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Facebook Dark posts the benefits for small business

Published by on May 12, 2014

Today many brands are creating unpublished dark posts on Facebook to strengthen their advertising efforts. Those in the know can create unpublished posts that do not appear on their brand page’s timeline, but can be accessed via a direct link from a Facebook advert that appears in users’ news feeds. Basically they are ‘sponsored’ pieces of content that can be targeted at a specific group of users. Here we will explain how to create an unpublished dark post on Facebook and the many benefits of doing so.

What is an unpublished dark post on Facebook?

If you are still unsure what an unpublished dark posts on Facebook is here’s a little clarification. Basically Facebook allows advertisers to promote unpublished dark posts within the news feeds of others. An unpublished dark post can be an update, link share, video or photo. Rather than appearing as an organic post, when you create an unpublished dark post, your content will be used as an advertisement and shown to a selected audience. Unpublished posts do not contribute to ‘People Talking About This’ counts or appear in Page Insights.

When Facebook first allowed unpublished dark posts, they could only appear in the sidebar. Today you can create unpublished dark posts that appear in the news feeds of users, the place where they are most likely to engage with content. Whereas in the past dark posts could only appear in the sidebar, Facebook now allows them to appear in targeted users’ news feeds. Seeing as the news feed is the most engaging place on the website, it is no wonder that so many brands are now utilising unpublished dark posts in their advertising campaigns.

How to create an unpublished dark post on FacebookThe first step is to load the Power Editor app and ensure it is synchronised with your Facebook page and account. Power Editor is a Chrome app that is designed for users that regular advertise on Facebook. It is much more functional than Facebook’s own ad platform and allows for better control. To synchronise it with your account you will need to go to ‘manage pages’ in power editor, which you will find on the left in the top navigation bar.

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Creating your unpublished post

You will then need to select your Facebook page and press ‘create post.’ If you are creating a link post, make sure that the photo up upload is at the optimal size (100 x 627 pixels) and that any text it features abides to Facebook’s 20% rule, or it may be rejected. Once you have finished, click ‘view post.’ Remember to copy the URL and paste it in a word document in case you want to re-visit it later.

Making a campaign

If you are happy with how your unpublished post looks, you can move onto creating your ad. Go to Power Editor and click ‘create a new campaign’ and then create a new ad within that campaign. Once you have created the campaign, upload it by pressing the green button. Make sure it is selected and then create a new ad, giving it the same title as the campaign. This will make it much easier to identify when you have multiple ads in the future.

Configuring your campaign

Use the Power Editor wizard to complete the following sections:


Select your unpublished post from the drop down list. In this section you will be able to select the type of ad you want to publish e.g. News Feed (desktop and mobile) and / or right-hand sidebar.


Here you will define whom you want your ad to target. You can choose from a wide range of criteria, such as targeting by country, age, gender, as well as people with certain interests. If you are looking to advertise your Facebook page to new fans, make sure that you tick the box that says ‘I don’t want to advertise to people who are already fans.’

Optimisation and pricing

In this section you will be presented with a number of different options. The criteria you choose here will depend on the type of campaign you are running and what has worked for you in the past. Once you have completed this section click the green ‘upload changes’ button.

From here on, the fate of your ad will be in the hands of Facebook. They can take anything from minutes to days to check and approve your ad. Sometimes they will even approve your ad and then unapproved it if it violates their 20% text rule.

Viewing engagements

If you want to see if users are engaging with your unpublished posts, open Power Editor, locate the post and click ‘view post.’ This will allow you to see the post in Facebook. From there you will be able to view notifications, like you would when you receive a comment or like on any other Facebook post.

Measuring results

Once your unpublished posts have been approved, you should monitor them to see which have the highest click through rate. The higher the click through rate of your ad, the more effective it is. If you have a low click through rate, it will suggest that your post is not engaging with users and is therefore not worth spending any time or money on. Posts with higher click through rates will help you save money on a cost per click level.

Why create an unpublished dark post on Facebook?

There are many benefits to utilising unpublished dark posts on Facebook. Below we have outlined some of the key reasons why they are worth experimenting with.

Gain access to users’ news feeds

As we previously mentioned, the news feed is the most engaging part of Facebook on both desktop and mobile. It is where users spend the most time, scrolling through never-ending status updates, events, photos and the alike. Although the majority of Facebook ads are delivered to the right hand sidebar, unpublished post ads can be delivered straight to users’ news feeds. This provides you with a great opportunity to engage with users and encourage them to fulfill the call to action.

A blend between content and advertisements

Unpublished dark posts offer the perfect balance between content and advertisements by combining traditional engagement marketing with the reach of paid advertising. Advertisers have a number of different options when it comes to creating unpublished page post ads. They can create a status update, a photo, a video, a question or even a shared link. Embedding links to external websites provide the perfect way for brands to direct traffic from Facebook to their own website.

Advertisers can use unpublished dark posts on Facebook to facilitate split testing. By creating two or more versions of the same advert, they can test them to see which audiences engage with the most.

Testing content

One of the main benefits of unpublished dark posts is that they allow advertisers to carry out content testing. Before ‘dark posts’ existed, if brands wanted to test post content, they would have to publish it on their Facebook page and as you can imagine, many were reluctant to do this after spending months building up their fan base. Thanks to the unpublished posts feature, advertisers can now test different content for their page post ads without bombarding their fans with multiple posts.

It is not just text based content that can be tested but ads, images and videos too. The fact you do not have to publish the content to your Facebook business page means that you can be a little more adventurous with your posting. You could even use colloquial language and regional words to engage with specific audience groups.

A/B testing tips

The best way to carry out A/B testing using Facebook dark posts is to create two or more versions of your advertisement and promote it to a small target audience. You can then determine which advertisement is more effective by the number of people clicking through and engaging with the ads. Once you have determined the best ad, you can then use it for a bigger audience.

Improved control

Unpublished posts give advertisers complete control over who sees what content, allowing you
to create posts for the sole purpose of promotion, without them having to show up on your page. Facebook allows advertisers to select the users they want to target using a wide range of criteria like age, location and interests. The great thing about having the option to use unpublished posts is that advertisers can show content to some users and not others. For example, they could show one version of their ad to new users that they want to ‘like’ their page and a different ad to existing fans whom they want to engage with.

They could also set up promotional offers that they could advertise to some users and not others. For example if a takeaway pizza company was only offering a discount at one of its franchises, they could use unpublished dark posts on Facebook to ensure that only people living in the surrounding area received the promotional message.

Unpublished dark posts allow advertisers to target specific audience groups with their content. This can be useful if they want to promote a certain deal with users located in a specific geographical location or if they want to test content on a certain type of person.

Targeting users

Unpublished posts do not have the same limitations as ‘targeted posts.’ Whereas targeted posts could only be defined by location, language, gender, age, relationship status, education status and gender interested in, unpublished posts allow users to segment their audience in many different ways including by the things they are interested in. This allows advertisers to target their ads more effectively and ensure they are only spending money on adverts that are reaching the intended audience.

Increasing reach

Unpublished dark Facebook posts can prove to offer an excellent return on investment by increasing the reach of your content. Not only can you capitalise on users who are already ‘fans’ of your page and therefore know they are in the market for your product or service, but you
can also capitalise on people who do not know they are in the market for your product or service and convert them into ‘fans.’

If you are looking for an effective way to increase the reach of your Facebook advertising content, try creating unpublished dark posts. Not only can you target existing fans of your Facebook page, but non-fans too.

Things to keep in mind

Whilst unpublished dark posts are great for testing content, it is important not to get too carried away. Even though your content will not be published on your page, it is still essential that the message it delivers is true to your brand or you risk alienating your audience.


Unpublished posts have the potential to extend your reach beyond anything you have ever managed before on Facebook. Not only can you advertise to existing fans of your Facebook page, but non-fans too. Out of all of the benefits unpublished dark posts have to offer, the opportunity for split testing is probably the best of them all. Using this feature you can test different content without bombarding your current fans and causing them to unlike your page.

If you haven’t already, we suggest creating and utilising unpublished posts several times a week, trialing new content and new audiences to see what works for you. When it comes to creating unpublished posts, the hardest thing will be locating it within the Facebook interface, so be sure to read through our ‘how to’ steps a second time until you get the gist of things.
Once you have created a couple of unpublished posts, you will find the process easy as pie to complete.

For more information about unpublished dark posts on Facebook or for assistance in creating effective campaigns, feel free to get in contact with a member of our team.

Garry Pickles Garry Pickles (143 Posts)

Internet marketing consultant at Online Media. Adwords Professional, SEO consultant and digital coach.

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