Facebook Advertising Strategy - To Boost or To Use Dark Posts
Many a times, marketers face the dilemma of when to click on the "Boost" button on their organic posts as seen in the screenshot below and when to invest in the full-fledged dark post methodology. It is not uncommon to see brands boosting every single post by default with a fixed pre-allocated budget. This may work in some instances in meeting your KPIs but is usually not the most efficient or effective way to conduct your FB advertising strategy.
An Overview of Boosted Versus Dark Posts
First of all, you may be wondering what exactly is a dark post? A dark post is an ad post that does not appear on your Fan page and thus is not likely to be seen organically.
An organic post is meant to be seen by your page fans while a dark post is intended for a larger audience which may or may not be intended to be targeted at your page fans. Taking into consideration that there is an intrinsic motivation on why a user "likes" or "follows" a FB page, it is important to factor this when crafting your organic strategy. If the creative, copy and other components of the strategy have been customized to the interests of your page fans, then it is crucial to invest at the very least a similar degree of effort in planning your dark post strategy to reach out to the rest of the world.
At the same time, it is important to note that some organic posts may be relevant to the rest of the world - for instance seasonal greetings. However, these "generic" posts should be kept to a minimum since they are not being fully customized to one particular group of people which could lead to mixed advertising performance. Always consider this - the rest of the world may neither have a strong motivation nor similar inclinations as your page fans and followers. As such, it is an imperative to customize the ads to specific groups of target audiences so as to ensure they resonate with your brand, messaging and CTAs.
Personally, I believe in boosting of an organic post to target your organic page fans to compensate for declining organic reach while dark posts should be about targeting the rest of the world to get new fans and prospects. While certain content may allow for both approaches, there should be a strong rationale for choosing between boosting posts and creating dark posts depending on the circumstances.
Scenarios where you may consider boosting organic posts
- Seasonal or holiday campaigns such as messages wishing seasoned greetings or details on redeeming in-store discounts where the messaging may apply to both page fans and the rest of the world
- Time sensitive campaigns such as generating maximum awareness or sales for an upcoming event (e.g. concerts, new product launches
- Posts that are significantly under-performing your historical organic engagement rates
- Posts that are significantly outperforming your historical organic engagement rates
Scenarios where you may consider creating dark posts
- There is a need for advanced targeting capabilities. For instance, the business goal is to reach new audiences who are neither customers nor have been reached by any of the brand's Facebook ads. This can be done by including new users who share similar characteristics as existing audiences and excluding engaged users and customers via the creation and application of custom and lookalikes audiences. Ultimately, you would be able to do so much more in terms of ad targeting for dark posts as compared to boosting posts where you are limited to modifying only the interests, age and gender.
- There is a highly specific performance goal. For example, boosted posts allow you to focus on page engagements including link clicks whereas dark post creation via Ads Manager lets you choose more granular objectives like store traffic, conversions, and lead generation.
- There is a strong need to maintain creative control. For instance, through Ads Manager, you can design the dark post that fits your goals such as creating carousel ads, adding specific descriptions and add a call-to-action button that will drive more of your target audience to take action. These are the creative and formatting options available for dark post creation that are unavailable for boost posts
It is important to embrace the importance of a phased approach where your Facebook strategy has been segmented into Awareness, Consideration and Conversion phases.
Adopt a sequential storytelling methodology in taking your audiences through these stages in the marketing funnel and devise a hybrid strategy grounded on strong rationales for either post boosting and/or dark posting. In other words, be rigorously selective in deciding which posts to boost and which content to run as dark posts.
The key is to understand and establish what you are hoping to achieve with each paid content in terms of business and platform goals before determining when and what to boost or to run as dark posts.