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Utilize Facebook’s Unpublished Posts to Increase Social Proof

Published: October 5, 2016

Author: Evan Routzong

Have you ever used Yelp to find the best food in town or checked Rotten Tomatoes for a movie review before you decided what to see? When you shop online, do you read what others had to say about the product before you purchase? You probably rely on reviews and opinions of complete strangers more often than you realize. ‘Social Proof’ is the term keyed for this behavior, and it’s defined as “informational social influence: a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation”.
You might also find yourself relying on Social Proof when scrolling through your News Feed on Facebook – posts with plenty of likes, comments, and shares are more likely to grab your attention and evoke response. So, obviously in the digital marketing realm this is an intriguing concept – let’s look at how marketers can use what we call ‘Dark Posts’ in Facebook to bring their Social Proof to the next level.

Understanding Pros & Cons of Dark Posts

First let’s clarify what we mean by Dark Posts since the term sounds pretty mysterious. Dark Posts are essentially unpublished posts created through Facebook’s Publisher Tool and ultimately sent live as ads through either Power Editor or Ads Manager. They will show in the News Feed but will NOT show on your Timeline. So, what makes this so different from any other ad we create in Facebook (those don’t show on the timeline either)? Well, Dark Posts allow us to create multiple ad sets across different campaigns, all sourcing the same Post we created with the Publisher tool. This gives us the benefit of easily consolidating social engagement with our ad across multiple ad sets and campaigns.
Below is a quick diagram to illustrate how Dark Posts allow us to aggregate likes, comments, shares, views, etc., effectively lifting our Social Proof, while standard ad structure accrues engagement separately:
social proof dark posts
Suppose each of your ad sets generated Likes, Comments, Shares, Views, etc. – since each ad set feeds from a single Dark Post, all of that social engagement will be consolidated and your relevance score should improve based on increased positive social engagement (Facebook considers Likes, Shares, Comments all as ‘positive engagement’). On the other hand, if you were utilizing standard ad structure, your ads would be accruing likes/comments/shares separately. Remember, more engagement means a higher Relevance Score and ultimately lower CPCs!
Facebook relevance score
So, are there any drawbacks to using Dark Posts in this structure instead of creating standard ads? The one thing you should be aware of is you’ll be unable to edit the Dark Post once it’s created. For any clients that like to go back and forth with edits even after they’ve been sent live, this can be slightly irritating since you’ll need to create an entirely new post. Aside from that, there aren’t many downsides to testing out this approach. Let’s now look at how to get started.

Setting up Dark Posts in 2 Steps:

Step 1: Create the Dark Post (unpublished post) with the Publisher Tool

Within Ads Manager, go to the top drop-down and select ‘All Tools’ > ‘Page Posts’:
Facebook page posts
Then choose to “Create New Post”. There are options for different Post types: Link, Carousel, Photo, Video, Status, and Offer – I typically use the ‘Link’ option more often, as it allows you to include clickable buttons and links within your text while also including media such as a photo or video.
create FB post
After creating your Post, be sure to copy the Post ID – you’ll use this when creating your ads in the following steps.
copy post id

Step 2: Create Your Ad within Power Editor or Ads Manager

Within Power Editor (or Ads Manager), click to create a new ad. Then select the option to ‘Use Existing Post’. This is where you will enter your Post ID from the Dark Post you just created.
FB post id
Your ad should be available to preview once the ID is entered, so review all your targeting and messaging and send it live! Finally, be sure to use the same Post ID if you’re planning to send the same ad live across multiple ad sets.
Any comments on the pros and cons you’ve experience with Dark Posts? Leave a comment!

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