June 25, 2020

How to Create a Dark Post on Facebook in 2020 (And What Even is a Dark Post?)

iPhones hovering in a smokey dark scene with what looks like a Facebook dark post on the screen.

This articles covers everything you need to know about Dark Posts on Facebook, and how you can leverage them to save time and improve your Facebook advertising performance.

What is a Dark Post on Facebook?

A ‘Dark Post’ also known as an ‘Unpublished Facebook Post’ is simply a Facebook Post (Created behind the scenes from the Facebook Ads Manager) that can then be used in multiple ways such as: 

  • A stand alone Facebook Advertisement (That is not posted to your newsfeed).
  • An Ad initially and then later published as a live post on your feed.
  • Or use it to mockup a post and schedule a publish date and time that it will appear on your newsfeed later.

How You Should Use Facebook Dark Posts?

  1. Accumulate Concentrated Social Proof

The concept of social proof is something we all know exists but unfortunately many small businesses fail to harness its full power on Facebook.

What is Social Proof?

Social proof is one of the seven cognitive biases discussed in the timeless book Influence (The Psychology of Persuasion) by Robert Cialdini (Ph.D.). Written in 1984, Cialdini draws from proven scientific research in the field of psychology to demonstrate this concept in action. 

From canned laughter in your favorite sitcoms, to bartenders ‘salting’ their tip jars, social proof is being implemented all around us. In Advertising, do you notice how often you hear the words “best selling,” or “top rated”? They don’t have to directly convince us that their product is good, they only need to let us know what others like ourselves think of it. Even charitable organizations often tout the amount of donations received by others. Although perhaps social proof is best illustrated by the example below.

It is without a doubt social proof exists, and it’s up to you as a business owner to leverage it in order to help your business grow. 

The Power of Social Proof

Improved social proof on a Facebook Post or Ad can have a profound impact. You may experience increased conversion rates on your ads as well as a snowballing effect. More engagement will only draw more engagement. As you’re much more likely to interact with a post that already has a ton of likes, comments and shares than you would be to a post with two likes. Additionally, as your post garners more attention overall, in Facebook's eyes, this is a good thing. It means your content is more likely to be high quality and engaging which in turn gets favored in the Facebook algorithm that will boost the posts organic reach. 

Social proof feeds elicit more engagement, which increases your social proof. The cycle repeats itself. Higher social proof correlates with lower cost per result (With Facebook Ads).

Dark Posts on Facebook allow you to run multiple campaigns, and ad sets to fewer overall ads. In a typical advertising campaign on Facebook, you will select your primary campaign objective (one marketing objective per campaign), you then create your ad set (or multiple ad sets to split test against each other), and then finally you create your ad (the creative component of you campaign that includes your headline, body copy, button, image etc.) 

When you follow the standard procedure as outlined above, Facebook automatically creates a ‘Dark Post’ or unpublished post for every single ad. No matter if the same ads were used in previous ad sets. 

So let's say you had a campaign (objective - engagement) and you wanted to test two different audiences (City A vs City B) against each other to see which performs better, and the one which ultimately provides you a better return on your ad spend. Let’s also say you have three different ads that have been carefully crafted that you also want to test against each other. This would mean in total, Facebook would create six different ads. 

And unfortunately all the engagement garnered from the campaign would be split among those six different ads. Even though it is really only three ads all duplicated once. The image below depicts a simple Campaign structure that has resulted in six ad variants.

This problem gets even worse when you have even more Ad Sets and Campaigns. Those three different ads can be exponentially replicated if not managed properly.

Using Dark Posts on Facebook, you can alternatively create the three separate ads that you want to use within your campaign. And then use the same three ads in both ad sets. By doing this you will concentrate all of the engagement towards a much fewer amount of total ads thereby dramatically boosting the social proof on your Ads.

Step your Facebook advertising game up on your next campaign and start using Dark Posts!

  1. Simplify Your Facebook Advertising Campaign Structure

The previous example demonstrates the number one reason to start using Dark Posts on Facebook. The next best reason to start using Dark Posts is to streamline your campaign structure and organization. 

Anyone who has advertised on Facebook knows how quickly things can become disorganized in the back end. With multiple ads sets running across multiple campaigns with perhaps upwards of 50+ different ads to worry about managing, it can easily become a convoluted mess. 

This will affect your ability to make smart business decisions related to your Facebook Advertising campaign. You may overlook turning off lower performing ads, and you may also miss key opportunities to profitably scale an ad.

By streamlining your campaigns you will have greater control and will be able to make better decisions faster. Thus improving your overall chances of even greater success. Simplicity beats complexity.

How to Create a Dark Post on Facebook (Step by Step Guide)

Step 1: Open the Facebook Ads Manager

The first step to creating a Dark Post on Facebook requires you to open up the Ads Manager. This is the backend of Facebook, where you can manage all of your businesses ads, audiences, and anything else relating to your campaigns.

Firstly, open up the Facebook homepage, and click ‘see more’ located along the left side bar. The image below is how the new updated (Spring 2020) layout on Facebook looks.

Next, scroll down until you see the ‘Ads Manager’ option and open it up. Alternatively you can simply do a quick Google Search and find a link to the Facebook Ads Manager from there!

Step 2: Open the Page Post Dashboard

Once you have opened up the Facebook Ads Manager, you next want to option up the Options & Setting Menu located in the top left corner as seen below.

Expand the menu to see all the various options and scroll to the very bottom until you see the ‘Engage Customers’ section and click the ‘Page Posts’ option.

Step 3: Create an Unpublished Page Post (Choose Your Post Type)

You have now accessed the Facebook Page Posts dashboard where you can manage all of the posts related to the Facebook page of your choice. Select the blue ‘Create Post’ button to get started.

Step 4: Choose Dark Post Type and How You Will Use It 

Upon clicking ‘Create Post’ you will be presented with the window that is shown below. You have the option to choose between 5 different post types. Each with their own options and requirements. A link post obviously requires a related URL, videos posts require a video etc. This is your chance to flex your creativity and showcase your business.

After you have selected your post type, and uploaded all the required creative content, you have two options of how you would like to use the  post. Either strictly as an ad or as an ad initially with the ability to schedule and publish at a later time.

Step 6: Publish Post. What’s Next?

That’s all there is to it! After successfully creating a Dark (unpublished) Post, it will appear in your Page Posts dashboard (As seen in Step 3). From here you can select via the sidebar between published posts, scheduled posts, and ads. 

Dark posts automatically populate under the Ads tab even if you selected the option to use the post for an ad with the intention to publish later.

Upon selecting your new dark post you have access to the Post ID (Which can be referenced to during the creation of your Facebook Ads Campaigns), as well as a list of actions you may take which include: Publish, Schedule, Delete, and Create and Ad. You can also see all of the relevant engagement (Clicks, likes, shares etc).

The unique post ID that you acquire is very important and is what you will use to direct multiple ad sets towards when building out a full campaign from the ads manager. A complete step by step Facebook campaign guide is coming soon!

Are Dark Posts on Facebook Completely Hidden?

In short the answer is no. As with Facebook's push towards improved transparency, a relatively new feature called Page Transparency  allows anyone the ability to view all current ads being run from a given page. 

From the Facebook Ads Library, you can also search Pages and associated Ads all in one place. More on what this means for you as a business owner (and advertiser)  in a future post!

Although Dark Posts will not appear on your main news feed unless you decide to publish.

Can You Create Dark Posts on Other Social Media Platforms?

Facebook was the first social media platform to develop and launch dark posts. But now you can find dark posts on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.

Chris Hewitt

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