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60 Seconds On: Facebook Targeting Options

60 Seconds On: Facebook Targeting Options

Facebook offers a variety of targeting options for  your audience targeting pleasure. Here’s a 60 second overview of what you need to know about the Facebook targeting options in order to choose the best ones for your ads:


Topics covered in this post:

  1. Interests and behaviors 
  2. Fans and Friends of Fans
  3. Custom audiences
  4. Lookalike audiences

*this is not a how to guide for getting started with facebook advertising, if that’s what you’re looking for, please read this step-by-step guide [with screenshots] to creating a Facebook ad

Interests and behaviors

Interests and behaviors are lists of anything and everything you can think of that could define the characteristics of an audience.

Facebook analyzes the information we share on our Facebook (pages we like, activities we take part in) as well as information it ingests from outside sources about us to define for advertisers characteristic-based buyer persona’s.

For instance, if you’re marketing an innovative new technology service, you could choose to target those who have expressed interest in tech and/or those who’s behavior, Facebook believes, makes them technology early adopters.

When you’re just starting out with Facebook for business, interests and behavior will [and should] be the initial Facebook targeting options you choose.

They’ll help you to explore the various audiences that your business offering can bring value to (and create specific ad-messaging for each) and then hone-in on the most valuable audiences for your business (those who either convert for the lowest cost or have the highest life-time-value because they spend more over time).

Fans and Friends of Fans

After your business had been active on Facebook for a while you’ll start to get some Fans (=people who have “liked” your Facebook business page).

These fans have made a conscious decision to want to engage more with your content.

They may not be people who want to buy from you right now (either because they already have and currently don’t have a need, or because they’re just learning about your offering and are not ready to buy) but they are definitely people you want to coddle. They are your customer community.

Facebook has essentially become a pay to play type network in which organic reach of your content to fans is in the single digits, you need to promote your posts in order for these people, your fans, to see your content.

The reality is that if they don’t see the wonderful posts you’ve worked hard on making on their newsfeed, they won’t see them at all (when was the last time you said to yourself “I haven’t seen a update from the page XXX in so long, I’d better go to the Facebook page to see what’s new with them”).

In order to get your content in front of your fans you need to promote it to them, or in other words – from the available targeting options, choose to target fans.

On the flip-side, if you don’t want your fans to see a certain promotion, you need to choose to exclude them.

Friends of fans are another nice Facebook targeting option. When you choose to target friends of people who have liked your page, when they see your promoted post, they’ll also see an indication right above it the their friend YYY has liked the page. That’s basically an endorsement and you should capitalize on that.

We know that people tend to trust their friends more than brands and so this little indication that their friends “likes” you, increases the chance that this stranger you’re targeting on Facebook will want to engage with you more, and maybe even buy from you.

Looking at this from a different angle – if someone likes your brand page, being as most of us usually befriend people similar to us, there is a higher likelihood that his friends will like your brand and so by targeting friends of fans, you could increase your audience, your community, easily.

The best Facebook targeting options:

Custom audiences

This Facebook targeting option is my second favorite (my favorite is lookalikes and we’ll get to it in a moment).

There are 2 Types of custom audiences:

  1. Custom list – You upload a list of emails (or phone numbers) from your customer database to Facebook and target ads specifically at them. In this manner you can choose to add a list of people who have made one purchase but not 2, and target them with ads that include a coupon for their second purchase. Or you can choose to target those who’ve signed up to your service and never purchased at all and create an ad especially relateable to them.
  2. Visitors – If you’ve embedded the Facebook tracking pixel on your website (if, not, you really should), Facebook knows which pages of your site has been visited by which Facebook user. You aren’t privy to this information (privacy issues), but you can certainly use it to your benefit. For example, You can choose to target everyone who has visited a specific landing page on your site in the last 30 days (or 90 days) and show them an ad related to the landing page experience.

Lookalike audiences

The time has finally come to talk about my favorite of all facebook targeting options – lookalikes targeting.

I mainly do direct response user acquisition, so my goal is usually to get more new people to convert and become customers and lookalikes is absolutely the best option for that because lookalikes are people who, according to Facebook, are similar in various characteristics to your current audience.

Now, who is “your current audience”? In order to create and then target a lookalikes audience, you need to first give Facebook a “base” audience and you do that by creating a Facebook custom audience (like we covered above).

After you’ve created one or more custom audiences of various types of existing customers / visitors, you can have Facebook find you similar people to target with your ads or content.

When creating lookalike audiences you need to define 2 things – which country you want this lookalike audience to come from and how similar you want this audience to be in relation to you “base” custom audience.

The latter goes on a scale from 1% to 10% audience similarity with 1% being the closest in similarity to your original custom audience group.

Why wouldn’t you always go for 1%? (most similar)

Well that’s about options really and size of audience. The less similar the lookalike group is from the original, the more Facebook users it includes and if your 1% is not enough for you, you should consider expanding.

Why do I love this option so much?

Because it’s extremely effective. You don’t have to go into philosophical discussions around who your audience is, what they like and why – you just take your list of customers, which are people who have already exhibited an active interest in your offering, and just find more people like them.

Facebook does all the hard-lifting for you in deciding what it means that this lookalike audience is “similar” to your customer and you just trust that Facebook knows what it’s doing [hint: Facebook knows us all very well so lookalike audiences work fantastically!].

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