Facebook is the most popular social media platform globally, with more than 2.6 billion monthly active users (as of January 2021). As a result, there’s so much potential for businesses, both big and small, to get more visibility through advertising on the platform. In the UK alone, Facebook’s advertising reach was almost 65% of the total adult population (2021). That’s well over 37 million different users.
Still, if you know one thing or two about digital advertising, then you know that it’s not merely about how many people you manage to reach with your ads. But rather, how many “right people” you reach. In other words, advertising on Facebook is more about quality and less about quantity.
If you want to reach the right audiences, that is, the people who are most likely to become a fan or customer, then you are going to have to rely on Facebook’s extensive targeting options.
How does Facebook ads targeting work?
The social media platform allows advertisers to reach a group of people through “audiences”, a form of labelling offered by Facebook to make targeting people easier for advertisers.
Facebook currently offers three types of Facebook Ads targeting audiences, each full of individual options that marketers can rely on to reach their target customers.
Saved or core audience
Facebook enables you to store your targeting settings for the sake of saving precious time in a future campaign. This is perfect for marketers who already have a clear idea of the market demographics of their target audience.
You can choose the demographics, interests, and behaviours of your audience. For now, we will focus on demographics-based targeting since the other two deserve a section of their own later on. Demographics-based targeting includes:
You can target people based on country, region, city, or even postcode. You can include or exclude numerous locations to further narrow down your audience. Facebook also offers people the option to choose between: everyone in this location, people recently in this location, or people travelling to this location. Additionally, Facebook allows you to actively drop a pin in a location of your choice using the map provided.
You can select the minimum and maximum age of people you think will find your ad relevant.
You can either go with men, women, or all.
Facebook also offers you the option of targeting people based on their language.
Options include “in high school”, “in college”, “college grad”, “master’s degree”, and more. You can also target people based on their field of study and the schools they attend or attended.
You can target people based on their job title, industry, or even the company they work in.
Facebook allows you to create an audience list based on your own sources. These sources include website traffic, mobile app activity, customer contacts and offline activity. Examples of offline activity include people who interacted with your business in-store, by phone, etc. If your audience list is too small, Facebook will warn you with an “audience too small” alert.
If you’re wondering how you could get data about the behaviour of users on your website, it’s through adding a Facebook pixel to your site. Check out Facebook’s blog post about how you can set up and install a Facebook pixel.
In addition to your own sources, Facebook will also provide you with their data about users who have interacted with your business, in ways such as:
- People who completed a form in one of your lead gen ads.
- People who have interacted with a shopping experience.
- Users who have visited or interacted (liked, shared, messaged) your Instagram professional account.
- People who followed or interacted with your Facebook page.
- Users who have watched your videos on Facebook or Instagram.
This Facebook ad targeting option is based on people with similar traits to audiences you’ve already identified and targeted. Facebook allows you to tailor your lookalike audience based on custom audiences, people who have interacted with your business, a retargeting pixel, and more.
This option is great for marketers who are looking to broaden their Facebook ads target audience with a few clicks and whistles. For starters, you need to definite the source of your lookalike audience to help Facebook decide what type of customers you would like to reach.
Best Facebook ads targeting options
Now that we’ve dealt with the general targeting parameters offered on the platform, it’s time to delve deeper into some of the more efficient Facebook ads targeting options that can help you greatly boost your ad campaigns’ performance.
As the name suggests, Facebook interest targeting works based on what users of Facebook might be interested in. We’re certain that you yourself have been a target of this measure in the past. Indeed, it isn’t a coincidence that you get some Facebook ads on your news feed that feel like they were purely based on something you have shown interest in, both on Facebook and outside of it.
Facebook is actively deriving information from the lifetime activities of its users. These activities range from anything between hobbies, shopping, businesses, and more.
This form of targeting is brilliant because it allows advertisers, big or small, to concisely narrow down their target audiences, which helps with managing their marketing budget and ensures that they reach the right people. For example, if you sell running shoes, you can target users who are interested in running, marathons, etc.
How to do it
Using the detailed targeting section, which you can find in the ad set setting on the Ads Manager, you can browse through interests pre-set by Facebook themselves or look up your own.
The list of interests provided to you by Facebook includes many categories and subcategories. Of course, it’s highly recommended that you be more specific with your targeting option to access more niche audiences. However, going way too specific might backfire on you.
The main interest categories provided by Facebook are:
- Businesses and Industry
- Family and relationships
- Fitness and wellness
- Food and drink
- Hobbies and activities
- Shopping and fashion
In case you’re curious about the full list of categories and subcategories, make sure to check out this brilliant list made by the people over at InterestExplorer.
Life events targeting
One of Facebook’s oldest timeline features is the ability for users to document a major life event. It can be anything from a wedding to a start of a new relationship, job, birthday, death of a loved one, and more.
With technology and customer behaviour constantly evolving, marketing strategies must evolve too. And life events can be of major help for advertisers to reach people at certain critical moments in their lives, moments where they happen to be more likely to make a purchase.
Let’s check some examples
Some businesses or brands entirely depend on selling products to people currently experiencing certain major life events. For instance, if you own a wedding venue, you can target people planning a wedding in the near future. Perhaps you’re a local furniture company, so you might want to target students moving to your area. The list goes on and on.
Additionally, Facebook allows you to reach people based on intervals after or before the life event. That makes the process of targeting more dynamic and accurate than ever.
Behaviours can act as a pathway for you to target spending habits of Facebook users, amongst other things, including:
Businesses who develop products that are mainly aimed at mobile devices, for example, can use Facebook’s detailed targeting to reach people who fall under the following categories:
- All mobile devices by the operating system (iOS, Android, Windows, etc.).
- All mobile devices by brand.
- Network connection.
- New smartphone and tablet owners.
The most commonly used behavioural targeting parameter on Facebook is travel. Indeed, the social platform has numerous options to choose from:
- Frequent travellers
- Business travellers
- Currently travelling
- Frequent international travellers
- Returned from a trip (1-2 weeks ago)
These options are extremely helpful because, for instance, people who frequently travel are more likely to be well-off. After all, travelling is quite an expensive hobby. Combining this with other targeting options such as purchase behaviour (more on that later) can help you reach the perfect audience.
One of the best Facebook Ads targeting options, purchase behaviour targeting, allows marketers to reach users based on their consumers. When first creating an ad, under the behaviours section in the audiences’ panel, Facebook gives you the following options to choose from:
Carefully created by Facebook’s data mining partner companies, buyer profiles include DIYers, fashionistas, foodies, gadget enthusiasts, gamers, green living and more.
If you happen to be a B2B (business to business) company, then this subcategory is perfect for you. Options include business marketing, maintenance, office and corporate gifts, and training and publications.
Purchase habits & purchase types
This option allows marketers to target the offline and online purchase habits of consumers. Additionally, advertisers can target users based on whether or not they are an “above average spender” and whether they prefer to shop online or offline.
Let’s take your business to the moon together
If you feel overwhelmed by all the targeting options offered by Facebook, let us help you out. Contact us today, and we’ll show you how your business can bloom with Facebook Ads.