Now’s the time to begin our story about Facebook dark posts…
A long time ago, in a Facebook Ads Manager account far, far away…
No, it’s not a war between the Jedi and the Sith, but rather the battle raging on of advertisers trying to boost conversions in Facebook. This is the question advertisers ask themselves all the time, “What else can I do to get more conversions?”
As advertisers, we search everyday for that new audience, that new offer, or that new piece of content that will be our holy grail and our saving grace.
What if I told you that you don’t need to launch new audiences, new offers, new content, or new ads to lift your account? What if I told you that all you had to do was simply change the way you build and launch your ads?
You might be saying, “Matt, is this some sort of Jedi mind trick?” Well, yes it sort of is. I’ll walk you through the traditional way advertisers build Facebook ads. But I’ll also show you how, if you make one small change, it’s possible to see big lift in a Facebook ads performance.
That Jedi mind trick is called Facebook Dark Posts.
Building Ads The Traditional Way In Facebook
Facebook ads come in many shapes and forms. There are standard banner ads, carousel ads, canvas ads, video ads, page like ads, and many more. Depending on your goals, you’ll build and launch a specific type of ad accordingly.
When it comes to building the ad itself, most advertisers will go into the specific campaign and then the specific ad set to create their ad. It’s simple and easy to do. All you do is click on “Create Ad” and then enter in all your information like the website URL, to the headline, to the CTA button. Once you submit your ad, you’re done.
Using this method, if you want to launch a new ad in another ad set, you simply rinse and repeat. You go into your next ad set, click “Create Ad” and then rebuild your ad again. This method is effective and simple, which is why most advertisers use it.
However, I am here to tell you that this is not the most effective or efficient way to launch your ads.
Why Traditional Ad Builds Fail
Although building ads this way is simple, there’s one huge problem: the lack of social proof. One of the biggest reasons Facebook is set up to be successful is the potential viral effect and social proof that you’re audience can provide.
When you click “Create Ad” and you input all of your information, you have now created an ad with a unique post ID.
The more individual ads you create, the more individual post IDs you create. The big problem here lies when you want to use the exact same ad across multiple ad sets. When I say same ad, I mean the same landing page, the same headline, same image creative, EVERYTHING being the same.
One ad might be relevant across multiple audiences, so you would want to leverage it broadly across your account. However, if you needed to input the same ad in 10 ad sets, if you built it the traditional way, essentially you would be creating 10 different and unique post IDs.
In doing so, you’ve taken away the main benefit of using Facebook: the social proof. With this strategy, all of the likes, comments, and shares that your post will accumulate are now spread between 10 different places rather than just 1, making it much harder and slower to build up the social proof you need to make your ad post successful.
So, now you’re saying, “But Matt, I don’t want to do that. That doesn’t seem very effective. If it’s the same ad, I want my social proof to build up in one place. I don’t want to spread myself too thin. Is there another way?”
Well, call me Obi-Wan Kenobi, because there’s a simple solution. That solution is something we like to call “Dark Posting.”
What Was Dark Posting Originally?
Dark posts sound like some sort of sinister voodoo and black magic, but they’re simply “unpublished page posts”. They used to be officially called dark posts, but were switched due to the confusion around the evil sounding name. But around a lot of advertising communities, these unpublished page posts are still known as dark posts.
With a dark post, you’re essentially creating a post (or ad) with a unique post ID that’s not live or found organically. It’s not located in your Ads Manager either. It’s only found in your page posts tab from the account options in the top left hamburger menu. It’s left there unpublished until you choose to use within your ad sets.
With dark posting, you can choose several types of ad options depending on the campaign and goals you have. You can choose from link (standard banner ad sending to a landing page), carousel, photo, video, and status.
At least, you used to be able too.
What’s Dark Posting Now?
Facebook recently changed how you were able to dark post. When creating an unpublished page post, no more than 6 months ago, you used to be able to create any type of Facebook ad in its entirety as a Facebook dark post.
Notice above how you previously were able to create a dark post of a full ad. You could enter your destination URL, post text, CTA, link headline, all the way down to choosing a photo or video. The end result would look and function exactly like a Facebook ad created in the Ads Manager.
However, if you were to replicate this today, it would appear much different.
Notice how all you can choose now are your URL, post text, and the CTA button. There’s no headline, no descriptor text, and no display link. The posts (ads) are shadows of their former selves with much less options to give your post that extra meat and extra pieces of information to help make your ad higher performing.
To date, there’s not too much information out to as to what led to the change, but it seemed to change overnight.
Think of these extra pieces like AdWords Ad Extensions. You don’t theoretically need them, but they help make your ad perform that much better.
At this point, you say: “What if I want the full ad, but I also want to dark post? I want to only use one unique ID per identical ad. Is there another way?”
Yes, there’s another way. But it’s not technically a dark post anymore.
With Facebook changing up the way dark posting is done, we had to find another way to boost the same post ID–so that we can accumulate the social proof in one place.
We solved this by simply creating an ad the traditional way in Ads Manager. After ad creation, we then look up the unique post ID associated with that ad, we copy it and replicate that same post ID across multiple ad sets (I’ll go step by step of how to do this further down in this post).
The functionality and results of dark posting is still the same. The main difference is that the original source ad is published within Ads Manager. It’s not left unpublished in the page posts tab like before.
Why “Dark Posts” Always Win & Why You Should Use Them
As mentioned before, one of the main reasons Facebook is so successful as a social media platform (start at 8:49) is due to the viral nature and potential of content. Ad content is no different. Social proof is powerful and can help people make decisions, so this should be used to your advantage.
By allowing your social proof to build on one post ID rather than splitting the pie, you’re bettering your viral potential. The more people a potential customer sees talking and engaged with your ad post (that don’t appear biased on the brand side), the more likely they’re to purchase.
If you have an ad post with 10 likes, 3 comments, and 2 shares, that may help convince a customer to purchase. But what if you could have that same post with 100+ likes, 10+ comments, and multiple shares? The user would be much more likely to engage at that point, thinking to themselves, “Woah! This company is a big deal.”
So, what does this look like exactly?
I mentioned earlier how you take the post ID and replicate it across multiple ad sets. It’s actually quite easy to do.
Since we cannot build an unpublished page post the same way anymore, we create our first ad within Ads Manager or Power Editor. Once there, click into your campaign and then click into your ad set that you want to create a new ad in. Once at the ad level, click “Create Ad.”
Once you click “Create Ad,” you’re then brought to the ad creation window. You have two options: 1) Create New Ad and 2) Use Existing Post.
The first time around, we’ll be selecting “create new ad” as we want to create our base ad first before replicating across multiple ad sets.
After making sure you have “Create New Ad” selected, you’ll (as the button implies) create your ad. Make sure to enter everything you want from the destination URL, the headline, the text above the ad, and even the news feed link description if you’re running on Facebook desktop.
After building your ad, save and post the new ad created.
Now that you have a new ad created, you want to replicate that same ad across multiple ad sets without having to build multiple ads. First, you need to grab the post ID of the ad you just created.
To do this, you can grab it one of two ways. The first and easiest is to click on the hamburger menu in the top left and go back to the “Page Posts” window. If you get to the hamburger menu and don’t see “Page Posts” as an option, select “All Tools” and you will find it on the next screen.
Once in the Page Posts screen, your recently created ad will appear at the top of the list.
As you create more and more ads, you create more and more post IDs. When looking for a specific post ID in page posts, you may not find it right away. As you continue to create new ads, the most common way of grabbing a specific ads ID will no longer be within the Page Posts tab, but rather in Ads Manager.
To grab the post ID of a specific ad, go back to your campaigns and go down to the ad level. Once you have found the ad you want, hover over it with your mouse–so that you have the option to select edit and then click edit.
Once you have selected edit, the ad edit option for that particular ad will open. Once there, you’ll be able to edit any aspect of the ad.
Instead of editing the ad, you’ll want to find the little square button with the arrow through it which is found above the ad preview.
After clicking the square arrow button, the next step will be to select the option from the drop down of “Facebook Post With Comments.”
After clicking “Facebook Post With Comments,” you’ll be taken to a page that shows the ad post as if it were live on Facebook. On this screen, you can view all comments, shares, and likes.
But the important part is to look at the top of the screen at the URL of the page. In that URL, at the end, there’s a string of numbers, which is the post ID.
Using this strategy, you can easily find the post ID for any ad.
After you have the post ID, you’ll use this to boost this same post across other ad sets–so that all the social proof is built up together.
The next step is to click into your ad set. When you’re at the ad level, you want to click “Create Ad” as shown earlier. This time, you’ll select “Use Existing Post” instead of “Create New Ad”.
When you’re on the screen for using your existing post, all you want to do is go down to the “Creative” section, enter the post ID you grabbed earlier and post it in there.
Once you enter the post ID and submit, the ad will load along with all of the social proof.
How to Optimize Dark Posts
Like any Jedi, to get better, you need to train and test new strategies and practices with the force. The same goes for optimizing dark posts. You always want to test new variables to improve performance. When it comes to optimization, you want to follow other ad testing best practices:
- A/B Test: Choose one variable to test. You always want to isolate the variable, so you know what’s responsible for being the winner. For example, test the ad image or the headline with everything else staying the same.
- Facebook Optimization: In order to help Facebook optimize your ad, choose the metric that defines your success. 9 times out of 10, you’ll choose conversion or purchase. However, in some cases, you’ll simply want traffic for your content. In that case, you’ll optimize for link clicks or landing page views.
- All Tests As Dark Posts: In order to test faster, make all of your tests as dark posts and then launch them across multiple ad sets. This will help scale your efforts and you can learn faster what works and what doesn’t.
For other tips and strategies, be sure to check out more articles specifically on Facebook advertising from the KlientBoost blog.
Downsides of Turning to the Dark Side?
Like any internal struggle between the light and dark side of the force, there are some downsides for turning.
The biggest complaint about dark posts is that you cannot edit them. If you’ve boosted an existing post to an ad set, you cannot edit the headline or link. If you notice a spelling error, you would have to create a new post and then boost that new post across all of your ad sets.
However, you can edit the original post you first created–but editing that ad will create a new post ID, so you’ll lose all of your social proof. In other words, it’s basically like creating a new ad at that point, and you’ll still have to boost the new post ID across all of your ad sets.
Also, if you’re the type to hard code your utm parameters into the link itself, that will affect tracking across all of your ads.
The reason this will affect tracking is because if you have a utm for “utm_campaign,” that utm will stay with you as you dark post. So, if you want to launch this ad in a new campaign, the utm you created will follow with you as you promote it–so via your crm, it will show all leads from that one campaign.
To eliminate this, you’ll want to utilize Facebook’s “URL Parameters” option at the ad level for each ad post you create.
By using their URL Parameter tool, as you change campaigns or ad sets, you can update your utm parameters accordingly for more accurate tracking.
Wrap Up on Facebook Dark Posts
With social proof being a key part of Facebook’s success in advertising, implementing dark posting will help with your overall Facebook performance.
It will also help with overall efficiency when creating these posts as dark posting is a huge time saver when making the same ad over and over for multiple ad sets.
Have you tried dark posting before? Did you find it easier and more efficient? Did you struggle with doing it right? Or did you receive results that made you happier than Yoda? I would love to hear about your experiences with Dark Posting below in the comments.