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What are Dark Posts on Social Media?

social media

We’re here to shine the light on dark posts

You’ve heard of the “dark web,” and all its scary content. But have you heard of the term “dark post” buzzing around your favorite social media blogs?

If not, we’re sorry to tell you that you may not be as socially savvy as you thought. But don’t worry, we’re here to turn the light on. So, what is a dark post? Poorly lit Instagram pictures? Selfies with your favorite villains?

social media

Not exactly. The truth behind a dark post is much more candid.

Targeted ads on social media are dark posts. If you didn’t know the meaning of term before, are you smacking the top of your head right now? But don’t confuse a targeted ad with boosted ads. Unlike promoted and organic posts, dark posts don’t appear on your timelines. They also won’t be in your feed of your followers.

Instead, they appear as sponsored content in the feeds of users you’re specifically targeting. Dark posts are not published the same way as organic posts. They are formally addressed on Facebook as unpublished posts.  They are not officially on your page. Effectually, the only exist for the targeted users that see them.

You might be puffing your chest out a little now because you think we are talking about dark social— sorry, still wrong. That’s actually totally unrelated.

Dark social refers to your website traffic pulled from social media, and isn’t picked up by analytics tools. Dark post, however, are simply social media ads that don’t show up on your timeline.

And although Facebook is, as per usual, the founding father of this concept, dark posts exist on all major social media platforms.

When advertising on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn, you have the option to boost an organic post or create a dark post. By default, Snapchat and Instagram ads are considered dark posts.

So why should you come to dark side? Well as the Emperor told Anakin, ”The dark side of [posting on social media] is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be [really beneficial].”

It’s 2018, and with all the digital advertising solutions available today, you’re probably wondering if creating dark posts is even worth it.

You’re wondering stops here. Dark posts offer numerous advantages over traditional social media ads. We pulled three great reasons from this article to tell you why:

Precise Targeting

Traditional or “published” social media ads let you reach your target audience in a general awareness. For example, targeted posts on Facebook can reach users based off age, gender, or areas of interest.

A dark post is a whole new ball game of precision.  You can target users based on those same demographics, but now you can also target them with specific keywords like their exact job title.

At the end of the day, dark posts vs. boosted posts comes down to who sees what.

Dark posts allow you to focus different ads on different audiences, but you can also create custom ads for each targeted audience sector.

Imagine you’re a cosmetics brand. Traditional targeting can focus on 16-year-old high school girls in California or 25-year-old young professionals in New York.

A dark post lets you target both those groups with customized ads at the same time. And top it off, the high school teens and the young professionals each only see the ad that was specifically created for them.

It’s this kind of exact targeting that lets you reach precisely who you’re targeting, which then makes for a pretty great social media ROI.

Opens the options of testing

To really optimize your content both paid and organic, dark posts offers a plethora of testing options.

Your ad can appear differently to unlike users so that means you can use your dark posts to test which version of the ad gets more engagement, clicks, or conversions.

If you’re not aware of A/B testing, it’s an awesome way to improve your ads. Maybe you know this method as split testing instead. Either way, it allows you to present your consumers with two different versions of the ad to see which one outperforms the other.

Dark posts/unpublished posts on Facebook let you experiment with the image, headline, call-to-action button, or body copy of your ad. And then whichever one gets more engagement or conversion depending on what your KPIs are, you know which one is your front runner.

Help perfect other content

A/B or split testing helps optimize future dark posts based on the valuable feedback, and it can make your organic and boosted posts perform better too.

Being able to see which headline, image, or body copy is performing best for your dark post, you’re able to improve the posts that are actually showing up on your timeline.

For example: you want to publish a post to then boost it, but are unsure what headline to select to maximize clicks to your website.

You can set up two dark posts that are identical in every aspect except for the headline. Then, split test them against one another.

Two headlines walk in, one headline walks out. The headline with the higher CTR gets used as the published post. Now you can feel rest assured that you’re using the best possible version of your ad.

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Three Key Social Media Challenges Business Will Face This Year

We hear the word “trend,” and instantly it stirs up feelings of fear and uncertainty for our businesses. You want to stay ahead of the game, but you don’t want to waste precious time and/or money on something that is gone by next quarter. Or the latest and greatest isn’t particularly relevant to your business.

Rather than create a comprehensive list of the “Top Trends for Social Media in 2018,” we found through some research the three biggest challenges organizations will face this year.

1. Finding sufficient solutions to declining organic reach

Stop using short-term tactic that once got you the likes and clicks. It’s time to accept that you’re no longer going to make a big splash on social strictly organically.

Start building sustainable strategies. What does this mean? Be more selective when it comes to what networks you’re posting content on. Invest in more social ads and influencers (if applicable) to advocate for your brand.

2. The social video surge is quickly becoming a saturation

Money spent on social video advertising skyrocketed 130 percent in 2017 and has no sign of stopping.

Yes, videos on social media are effective,  but businesses need to make sure the content they’re creating is relevant to the business objectives or goals. If you can’t tie in any real metrics or measurable business value to the social video, it’s time to rethink the strategy.

3. Brands overloaded by new tools and tactics

Hootsuite made a great point when doing research that the common complaint of customers is the endless list of new tactics, tools, and content formats. It’s tiresome. We know.

This year, implementation and effective measurement of already in place strategies is more important than the intro to new tactics.

While social media networks continue to innovate and build new algorithms to reach audiences, marketers are under a lot of pressure to prove the existing social strategy merits continued investment from their clients. Future investments must have a demonstrable business impact beyond futile metrics.

If you’d like to glance over or read more in depth of what the actual social media trends are for 2018, download for free Hootsuite’s third annual social media trends report.

We’d be happy to help set you up for success through social strategy and implementation. To learn more about our social media capabilities, check out our digital page and content marketing bible.

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The New Facebook Algorithm Can Be Used For Evil…


The company’s CEO shifts to focus more on“time well spent” on the platform (even though few inside Facebook seem to know how to define that metric).

Part of our social media manager’s job is to rummage through the internet to find content we think is appealing, informative, or interesting to those that visit our site; A.K.A. content curation.

In case you haven’t heard, 2018 is the year of new algorithms. What does that mean? That everything you once new about Facebook posting and ad placement is getting turned upside down. It no longer about getting likes or views. Facebook wants to see “meaningful engagement.” But what exactly counts as meaningful engagement? Is that just shorthand for more comments over reactions?

We’ll continue to investigate the latest updates alongside other brilliant social media marketers and influencers. But in the meantime, this clever Buzzfeed author claims she’s cracked the code.

Read more on how she tortured her friends and colleagues by sharing a video she deemed cringe-worthy here.

And think about how time can be well spent on your posts going forward!

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Pun-Filled Valentine’s Day captions that will make your followers LOL in love

Let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day isn’t exactly in everyone’s top five of favorite holidays. But we can all agree it’s the perfect holiday to be cheesy. It’s a day filled with roses, giant teddy bears, heart-shaped foods, and timelines overloaded with images of couples hopelessly devoted to one another, (if you didn’t give up social media for Lent, of course).

It’s nice to have a day where everyone is celebrating love. Even if you’re one of those “anti-Valentine’s Day” celebrators, it still comes around every February 14th, so why not have a little fun with it? The internet has provided us with a plethora of cute baby animals, which we love. But one of the best things to happen to social media is the witty puns we post as captions— most of which are perfect for punny Valentine’s Day captions.

The cheesier and more random, the better. And a good, punny caption is nicer to read than a nauseating long paragraph on how you met your significant other.

We did our due diligence and scoured the internet for our favorite V-day puns to add to your Instas. It’s the extra special touch you need to get into the double digits of likes.

You have a pizza my heart. 🍕

The perfect excuse to have pizza as your special Valentine meal.

I like you a latte. ☕️

For when you and bae get coffee after your hot date.

You whisk me off me feet.

Perfect caption if you’re staying in to make a nice meal rather than be bothered by the public.

I knead you. 🐱

Cats make for the purrfect valentine if you’re flying solo this year!

If you were a triangle, you’d be acute one.

This can really go with any pic.

I wheely like you. 🚴

Best paired with a photo of that bike trip you took last summer.

Are you a pulmonary embolism? Because you take my breath away.

All you medical peeps will appreciate this one.

I sulfur when you argon.

This one took us a minute, but we’re sure all you science nerds will appreciate it!

You’re the one pho me. 🍜

Because if it’s not pizza, then we want an excuse for Asian cuisine take-out.

Posted in AppleSauce

Super Bowl ads make digital Advertising splash

Would we really be an ad agency if we didn’t discuss the commercial victors of Super Bowl LII? The options were anything but limited. For a full review, check out Ad Age’s break down.

Meanwhile, we will be showcasing the digital buzz surrounding the ads provided by the partnership of Ad Age and, a real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics for more than seven million smart TVs.

Below are a list of rankings that give particulare weight to earned online views and social impressions. iSpot’s data shows that Super Bowl ads generated more than 84 million views across Facebook and YouTube on game day alone; a bulk of that being nearly 51 million of the unpaid/earned views on YouTube. Engagement (including mentions and shares) with those ads also generated about 805.7 million social impressions during the big game.

Game Day Totals


TV Ad Impressions


Earned Online Views


Social Impressions






Show Promos

Top Ads by Digital Share of Voice

Excluding movie trailers & show promos

1 Doritos & Mountain Dew: Battle

17.26% Digital Share of Voice

Key Stats
TV Ad Impressions: 72,634,205
Earned Online Views: 1,143,039
Social Impressions: 78,315,883

2 Amazon Echo: Alexa Loses Her Voice

12.49% Digital Share of Voice

Key Stats
TV Ad Impressions: 81,225,165
Earned Online Views: 8,045,717
Social Impressions: 4,527,919

3 NFL: Touchdown Celebrations

 11.28% Digital Share of Voice

Key Stats
TV Ad Impressions: 69,280,322
Earned Online Views: 464,842
Social Impressions: 20,522,569

4 Pepsi: This Is the Pepsi

 8.09% Digital Share of Voice

Key Stats
TV Ad Impressions: 64,827,355
Earned Online Views: 3,932,985
Social Impressions: 5,639,978

5 Tide: It’s a Tide Ad

5.45% Digital Share of Voice
Key Stats
TV Ad Impressions: 67,198,290
Earned Online Views: 763,721
Social Impressions: 26,747,404
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The Truth Behind Groundhog’s Day

Phil is Phake News.

Punxsutawney, PA 6:00 A.M.— Tens of thousands of people are in a wooded hollow in north central Pennsylvania to watch a groundhog predict the weather— a feature not typically associated with large rodents. Getting into the spirit, we found an interesting Washington Post article that cites a 1985 academic journal article asking some appropriate Groundhog Day questions:

  1. “Why has such sentience been attributed to the groundhog?”
  2. “How did Punxsutawney come to identify itself with the groundhog?”
  3. “And what has this identification to do with local enterprise?”

As a PA resident, I wake up every year to watch this meteorological malarkey. And I must say, these questions never came to mind. As a child, it was an exciting day at school filled with coloring and songs. But as an adult, it’s more like WTF.

Anyways, let’s get through this hogwash together, shall we?

Why has such sentience been attributed to the groundhog?

Since the beginning of time humans ascribe weather prediction abilities to animals. Rats and snakes leave their homes to find safety before days before destructive earthquakes. Frogs get more annoying by croaking louder and longer when a storm is on the horizon. And “when sheep gather in a huddle, tomorrow there will be a puddle.”

Then we have groundhogs.

On February 2nd, the immortal Phil is yanked from his burrow by Mr. Monopoly looking men to make the forecast for the next six weeks. How? Via shadow, of course? Once it’s been decided if Phil has or has not seen it, his handlers hold him up high to announce whether spring is just around the corner, or if we are stuck in winter.

The historical article tries to clear this up:

The exceptional feature about the groundhog in this regard is that its meaningful behavior occurs on but a single day. Also anomalous is that groundhogs do not normally come out of hibernation until late March or April, although the formula calls for an early February awakening. One is tempted to conclude from these facts alone that we are dealing less with a natural sign in the case of the groundhog and more with a cultural symbol. Ultimately, we may not be dealing with the groundhog at all.

Moving on…

How did Punxsutawney come to identify itself with the groundhog?


This whole scheme apparently started with a freaking picnic.

The historical journal explains in the late 1800s in Pennsylvania…

… groundhogs were plentiful. They were shot at or trapped by farmers who saw them as pests, and by others practicing their marksmanship. The carcasses often ended up as food for dogs or scavengers. In the nineteenth century, however, some esoteric connoisseurs in the vicinity of Punxsutawney were serving groundhog to visitors as a special local dish. Dinner guests were reportedly pleased at how tender the marmot meat was when properly prepared, tasting like a cross between pork and chicken. Around 1889, groundhog meat was served at a banquet at the Punxsutawney Elks lodge. Several Elks and others then began gathering one day each year in late summer on Miller Stoops’s farm on Canoe Ridge south of town to capture and feast on groundhog. This group became the nucleus of the Groundhog Club, and was recognized as such at least by 1899 by some accounts.

Mmm. Next time you’re driving on the PA turnpike and see a groundhog completely mutilated on the side of the road, remember that it was once a delicacy.

And what has this identification to do with local enterprise?

Newspapers. Punxsutawney Phil is fake news created to sell newspapers.

The National Centers for Environmental Information tactfully explained it like this:

The trail of Phil’s history leads back to Clymer H. Freas, city editor of the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper. Inspired by a group of local groundhog hunters — whom he would dub the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club — Freas declared Phil as America’s official forecasting groundhog in 1887. As he continued to embellish the groundhog’s story year after year, other newspapers picked it up, and soon everyone looked to Punxsutawney Phil for the prediction of when spring would return to the country.


But when it comes down to it, flipping a coin may be as accurate as Phil. Since 1988, he was “right” 14 times and “wrong” 16 times. In other words, only 14 times did the national average temperature for the remainder of February match what would be expected based on what the groundhog predicted.


Posted in AppleBlog

Top Advertising Agency Creates Reality TV Show

As Hollywood continues to set up shop in Pittsburgh, a local advertising agency is taking a crack at the reality TV biz

Apple Box Studios partnered up with a local artist and his wife to create the pilot episode of Room 2 Grow, a new reality TV series that shot in November and will be ready for distribution March 2018.

Christopher and Stacy Galiyas tried for several years to have a child. They finally found success through a local fertility clinic. And when it came reality TVtime to learn the gender, they made it count. This life chapter sparked the idea behind Room 2 Grow, the half-hour reality TV series that takes the gender reveal phenomenon to the next level. Christopher is the creative visionary. Stacy is the voice of reason who keeps it all together while balancing work, family, and her husband’s non-stop schedule.

Each episode will feature a new couple with a story to tell. They will discuss their journey, overcoming life challenges, how they met, and the excitement of their newest family addition.

Helping the soon-to-be parents through the uncertainty of starting a family is the inspiration for the work that follows. Christopher and Stacy are the only ones aware of the baby’s gender. They aren’t just turning a room into a nursery.  They are transforming it into a magical and poignant space filled with meaning.

This show can be featured on a wide variety of networks such as, A&E, Bravo, HGTV, Lifetime, and other family channels. We are creating the pilot now and will soon be pitching it to networks.

This is much more than a home improvement show. Room 2 Grow is about the bonds of family, our hopes and dreams for the future and the opportunity of a lifetime.


Room 2 Grow is produced by Apple Box Motion Arts, LLC

Principal photography: November 2017 in association with Apple Box Studios Inc.

Available for Distribution: March, 2018

©2017 Apple Box Motion Arts, LLC

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Biggest Advertising Campaign Fails of 2017

Before we kick off with what 2018 has in store for advertising, let’s review some of the 2017 marketing disasters

We bet you instantly though Pepsi and Kendall Jenner. And you wouldn’t be wrong. That was indeed one of the biggest campaign fumbles in the past decade. But let us joggle through your memory and bring to light a few other flub-ups that would like to be forgotten.

Pepsi/Kendall Jenner

Trying to use Black Lives Matter to sell sugary soft drinks shouldn’t sound like a good idea. And it wasn’t. In Pepsi’s Content Creators League commercial, the model ditches a photoshoot to join a march happening on the street. Jenner saves the day when she hands a police officer a can of Pepsi. It was crucified on social media, mocked on SNL, and ultimately pulled from air. Advertising agencies seized the opportunity to say something like this would have never happened had a shop been involved. (And they’re right). PepsiCo Global Beverage Group President Brad Jakeman left six months later to form a consultancy, and told Ad Age the spot was “the most gut-wrenching experience of my career.”


People were not lovin’ the McDonald’s U.K. Filet O’Fish campaign. A commercial from Leo Burnett showed a young boy sorrowfully asking his mom about his deceased father. After a long minute and fifteen seconds of the boy learning he’s the exact opposite of his dad, it’s revealed they shared a McFavorite for the Filet O’Fish. Hook line and sinker for the haters who said this was exploiting bereavement to sell sandwiches.

Big Tobacco

This campaign fails worldwide. Big Tobacco agreed to run anti-smoking ads on TV for the first time since 1971 as a consequence of the cigarette industry’s master settlement agreement. The campaign began in November and are the least convincing you will ever see. Plain black text on a white background with mandated warnings.

Fragrance Ads In General

Granted some aren’t awful, but Chanel may have been huffing something other than perfume. Its Gabrielle fragrance campaign shows Kristen Stewart unraveling herself from a cocoon of sheer to then punch through a wall of diamond-like substance all to the soundtrack “Runnin’ (Lose It All)” by The Naughty Boy. Aren’t they paying women in Hollywood enough these days?


Click here to see AdAge’s full article with more campaign fails.

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Paid-Search Insights to Help Win The Holidays

Holiday shopping is crucial to paid search advertisers. How can you make the most of it? We found some insights and tips to improve your paid search performance.

paid searchReady or not, the holidays are here! Black Friday is only three days away, which means it’s the most wonderful time of the year to get your products in front of millions of shoppers searching for the perfect present at the perfect price.

Recently, we read an article on strategies for making the most of your paid search campaigns this holiday season. And the findings may surprise you.

1. It’s not all about Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Bing Ads data reveals majority of us are procrastinators. Shocker, right? What you may not know is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday only make up a whopping 17 percent of all holiday sales. Forty percent of gift purchases are made after these big days.

So what does that mean for you? Don’t blow your budget. You still want to save a decent chunk and bid early to get the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but you also want to save a little for sales throughout the season. That includes pre and post-Christmas!

  • Use a campaign planner to benchmark and project seasonal traffic spikes
  • Set up automated rules and alerts to track ad spend in real time. (This allows you to have budget to spend to win sales late in the season).
  • Make sure your titles include all relevant details like brand, size and color. Don’t forget about character limits, and test the order of product attributes to determine what works best.

2. Early-birds account for 39% of holiday sales

While some of us are holding on to the last bits of Indian Summer, lots of early birds are searching and buying well before Thanksgiving. 30 percent of holiday purchases are made year-round, and 9 percent are made in the weeks before turkey day. What does this mean? You need to plan earlier and have your campaigns ready by early November. If you’re still working on them now, sorry sister, you’re late.

In November, your early birds and non-procrastinators are researching their upcoming purchases. Leading up to Thanksgiving, you’ll want to focus on building brand trust by making it easy for searchers to access product reviews and comparisons.

  • Use extensions to link to reviews and product compromises
  • Expand keyword coverage to include research-centric terms like “ideas,” “best,” “kids” and “women’s.”
  • Remarket! They already came back to look; make sure they return when they are ready to buy.

3. One for you, two for me

In the era of “treat yo self,” self-gifting is at an all time high. People shop for themselves about 70 percent of the time during their holiday shopping spree, especially when it comes to apparel. Something about putting on a new dress or new shirt for Christmas dinner just feels right, doesn’t it?

  • Test out self-gifting ad copy for popular self-gifter items.

4. There’s more than just turkey and football on the brain

Like dinner, search is  hot on Thanksgiving. Shoppers are gearing up, scouring the internet as the plan their Black Friday attack. What are they searching for? Deals, duh. The week leading up to Thanksgiving, showcase your upcoming deals. Then, on Black Friday, make it easy for customers to find your store and coupons.

  • Adjust copy to relevant keywords and seasonal terms like “special holiday offer” and “Black Friday deals.”
  • Countdown ads show a sense of urgency for limited-time offers.
  • Make it easy for shoppers to find your nearest location to their mobile device.


So what are you waiting for? Time to get your product in front of shoppers. The holidays are literally here!

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