/or you’re not sure of your audience or specific targeting.

  2. More efficient targeting

    Say you’re promoting a special offer with a wide audience.

    Rather than targeting only one group of people by boosting a page post, using Facebook dark posts, you can target multiple groups of people with different targeted ads or offers, using slightly different creatives every time.

    All the while, you can gather insights according to which one performed the best, or which creatives to use with each audience.

  1. No spammy posts

    Having ads which aren’t necessarily displayed on your profile page means that your audience who aren’t necessarily as interested won’t unlike, or unfollow you.

    Otherwise, your feed might turn into something resembling a catalogue and you may be posting ads or offers which are irrelevant to those users.

    Maybe your audience has already converted, or is interested in your brand but only in specific products or services.

    Instead, specific targeting used for dark posts means that they will only see what is relevant to them and you can leave your feed for other content or brand messages.

    You can use your dark posts and paid strategy to inform your organic content as well, testing various content types, copy, offer types or themes.

How to Create A Dark Post on Facebook

To create a dark post on Facebook, you’ll need to use Facebook Business Manager and follow the below steps.

  1. Go to your Business Manager menu
  2. Click “Page Posts”. From here, you can create your dark posts

  1. Hit “Create Post”
  2. Select your post type. You’ll be able to upload an image post, video, link, carousel or Story. Add your copy and assets or links. Your Facebook Dark Post dimensions will be the same as they would be for a normal Facebook ad, for more information see here.

  1. Add your CTA. You can select a number of actions such as “Book Now”, “Subscribe”, “Get Offer”, etc.
  2. You can then select “Only use this post for an ad”, which will mean that the post will not be published to your page, and will be a dark post. If you’d like to create the post as an ad, and also publish the post to the page later, select the second option.

  1. Hit “Create Post”. You now have your dark post! The post will not be live anywhere until you use it to create an ad. To do this, use the tick button on the left-hand side to select your post.
  2. Click on the “Actions” button and select “Create Ad”.

  1. You can then create your ad, using a number of objectives. When creating a dark post in this way, there are only a few options, unlike creating ads through business manager by first setting up a campaign. If you choose to set up an ad campaign, there are more options available to you.

  1. Add your targeting, budget and a time you’d like to run the ad in. If testing, we recommend running the ad for a shorter period and no more than a week (depending on the campaign and objectives).
  2. To try A/B testing, select your live campaign and hit “duplicate”. Then select the option “Create a test to compare a new ad set to your original ad set” and repeat the process. This time, you can test a variety of elements by setting up a new ad changing any of the following:
    • New audiences
    • Different ad creatives
    • Different copy
    • Different time of day targeting
    • Facebook ads vs Instagram ads

  1. When A/B testing, it’s important to only test one element at a time, so that it is very clear what is influencing your results
  2. It’s also very important that you set the same budget and (ideally) run the two A/B tests at the exact same time, otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize correctly.
  3. You can run more than two A/B tests at a time. In fact, you can run multiple A/B tests at a time testing a number of ad creatives and/or audiences, as long as you continue to keep the other campaign elements the same.For instance, if you have a larger budget, you might test 4 different audiences using the same 3 creatives.If you have a smaller budget, we recommend only testing one element at once, but it may take longer to gain insights.

Pro tip: Remember, one ad creative may work better with one audience than it does with another. What works for 18-year-old girls may not work for 35-year-old women so ongoing testing and optimizing is important.

How to Optimize Your Facebook Dark Posts

Once you have set up A/B testing for your Facebook dark posts, the next step is optimizing, measuring and reporting on your ads.

To optimize your Facebook Dark Posts, review the A/B tests according to your campaign objective.

In terms of when to do this, this will depend on your campaign length and how much money you can afford to spend, but generally, you should be able to see sufficient results after 24 hours (unless your campaign is not performing). If you’re running a conversion campaign and have selected a 7-day conversion option, this may take over a week.

If your objective is engagement, you will be reviewing the Cost Per Engagement (or perhaps the number of comments if that is more important for you).

If your objective is traffic, you will be reviewing the Cost Per Click.

If your objective is conversions, you will be reviewing the Cost Per Conversion.

You’ll be looking for the best performing Ad. Turn off the ads that have the highest cost per result. Then, add the remaining spend to the other ad that is performing better.

Now you have optimized your ad!

Still want to improve your ad results? Using the existing ad, duplicate this again, and this time change the audience. Choose to either narrow the interests or flex your audience by adding additional interests.

Once the campaign is complete, make sure to review your results and record your successes and failures. This way you can run even more effective ads for your next campaign.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that other elements may be affecting your ad cost, such as increasing ad costs at Christmas time, Mother’s Day or other seasonal shifts.  An increase in advertisers will mean more businesses competing for your ad space and audience, which means increased costs.  Sometimes, what is a “cheap” ad cost one month may not be cheap the next.

To create dark posts on Instagram, use the same process, except you will be selecting the Instagram ad placements instead of Facebook when creating your ad. You may even want to A/B test the same ads on Instagram vs Facebook, but keep in mind the differences between the two platforms and how this may affect ad performance.

Remember to keep testing and optimizing your Facebook and Instagram dark posts and ads. If you do, you may be able to stay ahead of the curve and ensure your ad costs stay low, despite an increasingly saturated market.

Streamlining Your Dark Post Engagement

When running ads on Facebook or Instagram, you will receive interactions (likes, reactions, shares) as well as comments. These comments often come in the form of questions that relate to your product or service. These are great opportunities to interact with potential customers and help them make a decision sooner.  It’s critical that you respond to these comments as early as possible to capitalize on your product/service being top of mind.

To help make the management of these comments easier, MavSocial’s Social Inbox displays all of your social media engagement in a single stream. Even your unpublished dark posts. Saving you valuable time and allowing you to respond directly from your inbox.

What are you waiting for? Streamline this and many of your other social media marketing activities today with a free 14-day trial.

About the Author

Megan Andrew

Megan is a Sydney-based Social Media Strategist, content creator and writer. She specializes in developing a strong digital footprint for her clients and creating content that converts.