The Beginner's Guide to Facebook Targeting

February 17, 2014 by

Remember that time you were super excited to take advantage of Facebook’s uber precise ad targeting options, then quickly realized that, for better or for worse, there were more targeting options than you had friends on Facebook? Okay, so that’s an exaggeration, but for those just getting started, Facebook’s targeting arsenal can seem a bit overwhelming.

Getting up to speed is crucial, so we’ve created a beginner’s guide that highlights each of the primary targeting types that will be most relevant for a new Facebook advertiser and tips for getting started.

The Basics: Demographics

You’ve created your ad and chosen your campaign objective, now it’s time to find the audience that will not only click on your ad, but also perform the desired action. In other words, rather than waste money blasting ads to people who aren’t interested in your product, take the time to find the audience that is most likely to buy your product, install your app, like your brand page, or whatever the goal of your advertising campaign may be.

Start by targeting your ads to a broad group of people by filtering by Location, Age, Gender and other demographics.

Location targeting allows advertisers to filter by country, city, state and zip codes. Advertisers must first select a country (this is the only mandatory targeting option), then, based on their selection, will be offered a variety of more specific location targeting options based on state, province, region and so forth. Advertisers have the option of selecting the locations they want to target, or selecting a broader area and excluding certain locations.

Businesses that are running city-specific promotions will find value in targeting by location; especially small businesses whose user-base is generally secluded to a specific region. Businesses also may find, based on their own research, that their target demographic, say recent college grads that don’t own cars, are most often found in urban areas, or even certain zip codes within that urban area. Keep in mind that the price to reach an audience goes up with each level of location specificity. In other words, it is more expensive to serve an ad to 100 people in San Francisco than 100 people in the US.

Related Class: How to Launch a Successful Facebook Campaign

Age targeting lets advertisers deliver ads to any user over 13 years of age - Facebook’s minimum for sign up. Ads can be targeted to people by exact age, or age range. Note that you’ll need to set up multiple campaigns if you wish to target an ad to more than one age range.

Advertisers can also reach people who have birthdays in the coming week. To utilize this option: go to More Categories, Events, and select Has birthday in 1 week.

Gender is classified as men, women, or all. Targeting “all” is a good catch-all, but for best results, we recommend tailoring a campaign to men or women.

Language designation on Facebook provides advertisers with about 100 language options.  The highest used languages are:  English, Spanish, Turkish, French, Indonesian, Italian, German, Chinese, Portuguese and Arabic. For smaller brands, targeting by language will not be a consideration, however, for larger companies, this is standard practice.  An advertiser can also target fan posts by language. For bilingual advertisers, targeting these individual posts to different language communities will extend your audience.

More demographics includes options to target by Relationship Status, Education Level, Major, School, Undergrad Years, and Workplace. Relationship Status can be a fruitful target option if a business, such as a bridal shop or dating app, is looking to advertise to users whose status is “Engaged,” “In a Long Term Relationship,” or “Single.” Education and workplace options are best used by recruiters or businesses frequented by college students in a specific area.

Getting Specific: Interests & Connections Targeting

Once you’ve determined the broader audience that should see your ads, narrow this down even further by targeting individuals with specific expressed interests.

Interests targeting lets advertisers target individuals based on their Facebook activity. Interests are deduced from the content an individual has included in their Timeline, liked pages, apps downloaded, and other information included in the Interests, Activities, Favorite Music, Movies and TV Shows sections of their profile. Topic, keyword and broad targeting categories now all fall under this category after a recent Facebook targeting simplification

An advertiser can narrow their audience by as many as 200 interests. Choosing topics that are narrow in scope will reach a smaller, more targeted audience that may resonate more with your brand or campaign. Facebook will also suggest interests or topics similar to those you’ve searched for or selected to help you further narrow your audience.

Connections targeting distinguishes audiences based on their previous interactions or relationship, such a liking a Page or attending an event, with a business or page on Facebook. This is optimal for brands looking to exclusively target current customers or, on the flip side, exclude current customers from a campaign. The different types of connections include: All (default option), People connected to your brand, People not connected to your brand, and Advanced Targeting. Advanced targeting can be used to target or exclude specific individuals, or target friends of people connected to your brand.

This should get you started as you venture into the world of creating targeted ads on Facebook. Facebook’s targeting options extend beyond demographics, interests and connections to enable even more precise targeting with Custom Audiences, Partner Categories and Behavior Targeting - but that’s for another post. Have any questions about what we discussed above? Check out Facebook’s user guide for more information or tweet us your questions @ampush!

Related Class: 7 Elements of Highly Effective Facebook Marketing



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