Influencer dark posts are targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram that don’t appear on an influencer’s timeline, page, or stories. They will not show up in the news feeds of your influencers’ followers (unless you specifically target that audience in an ad set - more on this later). The beauty of this is you can create several variants without asking your influencers to clutter their news feed.
It is worth noting that dark posts are possible across various social media platforms from Twitter to LinkedIn. This article will focus on Facebook and Instagram dark posts, and walk through how they can strengthen your influencer marketing and overall paid social media marketing results. Once you have a handle on what Facebook and Instagram dark posts are we recommend reading - How to drive sales and RoaS with influencer dark posts.
Dark posts are also known by Facebook and Instagram as unpublished page posts and show up as Facebook ads (sponsored content) in the feeds of users targeted via Facebook ads manager. Dark posts are ads, and must adhere to FTC guidelines regarding disclosures. Because of this, it’s not necessary to include hashtags or text calling out the paid partnership.
Influencer dark posts allow brands to optimize influencer content across target audiences. What this really means is that advertisers no longer have to rely on organic posts to deliver results. Advertisers can reuse and adjust influencer content to appeal to different audiences. For example: advertisers can customize posts to call out specific cities and create several variants across different ad sets set up to geo-target each city. A solid strategy for using dark posts: gather content from multiple influencers. When combined in the same ad set, this gives targeted audiences the sense that your brand is everywhere, and reinforces brand recognition. By combining all influencers, you don't need to guess how much to spend to "boost" each post, and instead optimize your ad spend across ad campaigns.
As seen in the images below, quip used this approach to target three different types of consumers:
In a nutshell, dark posts allow a performance marketer to follow Facebook advertising best practices to optimize ad performance. In other words, you are able to apply the same strategy of optimizing and a/b testing brand ads to influencer marketing content. Gone are the days of relying on organic content to drive sales.
At a high level, dark posts go beyond Instagram’s branded content tool by allowing performance marketers to make edits to content and target influencer based audiences. A/B testing and split testing, especially upfront, is critical to understand what content drives the best ad performance. One example is testing single images versus slideshows and carousel posts. Another example is modifying the CTA to test what resonates with your audience, ultimately driving better results.
To create a Facebook or Instagram dark post in Facebook ads manager (aka an unpublished post), go into ads manager and follow these instructions. In order to create an influencer dark post, the influencer will need to grant advertising permissions from their Facebook page and Instagram account to the brand's business manager. Once permissions have been assigned, the brand can select the influencer identity from the identity drop-down to create Instagram or Facebook ads.
Step 1: See the identity section in Facebook ads manager below? This is where you’ll select the identity the ad comes from, i.e. which influencer account you want the ad delivered from. You probably want to make sure you create influencer Instagram dark posts as more creators have a stronger IG presence.
Facebook ads manager gives you the option to use an existing post or create an ad. If you select an existing post you will not be able to edit the post (but it will pull in the existing likes & comments), and it’s NOT a dark post. To continue creating the dark post, you can upload your own image(s), or select from images that have been posted by the influencer. With that being said, images for slide shows and carousels will need to be uploaded manually (as of this writing, they will not pull into the asset library.) See Facebook’s options to access image assets directly from the influencer’s Instagram or Facebook accounts below:
The power of this approach is that you can leverage influencer identities and assets to create unpublished page posts and include them in any ad set in your Facebook ads manager. Social proof (likes, comments, shares) will start to accumulate on a dark post, which will often times help increase future engagement and lead to lower CPC and CPA. If social proof is important, you’ll want to use dark posts across ad sets, and stay away from creating new ads or different audiences.
Dark posts appear like any other post in an Instagram or Facebook user’s newsfeed. Since they come from real, impressionable people, dark posts typically pick up likes, comments, and shares. This "social proof" is part of what makes influencer ads a powerful tool in your digital marketing strategy. Often, prospects will ask questions about the products they see in their feed. This is a great opportunity for brands to engage, and inform not only the commenter, but also future potential customers on the product. If someone starts reading through the comments on your dark post, it’s a great indication that they’re interested. Comments can move social media users from being on the fence to purchasing customers.
In the images posted below, @terrimchugh promotes sunglasses for Kate Spade through a dark post. Note how she engages with her followers through comments, and even promotes the same sunglasses in brown (since the black ones she’s wearing sold out).
Unlike dark posts coming from a brand's Facebook page, comments on influencer dark posts cannot be managed via ads manager (unless you have admin access to your influencer's Facebook pages, but that is unlikely). If comment moderation is important, include this as a requirement when working with influencers (at least for the first couple of weeks you are running the dark posts).
To conclude, dark posts give your brand the opportunity to reach hyper-targeted audiences of social media “scrollers” with engaging authentic content. Dark posts also give performance media buyers the power to test variants in copy, call to action buttons, and net new audiences, effectively providing a new channel to drive acquisitions. Not only can you avoid ad fatigue with dark posts, you can reach your audience through different voices and drive consideration and purchase through frequency. Implementing dark posts into your influencer marketing campaigns is a great strategy for leaving a lasting impression on potential customers, and more importantly, converting them into buyers.
Recommended reading: How to Drive Sales and RoaS with Influencer Dark Posts