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Shedding light on Facebook’s “dark posts” (the next big thing for biz?)

(TECH NEWS) Should your business be using Facebook’s dark posts? Wait, what’s a dark post??

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Enlighten me

We all want to feel connected, that we’re part of a brand bigger than ourselves. And we want the brands we support to have a similar feeling towards us. That’s part of the motivation for some retailers, who have switched their business models to better reflect how we shop and how they reach us in the first place.

Since Facebook ads are a seemingly ubiquitous and seamless way to reach a customer base, many companies take to Facebook to engage with their audiences. That’s nothing new. However, what is a growing trend is the number of companies investing their Facebook and LinkedIn ad dollars to “dark posts”. But what are they?

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Think about ads for select demographics: whether a post with a status update, a video or photo, or a link to another spot. But these posts are only seen by their intended targets as an advertisement in their NewsFeed. They’re not seen on the brand’s Facebook timeline, allowing companies to try out new advertising concepts without pestering all of their followers with seemingly disjointed approaches.

Does your business need dark posts?

For companies, there are several advantages. For starters, you can hone advertising efforts to specific bands of potential customers without being visible to the world at large.

More importantly, companies can test message content without resorting to spam or looking desperate by over saturating those interested in your brand. This reduces the risk of potential customers unliking your page or blocking your ad.

Everyone wants to ensure dollars devoted to advertisement provide the biggest return on investment possible. Dark posts (or unpublished posts, as they’re sometimes known) allow brands to adjust their headlines and identify more effective times of publication and calls for customer response. This level of deployment customization allows companies to determine different levels of efficacy and utilize what works best. Companies can (and should) do so for each customer band that they’re after.

Strategizing statistics

By targeting ads to customer-specific traits, tendencies, or behaviors, brands hope to increase customer engagement. It’s important to understand the appropriate strategy for their use. TrackMaven’s research into the different reaches of dark posts versus boosted posts on Facebook provides some insight.

They identified that boosted posts received slightly more interaction overall, but dark posts were more successful in generating page likes for the business. Dark posts are also deployed for longer lifespans. Firms use dark posts for an average of 42 days versus 27 for boosted posts.

Things to avoid

No one wants to feel like a company is stalking them online. Target the ad too closely to the demographics or the customer behaviors, and the super-cute approach that’s meant to persuade engagement feels creepy. Going further in an attempt to engage users by name risks not only a loss of engagement, but a full disavowal of the brand and your products.

Also, it’s important to be specific, but not exclusionary. Facebook’s recent change allowing advertisers to create targeted ads addressing a user’s preferred (and self-reported) “ethnic affinity” has been controversial. Their advertising algorithms allowed marketers to exclude potential customers by ethnic affinity. A smart business strategy would be to ensure targeted posts reach the intended audience without being too exclusive.

Ethical concerns

Facebook is taking steps to ensure their approaches to advertising provide marketers with a wide variety of search options while remaining within the law. Responding this week to concerns, Facebook stated those ethnic affinity tools would no longer be available for marketers placing credit, employment, or housing ads.

“There are many nondiscriminatory uses of our ethnic affinity solution in these areas, but we have decided that we can best guard against discrimination by suspending these types of ads,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, wrote in a recent blog post on the topic.

Marketers outside these three areas can still utilize ethnic affinity as one of their targeting features for creating dark posts, however. Egan also added that Facebook’s new advertising guidelines would “require advertisers to affirm that they will not engage in discriminatory advertising” on the site.

Takeaway

If used correctly, brands can create a whole host of advertisements that allow customers to feel a part of the brand and do so in an organic fashion, remaining true to your overall branding strategy, one segment at a time.

#darkposts

Roger is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

Tech News

Beautiful new wellness app takes a more holistic approach

(TECHNOLOGY) Using tech to help with wellness is nothing new, but this app takes a more holistic approach to help you balance.

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There are thousands of health and fitness apps in various marketplaces, so what distinguishes between them is often a matter of personal taste. Much like the variety of organizational apps, I find that picking a wellness app involves much the same process – what works for you? What do you need? What are your wellness goals? And so on.

I spent a few days with the new wellness app, Wellbody, and I will say I am fifty/fifty. I love the approach and philosophy of Wellbody. Take a look at their fundamental tenants:

  • We believe in progress over perfection
  • We believe in small, simple, and sustainable behavior change
  • We believe that with mindful practice, people can do amazing things
  • We believe that real change starts with being mindful…and is maintained through creating healthy habits
  • We take a holistic view across the five major pillars of health: nutrition, exercise and movement, sleep, stress management, and connection
  • We believe everyone deserves access to better health and wellness
  • We want to help you live life well

As a person who is incredibly engaged in their own wellness and trying to figure out how to do that, I believe fully in this model. Holistic perspectives on health are important for anyone.

However, a holistic perspective may mean some people perceive this app as having a lack of focus. It is foundational, so it is not a workout plan, or calorie counter, etc. It’s primarily educational. And the content is actually good. The foundation series are well narrated, and I think it does a good job of level setting and providing information.

It does have a daily quote and a little daily experiment (which I think is a good add). The content library is growing, and the sessions outside of the foundational session are great (I loved the “Mindfulness vs. Meditation” piece)

However, there are a few challenges I have right away.

First, the sessions don’t have any good visuals, summaries, or much of anything else.

Also, the daily experiment has been rather vague. Yes, I understand that it is a mindfulness app, but the challenges are more pondering and less practice.

Most critically – without an internet connection you can’t listen to this. So if you are on a plane, or on a limited reception subway, or are away from Wi-Fi, you can’t listen to any of the content. That’s a glaring issue, and it is too easy to turn to other podcasts or apps who we can listen to the content without an active internet connection. It makes it harder to open this app everyday, which is important for the way it works.

I think Wellbody has the concept down – what’s missing is more content. There needs to be more specific content, maybe a journaling feature, etc. I would recommend this app for anyone who is starting a wellness journey, or maybe is re-evaluating what kinds of health changes they are trying to make. If you need a diet tracker, or exercise plan, this is going to be less helpful. However, if you are trying to change the way we look at wellness, this is a great place to start.

Side Note: I love the visual design of this app, which is a weird cross between Zen and an episode of Fixer Upper (I love all of the designs at Target, y’all).

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Tech News

What’s TikTok, why’s it so huge, and why is Facebook scared of it?

(TECH) TikTok has taken the internet by storm – you’ve probably seen the videos floating around, so here’s the context your business needs to know.

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Jimmy Fallon challenged his viewers to his version of a #sharpiechallenge. That’s where you toss a sharpie into the air, catch it, take the cap off and draw a mustache on yourself with it. He requested that viewers use TikTok to record it and upload it.

As of this writing, the hashtag boasts 8.2 million views in TikTok alone – if it wasn’t big before it gained Fallon as a fan, it is now.

What Is TikTok?

The TikTok app is the brainchild of Bytedance, a Chinese company that once owned Muscal.ly, and it launched in September 2016 as Douyin (it’s Chinese moniker). When it launched internationally, a year later, they branded the social media app TikTok. When Musical.ly shut down, users had to switch.

The app lets users view, create and share 15-second videos (kind of like Vine, RIP). It’s estimated that there are over 500 million users worldwide. The app has been highly ranked in the charts for number of downloads over the past few months, with a spike when Fallon had his first challenge, #tumbleweedchallenge. (For the record, Fallon and The Tonight Show do not have a business relationship with Bytedance.)

Users can lip-sync, do duets, record a reactions video and has some excellent tech in the app for video editing. Users can comment on videos and create video memes. It’s pretty fascinating. And wildly appealing to the masses.

One of the best things about TikTok is that the app doesn’t have advertising or monetization capabilities, even though it has a broad audience. With an estimated 500 million users, it’s just a matter of time.

Facebook launches a TikTok-clone.

Facebook doesn’t want to be late to the game. In classic follower fashion, they have launched their own short-video app, Lasso.

I played with both apps, and Lasso just doesn’t have comparable content.

What Facebook does have is its user base. By integrating with Facebook itself, Lasso may outdo TikTok eventually, but it will need to increase its capabilities.

Why should your business take notice?

Small businesses should be aware of these apps. Online videos are driving social media engagement. Content is king, and you’ve been reading here for years that video is a powerful component of any social media strategy.

TikTok and Lasso give you video-making and video-sharing tools that could increase your online presence.

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Tech News

Hardware tokens are what folks serious about avoiding hackers use

(TECH) Hardware tokens have been around for a while, but people most serious about avoiding hackers swear by them.

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How many passwords do you have? How many sites do you use each of your passwords for? Information Today research estimates over half of all adults have five or more unique passwords, while one in three adults have 10 or more unique passwords that have to be remembered.

This particular study was from 2012. I’d wager that most of us use many more passwords today than we did just six years ago. With the risk of your accounts being hacked increasing, you might be wary – you might not even trust an online password manager.

If you struggle with remembering all of your passwords and want to make sure you are managing passwords and protecting your accounts, you might want to consider a hardware token.

What is a hardware token?

This piece of hardware is a physical device, similar to a USB drive, that lets you gain access to an electronically restricted resource. It’s actually a simple two-factor authentication source.

Once your account is set up to accept the hardware token, you log in to the account with your user ID and password. You’ll be asked to insert the hardware token into the device, which gives you access to your account. It’s another layer of protection and authentication.

Hardware tokens have been on the market since 2002. Although many use the USB port on your device, Bluetooth tokens and smart cards are other types of hardware tokens. Setting up a hardware token is fairly easy. You can use your hardware token with most websites that have two-factor authorization.

The challenges with hardware tokens is that they are very easy to lose and can easily be stolen. That’s a pretty significant downside.

The YubiKey, one of the current offerings on the market, costs about $50. It could be expensive to have a hardware token for everyone in your organization. Google Titan, another brand of hardware key, costs about the same.

Some argue that not everyone needs this much security, but those people probably have never been hacked. If it protects your accounts, it might be worth taking a look.

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