Understanding Facebook Targeting on Ads and Promoted Posts

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

targeting-customersThe popularity of social media networks can be a two-edged sword for business owners seeking to increase their profits through marketing. There are so many people on social media, it makes sense for marketers to try to reach target audiences. But there are also so many people, that finding a particular target audience can be like finding needle in a haystack. Earlier this year, Facebook introduced a new targeting tool that made it easier to find those needles in Facebook’s haystack of more than 1 billion active users.  When it was first released, it was only available for Facebook ads, but the targeting tool has now been added for people using Promoted Posts. This post will explain how Facebook targeting works and show how business owners can make the most of the tool and how to target their target audience.

How Does Facebook Targeting Work
As the name suggests, Facebook Targeting let’s users choose to have their posts what kind of audiences will see their advertisement or promoted post. This is tremendously helpful to the majority of businesses that aren’t trying to market to everyone in the world at once. Most marketing campaigns are targeted to specific demographics and subsets within those demographics. To illustrate, the organizers of science fiction conventions aren’t just looking a specific age group, nor are they just looking for movie fans; they are looking for a fans in the target demographics with interests in one particular kind of movie. Using the targeting tools for Facebook Ads and Promoted Posts means that marketers can send their messages out with laser-like focus, instead of the shotgun approach of promoting to everyone in a target age range or location.

“Facebook can use attributes like interests or demographics and show ads to people who share common attributes as their existing customers,” wrote the Facebook Studio Blog when the features were first beta tested. “Advertisers can serve any type of Facebook ad [and Promoted Posts] to these new groups of people potential customers.”

How to Use Facebook Targeting
Since the feature was first launched, Facebook Targeting has changed the user interface multiple times. Each revision has made the feature easier to use which is good news for small business owners and marketers who want to take advantage of the tool without having to sit down with a manual.

For Promoted Posts, the way to access the advanced targeting options is to choose, “People You Choose To Target” from the Audience menu. Interests will be the fourth option after Location, Age, and Gender. In the box for interest, begin typing some of the interests that target audience of the post should have (e.g. a nonprofit may consider using “Charity” as an interest). Once the first interest is entered, Facebook will provide suggestions for other topics. Users can use up to 10 interests for each Promoted Post.

Facebook Ads still remain the superior option for marketing because it has more ways to target specific audiences. After choosing the objective when starting an ad campaign, Facebook will take the user to a screen where they will be able to pick from a large array of options. The section for audience has many of the same initial options, such as Location, Gender, Age, and Interest (this is labeled as Precise Interest but works the same as for Promoted Posts).

After these initial options, however, Facebook Ad users get to better decide which Facebook users will see their advertisement. Ad makers can choose broad categories like Android Users or Consumer Electronics, plus sub categories that will further determine the audience. There are two categories for Connections. Ads can be shown to people who are connected to a particular page or app on Facebook. Or they can connect to the friends of people who are connected to a particular app or page. The advanced targeting options also include Interested In (a subtle way to ask sexual orientation), Relationship Status, Language, and Workplace.

How to Use Facebook Targeting to You Marketing Advantage
Though it’s relatively clear that Facebook Targeting can be useful for small business owners, some may be unsure of where to start when choosing interests for their targets. For a business with a good marketing plan, things like target age ranges, the interests of key audiences, and other distinguishing factors of the demographics of target audiences were discussed when the plan was first developed. If this hasn’t been discussed before, business owners can catch up by asking questions like:

These questions questions would be a quick and easy way to for marketers to gain some insights into their target audiences that can be used to start a Facebook marketing campaign. As was mentioned in a recent article on this blog, using Facebook Graph search is an excellent way to find the best interests to use when targeting posts or ads. Social media marketers can search for the interests of the people who like their page and then promote their post to people with similar interests. However, this technique only works to tell a marketer what kind of people already like their page. If the goal is to reach a specific type of consumer, marketers can search for the interest of people who go to a page where the target audience already goes. To illustrate, if Company A wants more fans like those of Company B, marketers for Company A can use Facebook Graph Search to find the interests of the competitor’s fan and adjust their advertising, marketing message and targeting plans accordingly.

The addition of better targeting options for Facebook Ads and Promoted Posts are essential for keeping Facebook marketing relevant. The targeting tools make it possible for marketers to effectively reach their key demographics, down to specific interests, amongst the hundreds of millions of Facebook users. There is still a need for marketers to experiment to discover the best way to reach their targets, but the task has become a lot simpler. Finding a specific target audience for a business on social media is still like searching for a needle in a haystack. But with these targeting tools from Facebook, at least marketers now have a magnet.


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