What Are Facebook Dark Posts? Definition, Tips & Best Practices

It’s no secret that mobile is the platform of modern marketing. This is where your customers live and play. This is where they make their purchasing decisions. And, increasingly, this is where they actually make those purchases.

As a result, social advertising is evolving at light-speed. And, as ever-changing and sometimes-confusing as it is, you have to keep up.

Luckily, as social advertising evolves, it simplifies: It’s never been easier to create powerful social ads. And in this realm, Facebook is a pioneer; they were the first platform to offer so-called “dark posts” – one of the most powerfulmost effectivemost efficient and yet, underutilized social marketing methods available today.

What are Facebook dark posts?

what are Facebook dark posts

Think of Facebook dark posts as lighting your ad for only the eyes who should see it

Facebook “dark posts” – sounds a bit foreboding, no?

The thing is, they’re not. Maybe Facebook got the memo or maybe they just decided to rename for clarity’s sake, but what were once known as Facebook dark posts are now simply unpublished Page posts. In other words, targeted ads and/or sponsored posts.

Facebook dark posts, aka unpublished page posts, are “dark” in the sense that they’re not visible for your entire Page audience. In other word’s they are highly targeted ads that are available only to a select audience.

They don’t live on your Facebook page. Dark posts exist only for the audience(s) you select, on their own news feeds. Or, in the words of Facebook itself, “Unpublished Page posts allow Page admins to manage delivery of ad content through audience filters.”

When and why would you publish Facebook dark posts?

are Facebook dark posts bad

Welcome to the Dark Side (kinda not really)

Of course, it depends on your business, but chances are, at some point, you’ll have a product or offer that appeals to only a part of your demographic.

Let’s talk examples because specifics are better than generalities:

  • Example #1: Your travel company promotes both honeymoons and family vacations. Most often (although not always), these are two different audiences. But, if you go the standard Facebook Ad route, you’ll create one ad for honeymoons and one ad for family vacations, but they’ll both get served to your entire Page audience. In other words, you’d be paying for honeymooners to see your family vacation ad/sponsored post, and families to see your honeymoon ad/sponsored post.
  • Example #2: Your tech company offers entry-, intermediate-, and advanced-level versions of the same product. You create a different ad for each and, what’s more, you create different ad versions for A/B testing. Deploy your ad campaign and suddenly, your Page feed is flooded with not just three ads, but multiple versions of those three ads.

Dark posts create excellent opportunities for precision targeting and A/B testing, while preventing your campaigns from spamming your timeline or your Facebook followers’ feeds. Dark posts also offer a good indication of which posts (wording, images, links, etc.) work best, which in turn can inform and improve your organic posting.

Bottom line: Often, when you’re creating Facebook ads, your ad doesn’t apply to your entire Facebook audience. Dark posts solve the problem by serving ads only to their target audience. No to embarrassment (because your feed exploded with X different ad versions), no to irritated unlikes, and yes to better ROI.

How to create a Facebook dark post

Facebook Ads Manager Page Posts

You can create Facebook dark posts via the Ads Manager

Now that you’re sold on the marketing value of dark posts, you’re probably wondering how to create them for your own Page.

Creating Facebook dark posts (again, “unpublished Page posts”) is fairly simple, at least as far as mechanics go. (All the behind-the-scenes marketing, audience targeting, ad creation, etc. – well, that’s maybe not so simple! But that’s another post for another day. See below.)

Create Facebook Unpublished Post

There are a few different types of dark posts you can create, for example a carousel or photo post

Here’s how to create your very own Facebook dark posts:

  1. Go to your Facebook Ads Manager.
  2. If you administer multiple Pages, choose the Page you’re currently working on.
  3. Click Facebook Ads Manager button-min and navigate to Page Posts.
  4. Click 
  5. Choose the type of post (ex. link or video) you’d like to create and fill in all details of your ad.
  6. Select the option, “Only use this post for an ad.” This means the ad will not show up on your Page’s timeline.
  7. Click Create Post.
  8. Then, target your ad.
  9. Repeat for as many ads and audiences as you’d like.

Pretty simple, isn’t it? Now, go forth and ad-ify. But wait!

How to create the best Facebook dark posts

Facebook dark posts aren’t a magic potion; their mere creation does not guarantee success. So, before you start creating dark posts left and right, you should be sure to first design super powerful Facebook ads – ads that will get results. Because, while the step-by-step creation of dark posts is straightforward and simple, their creation isn’t.

If you’re looking for more Facebook marketing answers, we have all kinds of helpful resources like our post on how to pin a Facebook post.

For your reading and ad-creation pleasure:

That should get you started but if you have any specific questions or Facebook ad-creating concern, please leave a comment and we’ll help you find the answer.

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ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

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