Unpublished posts: The dark horse of social media advertising
Claire O’Dowd – Social Media Manager
The terms ‘native advertising’ and ‘sponsored content’ have dominated digital media over the past year. Adopted quickly by brands, it was only a matter of time before social heavyweights found a way to make ‘sponsored posts’ even more alluring.
Most brands use the power of social media to strengthen their advertising efforts and increase their reach – the introduction of unpublished posts and direct sponsored posts has now made social media advertising more effective than ever.
Facebook and, more recently, LinkedIn have quietly released into their offering unpublished or direct sponsored posts, which have become a great tool for advertisers to reach out to not only a wider audience, but one that can be targeted and segmented more precisely to maximise content impact.
Unpublished or direct sponsored posts are not new, having been around for some time in the form of short form ads shown on the right-hand side of a user’s screen. However, the ability to post them straight into a user’s feed is new, and is a useful tactic that places content on the ‘front page’ of the audience’s social feeds.
What are unpublished posts?
Unpublished posts, or dark posts, allow brands control over who sees what content – without having the message show up on a company timeline or page. It is essentially a page post that is boosted through paid promotion – but shown only to a specified audience.
How do unpublished or direct posts work?
Created through the social media platform’s advertising tools, these ‘dark posts’ can be in the form of a link, image or video (LinkedIn currently only allows link based sponsored posts), and combine the engagement of a traditional organic post with the reach of paid advertising – being placed directly into your audience’s newsfeed.
What are the benefits of unpublished posts?
Unpublished posts are inserted directly into the newsfeed of your customer. While there is some scepticism around the blurring of the visible lines between advertising and editorial – it cannot be argued that a known environment like a social newsfeed is an incredibly effective platform to deliver relevant content. With the ability to provide tailored content, based on your target audience’s interests, profession, demographics or consumption habits – you are able to ensure your brand is considered more relevant than ever.
More freedom to test your content
The biggest advantage of this feature is undoubtedly the ability to test posts to optimise engagement. Because posts are produced for specific audiences (based on age, gender, location, interests, etc.), many variations of an ad can be created and targeted towards different segments. As a brand, you can then determine the most engaging message and maximise its impact.
For example, this allow you to:
- Reuse posts at targeted times
- Tailor the message around your content to different audiences
Unpublished posts not only allow you to be more targeted with your content, reaching your intended audience more effectively, they also provide the ability for approved key internal stakeholders to manage and test for their own audience – without any impact on the ‘company page’. The more closely aligned your subject is with the interests of your customer, the more you will build trust as a thought leader in your chosen area. It also helps to reduce waste as you are only paying for engagement from your targeted segment.
Tips for brands
Unpublished posts are great for testing content, but don’t get carried away with creating too many of them. It’s important that your message stays true to your brand’s overall voice. Do too much and you risk losing fans.
Overexposure of the same content can also see the audience start to overlook your brand on their feed, so creating new and relevant content is vital. It is also valuable to trial new content, but over a period of time so as not to bombard users with
Unpublished posts have the potential to extend your brand reach immensely. The testing of ad content has become easier with the power to segment at a more detailed level, allowing brands to trial ads on a smaller budget and use analytics to determine those with the greatest ROI. Current fans won’t be bombarded with potentially off target posts, and potential new fans get to see the best quality content on your timeline.
If you would like to find out more about how paid media and native advertising can help grow your business, get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Claire O’Dowd – Social Media Manager