Facebook Dark Posts….What is it? And how can I do it…

Hi I’m Thomas Gibbons. I’ve been a digital marketing manager for 3+ years and avid developer almost 10.

For the last three years I’ve been trying to hone my skills on social advertising especially – Facebook advertising. I’ve made some huge failings but after reworking on my formulas, I now possess a well rounded strategy on socials and although the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are now more than ever, swapped channels – that just means your content, ideas and audience targeting needs to be that damn better…

Wait a second … What is a Dark Post??

I’m assuming reading this article you do know what a Facebook dark post is – if so please skip the next 4 paragraphs.

If not please read on. We all know Facebook, and yes it’s not clear cut, there’s no section called dark posts…

Facebook dark posts is the ability to advertise posts onto audiences data feeds without actually posting the post. In other words currently if Facebook advertising, you might be only be aware of the concept of boosting a post. To boost a standard post, you just link you billing details and under each post you have made on your Facebook page – you’ll see boost – easy enough.

Well dark posts is basically producing an ad within the power editor section but without the intention of ever cluttering your page with i.e. Product promotions. I’m guessing your starting to see the benefits ey? Now to the good stuff…

How to produce a successful Dark Post strategy…

Know lets say for arguments stake we’re a Gym Clothing Company. No matter who you are or what you know before - Your initial goal is:

Identify your audience!

I hear you screaming at the screen. But how do I do that? Well I’m going to let you into my first little secret. YouGov Profiler. If you’re like me and use to working with small budgets this is a great place to start. The profiler itself is easy. Type in a brand, person or thing and see the results…

For my example I've typed in “gym” in the hope to identify a market where I’d like to target gym accessories – the result immediately autocorrected to “going to the gym”.

The first page is always the demographic..

…Immediately I have an audience. No real surprises for the target market here, but the knowledge of “knowing” your target audience is correct and the additional information at hand to target .i.e. Lifestyle, media, personality, online etc..

You now have a free arsenal at hand to target segmented audiences. For those with already researched target audiences or even better large sites, so that your tracking software is somewhat reliable. It’s still worth using the yougov if only to see if it’s reliable – in fact let me know on the comments below if you have time.

On a side note – if you get some free time. It’s worth completing a survey on the yougov site. It’s a great place for data but sometimes falls short on its variety. Ps I don’t work for yougov!

It’s also worth pointing out I’m use to the UK market and this particular data is based around residents and habits of the U.K. Market.

Creating a Facebook Dark Post

If you haven’t noticed already I’ve created this whole post via my mobile. Man I love medium!

Now unfortunately Facebook ads on mobile isn’t all singing and dancing and I want my first condition to be optimised for conversions so forgive the next images I thought it would be cool to create mobile only posts … but Facebook have failed me. Make a note zucks…

This above image (unfortunately from my Laptop) displays the options available to improve your business/page on Facebook. We’re focusing on Website Conversions - so click the bottom option and we’ll go from there.

When building a campaign is split into 3 sections.

  1. Creating Campaign.
  2. Creating Advert Set.
  3. Creating Advert.

Creating a Campaign, is the kind of overall focal point, very much like Google Adwords - where like Adwords you decide the “main” budget for the campaign and identify the top level goals.

This level is very self explanatory, after the objective has been decided i.e. Website Conversions it requires Buying type (Auction or Fixed - *always recommend auction*) and a spend on the actual campaign overall.

It’s well worth noting that a campaign spending limit as a minimum of £100 as I’ve displayed in the image below:

Next up is creating your advert set. This is where you really earn it, so pay attention. First if you’re doing this for the first time you will need to add the Facebook Pixel to your receipt page (no point do all this work to lose the benefit of knowing your FB sale volumes).

Once you’ve thought of a logical daily budget and scheduled the time of the post. I really don’t recommend scheduling posts due to the fact if something negative hits the news, industry etc… the potential reaction to your post could be very damaging. This is a social platform after all…. Be real time social!!

It’s in the target audience where the real magic happens..

Now first of all with all paid targeting, you CAN’T BE TOO TARGETED! Even if you get your targeting down to 10 specific people - good that’s your core and work back from that. The trick is to understand your audience or audiences from alternative data and tracking tools i.e. GA or YouGov as mentioned above etc..

Now my wonderful screenshotting (I’ve made up that word but I’m putting it out there) ability has duplicated a few selected targeting areas below but the important gym related targetings are on show.

First I’ve gone big with Gym very broad but does identify a large scope which I’m planning on returning to when I revise my strategy. Once you identify your targeting intentions Facebook are VERY good at suggesting related targeting.

On inspection: What’s interesting me is the various Fitness Clubs but also WiiFit. If I’m a gym clothing brand and I’ve identified different Gym audiences (or maybe just one big broad one) I’d be trying to identify the different Gym audiences, what their clothing behaviors are and fitness intentions.

i.e. WiiFit would definitely be on the list, a market albeit in the home - its a market which interests me because whats the likely hood your competition or other industries are looking at the WiiFit industry (not many).

I apologise that we’re this far in and this is the first time you see the “real” benefit of Facebook Dark posts.

After this selection I’ve add a few more fitness and gym related targeting (seen below). When you come round to the analyzing you can start gutting out the information.

Placement another key area for your optimization but here’s a few notes of wisdom. First of all if you’re banking on, site conversions. This strategy will very much, mirror your sites current conversion rates.

Meaning if your mobile site has a poor conversion rate, isn’t friendly and all round sucks, you’re not going to benefit from paid channels in general. So exclude.

Also there’s a lot of scope in instagram targeting but I would suggest keeping your Facebook ads separate mainly because instagram is very visual and as a result needs a different approach. No social platform is the same, so don’t assume the targeting strategies are!

No social platform is the same!

So exclude what you feel is necessary or alternatively bid on all and cut back when the data is there.

Ah at last we’ve almost completed our first round of Dark Posting. Creating an ad is actually very easily. Using the above image to help, usually you choose the Facebook business page, further down your site but more importantly this section you develop the “ad”.

Note: Rule of Thumb create 4–5 ads for all campaigns, slightly tweaking each one. Don’t be foolish in thinking you have the perfect ad first time out!

When developing your ads the 4–5 is a good start and don’t expect one of these 5 to hit gold right away — be willing to tweak your images and text! Images are key to all social advertising (unfortunately that’s the nature of the beast) I have some interesting insights into Instagram and Twitter Paid Search which are more image based, (I’m happy to produce depending on comments).

When producing your text ads take in mind the length of title text and extended text. Try to keep the title short (if bidding on mobile) and keep your USP at the front of the extended text section as both are shorted depending on device display sizes.

Finally images, if you want to be taken seriously on the internet now – you need good images. If you don’t have any there’s various sources at good prices or free. iStock and Flickr to name two.

Play with your images and try to use ones that tell a story (I tend to avoid just plain products, have them in “action” – this is social networking after all)

Once happy upload your campaigns….


The key here is not this stage but your next steps. It’s important you return and revise your ads – normally after a few days of data. Kill whats not performing, keep what’s delivering and try to create something similar to the most successful ads. If you return 3 times over… you’re ahead of the game. After 2 weeks you should have a pretty solid campaign and move onto the next one with a note to return in roughly a months time. Be creative and learn from your mistakes.

If you’ve reached the bottom of this post – I hope you have found value in my work. All comments and feedback is truly welcome and appreciated. I’m want to share more of my insights but only if you find value my work. I’m a busy man!

Follow me Thomas Gibbons

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