Dark Posting to Instagram and Facebook: How Does It Work in 2023

Dark posts are targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media.

Unlike boosted and organic posts, however, dark posts don’t appear on your timeline. Nor do they show up in the feeds of the people who follow you.

Instead, dark posts show up as sponsored content in the feeds of users you are specifically targeting. They’re not published like organic posts, so they’re more formally known on Facebook as unpublished posts.

A lot of marketers use a combination of boosted posts and dark posts because of their effectiveness in encouraging conversion. A survey from Curalate shows that across all social media channels, 76% of consumers buy products discovered through social media. According to SocialPilot, however, the average reach of an organic Facebook post is at only 5.2% of the page’s total likes, highlighting the need to invest in boosted and dark posts on Facebook to increase reach.

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How Do Dark Posts Work?

They’re called ‘dark posts’ because they’re not officially on your page and only exist for the users your brand is specifically targeting. To be clear, however, dark posts are completely unrelated to dark social, which refers to traffic from social media to your website that isn’t detected by analytical tools.

Dark social refers to traffic to your website from social media that isn’t detected by analytics tools. Dark posts, on the other hand, are simply social media ads that don’t show up on your timeline

Facebook invented dark posting, but it has since existed on various social media platforms. It continues to be an effective format on most social media. Whether you’re advertising on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or another social platform, you can choose to either boost organic content or create a dark post.

What are the Benefits of Dark Posting?

Part of creating a rock-solid social media strategy for a brand, involves being able to accurately, flexibly, and reliably garner data that influences your audience – without directly impacting your organic content.

Some of the ways in which dark posting accomplishes this are:

Benefits of Dark Posting

It Allows You To Work Around Content Schedules
With dark posts, you don’t have to tamper with your existing content publishing plans – if you have some hot, relevant content, and want it to hit audiences without breaking up your schedule, dark posting can get the job done.

It Allows You To Push Sales Content Without Compromising On Your Feed
As dark posts aren’t part of your feed, you can use them to push more CTA-style content to your audiences. This allows you to grab quicker sales, but without turning your social media feed into an unnecessarily pushy hellscape.

It Allows For Quick A/B Testing
Let’s say you’re testing out two content variations – one that’s text-heavy, while the other focuses on images. Regular posts will simply crowd your page with copy variations, while dark posts allow you to track each post’s performance individually and make key decisions about your copywriting style and design choices.

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Facebook Dark Posts

A Facebook dark post is also called an ‘unpublished page.’ It’s an ad that isn’t published on an advertiser’s feed or Business Page. Rather, it shows up on the feeds of targeted customers only. To advertise via Facebook dark posts, you can use Facebook Ad Manager and choose how you want to distribute them.

Facebook dark posts are great for testing out results for A/B testing because you can test out ads with consumers and decide on what to send out to new audiences. Dark posting allows you to control how many times specific audiences see certain posts.

Essentially, you can manage how the ad is seen, scheduling it for a future date, or making it part of a promotion under a larger set of campaign materials.

How to Dark Post on Facebook

Access Your Posts via Ads Manager
Go to Facebook Ads Manager. Click the drop-down box and select ‘Page Posts’ under Create & Manage.

Create a Dark Post
You’ll be taken to a screen containing all unpublished, published, and scheduled posts. Click ‘Create Unpublished Page Post’ and fill in all the details of your ad.

Remember to select the first option that says ‘Only use this post for an ad.’ This will not publish the post to your company’s Page, making it a dark post. The second option will, however, eventually post the ad to your Page.

Select or Create Your Desired Audiences
If you’re a previous user of Facebook Ads Manager, you can choose your already-segmented ad sets in this step. If you’re new to it, you’ll get a chance to create audience segments once you create a campaign.

You can get really specific with your audience segmentation. You can include age, gender, interests, behaviors, languages, and location. Being as specific as possible will allow you to reach the audiences that will connect with the message of your ad the most, aka, your target audience.

To access this page, go to the drop-down box, then select ‘Ads Manager,’ select ‘Audiences,’ select ‘Create Audience,’ select ‘Custom Audiences,’ then ‘Facebook Page.’ You’ll then be prompted to create and segment audiences.

Tip: Here’s how you can monitor the results of your ads via Facebook Ads Manager.

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Instagram Dark Posts

Instagram dark posts are similar to those of Facebook. They don’t appear on the advertiser’s timeline, page, or stories. They instead appear on the feeds and stories of targeted audiences. A ‘sponsored’ tag likewise appears at the top, as well as a call to action at the bottom. Essentially, if you think of it this way, all Instagram ads are dark posts.

If you run an Instagram page, you can use your own brand for dark posting. You can also use your brand ambassadors’ pages, as well as those of other influencers who’ve agreed to promote your brand.

How to Dark Post on Instagram

Dark posts on Instagram allow you to create a variety of content formats:

  • A single photo
  • A single video
  • A carousel of photos and videos
  • IG stories

You can target your Instagram dark post by age, gender, location, interests, and more. You can also target users who are ‘lookalikes’ of the ones you already have (your existing customers and followers).

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There are two ways to place ads on Instagram:

  • By promoting an existing post within the app
  • By creating ads via Facebook Ads Manager

How to place Instagram ads within the app:
Promote a post that you’ve already created. Choose one with the most engagement and click ‘promote’ (in the lower right corner) to run it as an ad.

  • Promote a post that you’ve already created. Choose one with the most engagement and click ‘promote’ (in the lower right corner) to run it as an ad.
  • Do note that you’ll need to have an Instagram business profile to see the ‘promote’ option. If you’re using a personal profile, convert it to a professional one first.

How to create Instagram ads in Facebook Ads Manager

  • Go to Ads Manager
  • Select ‘Create’
  • Choose an Instagram ad objective
  • Select ‘Continue’
  • Fill in the necessary details for your ad
  • In the placements section, you have the option to select Manual placements and select ‘Instagram’ to have your ads appear on Instagram. Automatic placements will run your ad across Facebook as well as Instagram.
  • Select ‘Continue’
  • Complete your ad by adding details on your ad’s identity, format, and related links.
  • Once you have added these details, you’ll be able to preview your ad before submitting it for review.
  • Your ad will appear on Instagram once it’s been approved.

Dark posts are a great way to promote your brand without having to crowd your timeline or page with ads. You also won’t bother existing followers with ads that are meant for new, potential clients.

In this guide, we’ve shown you a detailed guide for creating dark posts, which you can bookmark for later reference. We hope this helps you create your very first dark post on Facebook or Instagram.

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