Over the past few months, Facebook have opened up the option to advertise using unpublished page posts. As the name suggests, these are essentially promoted page posts that can be advertised without appearing on a page’s timeline – or in the newsfeeds of the page’s fans.
While it may seem counterintuitive to create page posts that aren’t seen by your page’s fans, it actually opens up a lot of opportunity to split test your Facebook Ad campaigns, and run highly targeted Facebook ad campaigns without annoying your existing fans with lots of promotional ads.
With unpublished page posts, you could simultaneously run 30 different promoted page posts in a single day, each with unique targeting. While there was nothing technically stopping you from doing this before, it would very likely to annoy your existing fans and cause them to unlike, or report the page for spam.
One topic that comes up repeatedly when I speak to heavy Facebook advertisers is how to balance your promotional content with non-promotional content. Unpublished page posts finally makes this issue largely irrelevant, as you can be seen to be posting nothing but non-promotional content to your fans, while running your ads independently from your page’s timeline.
Technically, unpublished ads have been around since June 2012, although only for right-hand sidebar ads. Unpublished page posts first launched in March 2013 via Facebook’s API and have since been gradually rolled out via the power editor, and in some countries on the page itself.
In the UK, to set up a promoted page post you still need to use the power editor or a third-party Facebook advertising tool that connects with the API. When creating an ad, there is a small bit of text under the ad destination drop down that says “Create New Unpublished Post”, as shown below.
When you click on this you’ll be able to create a page post, just as if you were creating it from the page itself.
Despite not appearing on your page’s timeline, unpublished updates will still receive likes and comments as usual. To view the engagement that your post has received, you’ll need to login to your advertising account and click ‘view post within Facebook’. If you create a photo or video update, the photo or video will appear in your photo album, but not on your timeline.
While you can never please everyone, unpublished posts seem to have gone down very well with advertisers. Split testing has always been an issue when it comes to advertising on Facebook, and with improved targeting, conversion tracking, and now this, it’s certainly becoming a bit easier.
My only reservation is how this affects the user, and whether advertisers might abuse it. As there is technically no limit on the number of ads that page owners can now run, I’m not certain whether this will result in an uplift in the number of ads we’ll see on Facebook, or whether it will actually improve the ads we see by making them more targeted.