Facebook's “Unpublished Posts”: Uses and Benefits for Businesses

24 June 2013

Marketers and pay-per-click (PPC) ad managers have always recommended that promotional campaigns are scrupulously tested to get the best results. Split testing, also known as A-B testing, is a particularly useful technique that is commonly used, where different variations of an advertisement are displayed to different web users and the metrics are measured and calculated in order to optimise the ad. In this way, they can work out which forms of the advertisement yield the best results for the advertiser. This might be in the form of high conversions, increased site visitors or a boost in social media engagement.

Landing pages, PPC ads and email marketing are just some of the many ways that marketers use split testing. With Facebook promoted posts, however, this has been difficult. This is because in order to display different posts to different demographics or client groups, business pages have had to share numerous posts, all of which appeared on their news feed. Because of this, anybody looking at their page might see the same post, optimised in two, three or more different ways, and perceive it to simply be repetitive. This is generally not very appealing to the customer, who might not “like” the page as a result.

To resolve this problem, Facebook introduced “unpublished posts”. Also known as “dark posts”, they offer business owners the opportunity to produce numerous different posts with different images, wording, timing and so on, each being displayed to segmented groups, none of which have to show up in their Page's timeline or in their fans' news feeds. Multiple posts do not have to be created and shared, and updates which will only interest a certain proportion of a Page's fans can be limited to those people alone.

Businesses and marketers can also use the unpublished posts feature to test out the popularity or otherwise of a new advertising campaign, an innovative product or a new approach to their marketing.

This tool launched reasonably quietly, and Facebook has not made it especially easy to find. But for users who want to take advantage of unpublished posts, you simply go to your business page and input an update as usual.

After that, rather than selecting “Post”, you click on the clock symbol below and choose the year from a drop down menu. At this stage, a check box to “hide from news feed” appears, and selecting this box will keep your post away from your timeline and your followers' feeds. From here you have the ability to create Page Post Ads and Promoted Posts to advertise your brand with this more targeted approach.

Until recently, this ability to create unpublished posts was only available within the Power Editor interface, from where it can still be implemented. The unpublished posts will still be accessible to be selected for promotion but will be unpublished on your own timeline, reducing clutter and keeping your promoted updates relevant to the audience that sees them.