The adage ‘change is the only constant’ holds particularly true on social media. Online algorithms are constantly evolving, and digital marketers are forced to be more nuanced and adaptable in their approach. Almost every platform has room for brands to navigate strategically when it comes to influencer marketing. One such measure is dark posting. These are an innovation in terms of content distribution that makes such posts unique. Dark posts are a stealth form of content marketing that enables brands to drive engagement and boost sales. In this blog, we’ll look at what dark posts are and how they work to boost influencer marketing campaigns.
What Is Dark Posting On Social Media?
Dark posts are very specific types of ads that appear on the newsfeed of the audience and followers but do not appear as organic content on the timeline of either the brand or the influencer. Most ads online, normally, stay as regular organic posts on the account’s timeline, whereas dark posts do not. If a viewer sees the ad on their feed, they will not be able to find it again by going back to the timeline of the brand or the influencer.
The key point – these ads do not appear for followers. These are specifically for non-followers who fall under the target audience chosen during the ad setup. Therefore it is clear that dark posts are primarily created to attract new followers.
While dark posts are a great way to leverage influencer relationships, it is vital to understand how modern-day influencers got as powerful as they are!
How Does It Work?
Not appearing on the timeline of the account posting the dark post helps demarcate these ads from the general content being created. This allows brands to take certain risks with their content, as it doesn’t impact the overall tone or aesthetic of the page. As the brand posting selects ‘audiences’ newsfeed’, they seem more organic despite being sponsored posts. These are created by choosing the “only use this post for an ad” option. When it comes to posting these ads from an influencer’s account, these are called Whitelisting campaigns. In these campaigns, the influencer gives the brand various permissions to their account. This isn’t the entire account, but just advertising permissions. Hence the brand takes control, posts the content, and alters the communication accordingly. This gives the influencer the freedom to trust the brand with their account without worrying about the content showing up on their timeline. The ability to incorporate the brand-influencer dynamic as an ‘ad only’ is a win-win situation for all involved.
Origins Of Dark Posting
The concept of ‘unpublished ads’ is historically an option from Facebook. Over time, digital marketers have pushed for dark posting as a medium to experiment with ads without the worry of them staying on the timelines in perpetuity. With cookies and remarketing involved, dark posts go a long way in quelling the concerns of ads being omnipresent on social media. It also reduces the fatigue involved in constantly viewing sponsored ads for the audience. Dark posting is the previously non-existent middle ground between organic content and paid sponsorships in the most favorable scenario. It gives the audience the feel of an organic post but still provides the marketer with enough data to study metrics and perform A/B testing.
How Brands Use Dark Posts
Organic posts from an influencer, target the followers of the influencer as well as the brand tagged by the influencer. This includes whatever pre-existing overlap between the two. The hashtags help further this reach. These organic posts, though, never cast a net as wide as paid posts. Dark posting allows the ad to target a duplicated audience that is brand new! This means the ad reaches users who have never heard of the brand or influencer but have similar usage patterns to existing users.
While technically dark posts aren’t organic, they are the closest an ad can come to being organic. The upside of being an ad is that brands have greater control over the ad design and the target audience – demographics, geography, etc. They can also alter the caption from the influencer side and brand side. Dark posts can also involve multiple influencers in a single carousel post. This helps boost the value of the brand through a more targeted impact.
Lower Ad Spend
One way to keep your ad spend low is to repurpose influencer content constantly. Dark posting is a great way to do that! At the same time, content from an influencer has a greater reach and comes with clearly actionable metrics than content from a brand or agency. This combination of lower costs and higher reach guarantees a better ROI.
Influencer marketing can be approached through the prism of an agency for greater expertise and focus. Wondering how you could go about choosing an influencer marketing agency?
Audiences love engaging with posts coming from an influencer as compared to a brand. These dark posts allow the brand to reply to an influencer’s post as a third party. Hence these dark posts give brands the chance to attract new audiences for themselves and the brand.
Dark Posting Across Social Media
On Facebook, boosted posts and dark posts are the best option to promote your content as only a small percentage of organic posts, from influencers or brands, are ever seen on the news feeds of audiences. It is recommended to repurpose your best-performing organic influencer content as a boosted or dark post on Facebook.
The name of the game when it comes to influencer marketing is engagement. For your posts to perform optimally, you need to boost your engagement.
Instagram is where influencers flourish, and the content here should be a cohesive mix of organic, boosted, and dark posts. The promoted content should fit the narrative of the organic content, which should also correspond to your ads and dark posts. Instagram has the benefit of offering photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, or stories ads.
Twitter is one of the last remaining platforms where organic posts still gain massive traction. This doesn’t mean that dark posts work here – they need to be crafted appropriately. The quality of content needs to be high and needs to engage the community actively. Dark posts on Twitter garner less traction than other platforms.
LinkedIn allows users to interact with branded dark posts while brands benefit from content with potential followers without it getting added to the brand timeline. It lets the creators test different messaging and narrative styles creatively without spamming the audience. It also allows multiple stakeholders to test messages from the same account.
Brands can take a leaf out of influencers’ books to identify how exactly online influence can be monetized.
How To Integrate Dark Posts Into Influencer Campaigns
Experiment With Headlines and CTAs
Dark posts allow the creator to constantly experiment with their narrative styles, particularly headlines and CTAs. Dark posts enable the users to make Instagram posts clickable with embedded UTM parameters for more effective tracking. The headline placements also vary with the platform – the headline appears in the Facebook feed but not Instagram.
Experiment With Content Formats
Dark posts do not guarantee results unless the content is on-point! This convenient ad format is just an extension of the marketing resources available online and gives brands the option to test how every image performs – both single and carousel.
Specific Partnerships For Dark Posts
Instead of using the same influencers from previous collaborations, it is worth trying partnerships specific to these dark posts. A traditional influencer is unlikely to share as many posts about your brand as you can through dark posts. They help lure new audiences in and enhance the experience for audiences who have seen the content organically. These dark posts are great for the user experience of your target audience through content and influencer collaboration. New and fresh content improves audiences’ reactions online and helps generate social proof to fine-tune subsequent campaigns.
The most effective marketers in the world aren’t afraid to experiment with new marketing techniques and observe the results. Dark posts are one such way to generate buzz with audiences and gain valuable insights. It lets brands try out new influencer integration strategies that do not clutter the newsfeed. Dark posts are great for brands looking to leverage their influencer relationships further, creating more flexibility and opportunities. By following the steps mentioned in this blog, brands can put their foot on the pedal and boost their engagement through dark posting.
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