One of the best reasons to be involved with social media marketing is that there’s always something new to learn and explore. Of course, many of our readers will be familiar with the concept of dark posts, whether that’s on Facebook or an alternative platform. But, for those who aren’t, especially those who are still using boosted posts, there’s an opportunity for even better results.
There are certain similarities between boosted posts and their dark counterparts. Both represent paid advertising on the platform to position posts in the feeds of your target audience. However, the critical difference is that dark posts exist as ads and nothing else. They don’t appear on your regular feed, and they don’t go out to people that follow you already – unless they fall into the specified target audience.
Conversely, regular boosted posts involve taking something you’ve already posted to Facebook and paying for further reach. If you’ve experimented with boosted posts already, alongside conventional Facebook advertising, you’ll know that there are nowhere near as many options with the former as the latter. Dark posts represent something of a middle ground, whereby your paid posts benefit from all the flexibility of ads while still appearing in the main feed.
You’ve probably segmented your audience in dozens of ways already. Dark posts enable you to communicate directly with those segments without compromising everyone else. Boosted posts require a more general tone regardless of who you target, as anyone that visits your page will be able to see them. With dark posts, you can target people of certain ages, in specific job roles, or even an exact location. You can use a VPN to emulate their location, too, to see firsthand how your post appears and what other local promotions appear nearby.
Some sectors work particularly well with this kind of hyper-targeting, almost giving people that see your post the sense that you’re talking to them specifically. Of course, that’s bad practice with boosted posts but can revolutionize your Facebook marketing.
Most social media managers work to a schedule and have a good idea of what’s coming up over the next few weeks. They might even have scheduled those posts already. However, you’ll occasionally have post ideas that you’re not sure about. They might be controversial, off-brand, or with a slightly different message to what your audience is accustomed to. They’re even a great way to experiment with a total rebrand if you have that in mind, which often comes with its own risks.
Dark posts enable you to take those ideas and share them with a limited audience to see how they react. If they perform well and gain positive engagement, they confirm the idea is good and may even suggest additional tweaks. If they do so poorly, they can be removed, never to see the light of day again.
If you’re deep into social media marketing, you’re already well-aware of split testing. It’s not really applicable to boosted posts as different posts are unlikely to reach the same kind of audience. With just a tweak to images or copy, the similarities between the two can easily clog your timeline.
Dark posts are different, and you can split-test as many variations as you like. It ties in nicely to the first point about targeting specific audiences, as you can quickly see how small changes resonate with different segments.
When you pay for advertising, the end goal usually involves making a return on that investment, and rightly so. However, pushing sales or encouraging people to join your funnel doesn’t always match your brand’s tone and style. For example, you might be positioned around information provision or delivering a service. If that’s what your core audience is used to, promoting special offers and discounts may not be what they want to see.
Dark posts ensure you can get the message out to people that need to see it without occupying your existing audience. Naturally, the fact that you’re using dark posts and often with a specific audience in mind means that you can also carry out large-scale reporting based on specific data. There’s nothing like big data to inform the next stage of your marketing campaign.
We’ll finish off our tips with hard facts. Dark posts almost always perform better than their boosted counterparts when it comes to profitability. Boosted posts still have a place, especially if your current focus is on raising brand awareness and increasing followers and engagements. However, if your focus is firmly on revenue and sales, the specific messaging and targeting of dark posts will lead to more significant returns overall.
It does require some nuance, as dark posts are often slightly more expensive than boosted ones initially. Therefore, it’s essential to have a plan in place, so you don’t blow the entire marketing budget on things that are unlikely to perform. However, the nature of these posts means that it’s always an opportunity to experiment, so there’s no need to drag down the KPIs if not every effort pays off immediately.
As always in social media, it’s a learning opportunity as you discover more about your potential audience, what resonates with them and how much each post can add to your future budget.
While boosted posts still have a place and can maintain a position in your social media strategy, it might be worth considering the benefits of dark posts if you want to do more than attract new followers and get your name out there. While a boosted post enables you to target followers, their friends, or people that fall into a handful of targeting categories, dark posts unlock the full capabilities of Facebook’s targeting methods, just like ads. Those posts then still appear in the correct feeds without going out to everyone.
There’s a learning curve like any form of PPC advertising, but it’s all part of the fun!
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