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Utilizing the Dark Side of the Internet

dark posts

If you’re not in the marketing and/or digital world you might not be aware of these things called dark posts. It’s understandable, though, that brands don’t need all of their followers to see all of the content they create for social media, right? Certain pieces of content will inevitably be more appropriate for certain sectors of companies’ target audiences than other. That’s what “dark posts” are – targeted content meant for certain people.

This popular marketing tactic first came about when Facebook developed “unpublished posts” (aka “dark posts”) as part of the targeting capabilities on their platform. It’s a great way for online publishers to tailor different messages to certain segments of their audiences.


Where do dark posts appear?

Advertisers and brands use dark posts to target different products to different people on social media platforms like Facebook. Dark posts are most common on Facebook but certainly are doable on LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.  All promoted posts on Instagram and Snapchat are considered dark posts.

How are dark posts different than targeted posts?

Dark posts are not exactly the same as targeted posts, although they share traits. Both type of posts allow you to promote to a segment of your social media audience. However, targeted posts (on Facebook) only allow you to use parameters such as gender, education, and relationship status. Dark posts use keywords. And of course, dark posts publish without appearing on your page’s wall (whereas targeted posts do not).

Who is posting in the dark and why?

Dark posts are useful (for marketers). First and foremost, they allow for easier A/B testing. With dark posts, when testing different content strategies, you can do several trials without officially posting anything to your timeline! Sending out a few variations of a more general ad to different sectors will tell you which does best.

Dark posts help send ads directly to those who are more likely to act on them. You can create an ad with a very specific message  for an audience and ensure it will appear on their news feed or your timeline. You could target those who already have liked your page or new customers and target different products to different groups.

Posting in the dark stops you from over posting and filling your followers’ feeds with spam-y content. Not blasting everyone will, in the long run, build customer appreciation and decrease the number of unfollows.

But there are some drawbacks. They create blind spots; it’s impossible to see all of the social media content that a brand/company is publishing so basically there is no good way to get a complete sense of the marketing strategy. There is no sense of what budget companies are operating under and it’s frankly really difficult to fully understand what your competitor is doing. This is in sharp contradiction to the typically transparent internet.


Have I convinced you that dark posts are a killer tactic that need to be added to your marketing tool belt? For now, it’s a very useful and effective advertising technique so get out there and try your hand at using news feed-style ads that aren’t actually published on your brand’s page.

Welcome to the dark side! I’ll be exploring other dark topics soon so stay tuned.


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