How To Use Dark Posts on Facebook and LinkedIn to Increase Relevance

Social Media Marketing


As a social marketer you are often asked to support many different initiatives going on in your company or organization. Some initiatives could involve brand awareness; others could revolve around demand generation or promoting an event, and so on. Different initiatives also involve different goals. So how do you, as social marketer, manage all the broad initiatives without cluttering the company page and inundating your entire audience with irrelevant posts? My solution—dark posts!

Dark posts are ads that you can create and promote without publishing them on your company’s LinkedIn page or Facebook timeline.

Facebook and LinkedIn both offer this feature (although on LinkedIn it is called “Direct Sponsored Content”).

The Benefits of Using Dark Posts:

  • You can create dark posts for promoting a product or service to a specific targeted audience: You’re able to target an audience that you know will find that ad more relevant than when it is shared with a broader audience. You will also get better engagement on a post that is more targeted.
  • Dark posts enable you to adjust the messaging on your ad, based on the segment you are targeting: For example—your ad copy and image will be different if you are targeting an Enterprise audience as opposed to a SMB audience.
  • Dark posts are also great for local event promotions: If you are hosting an event in the Bay Area you probably do not want folks in New York to see those ads. In this case, you can sponsor a dark post and target the specific zip codes, or cities you are hosting the event in.
  • Dark posts are also a great way to A/B test:  You can test your headlines, images or targeting to optimize their click-through or conversion rates. Dark posts make testing a lot easier since you do not have to publish the same article or ad twice on your newsfeed or company updates.

Dark Posts In Action

Here is an example of an A/B test we recently ran on LinkedIn using dark posts. For the test, we changed the headline copy and kept the image as a control.

Dark Post Test Image

Here are the results:

Test A copy:

“What is the Next Big Thing in Marketing:

478 Mktg Execs Surveyed”

Test B copy:

“The Rise of the Marketer”

Test A got a .30% click through rate and Test B received a .21% CTR. In this case, we tested whether adding in more details on the headline worked in our favor, and contrary to best practice, it did.

At Marketo we frequently use dark posts because of the many benefits mentioned above. We have had some good wins from the tests and targeted messages we have sent using dark posts over the last few months.

I would encourage all of you to use this feature in your social campaigns. If you are currently using this feature to do more, I would love to hear from you. Please share your tips in the comments below.

For more tips on social marketing, checkout our updated Cheatsheets for the Social Marketer on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.