Marketer’s guide to Facebook ad targeting

Facebook targeting is a vital piece of today’s social media marketing: The ability to target your ads to the audience(s) that cares the most is marketing gold

But, before we jump ahead to the what it is, let’s back up to say what Facebook ad targeting is not: In August 2018, Facebook removed over 5,000 ad-targeting options with the goal of “protecting people from discriminatory advertising on our platforms.”

Among other exclusions, “this includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.” A major change, for sure – and one that revolutionized the way marketers target their Facebook ads. The way we market our Facebook ads. Today, we can still build specific audiences via Facebook; we just can’t do it through discriminatory advertising.

Why should you care? Is it worth the time and fuss?

Walmart Facebook ad

Screenshot via Facebook

We know that 1.5 billion people log into Facebook daily – and that they average nearly an hour on the platform, every day – so we also know that dominating your Facebook ad targeting is the key to getting your product or service in front of a motivated, interested, and engaged audience. 

Even more importantly, in front of a motivated, interested, engaged and pre-qualified audience

Let’s get the overwhelming part out of the way: There are a ton of Facebook ad targeting options, and the options you select can impact the cost of your Facebook ads. We’re talking thousands (and thousands) of combinations. The key is not letting it get to you. Take it option-by-option and you’ll slowly march your way towards highly targeted ads.

It all comes down to one thing: strategy. Your Facebook marketing strategy will inform your targeting, as your targeting will also refine your marketing strategy. So, begin with your goals and work backward from there. 

So, what are your options for Facebook ad targeting?

Facebook ad targeting - Audience

Screenshot via Facebook Ads Manager

Okay, you have your goals. You’ve honed in on a strategy. You’re ready to start focusing on a specific audience. Or, a few specific audiences.

Here’s a quick tip, before we jump in: Do not stay too broad and do not go too narrow. Too broad of a focus means you’ll pay for unqualified impressions, while too narrow a focus means you’ll miss out on great leads. Shoot for the middle ground, and your ads will appear in front of many qualified eyes. And that’s exactly where you want to be.

As we mentioned above, there are thousands of targeting options. We won’t go into all of them here – although, if you want to visualize them all, there’s a great infographic for that – but we can do a quick rundown:

  • Demographics: Target Facebook users by location, gender, age, language, relationship status, income, education, work, life events, parental status, and politics. 
  • Interests: Hone in on business/industry, entertainment interests, family & relationships, fitness & wellness, food & drink, hobbies & activities, shopping & fashion, sports & outdoors, technology, and the Pages they like.
  • Behaviors: A user’s behavior can say a lot about who they are and what they care about. Focus on their mobile device, upcoming anniversaries, consumer preferences, digital activity, expat status, interest in upcoming events, multicultural affinity, purchase behavior, travel, and soccer interests.
  • Connections: There’s serious value in targeting users who like your Facebook Page, who have used your app, and who have responded to your events. 
  • Remarketing: Show your ads to people who have visited your website, are on your email list, are on your phone list, or are on your Facebook user list.

Tips to improve your Facebook ad targeting

Bombas Facebook ad

Screenshot via Facebook

You are on board. You are werking. it. You are ready to rock your Facebook ad targeting. Here are a few things you shouldn’t forget.

  • Don’t ignore the power of Life Events. We love having the ability to peg our Facebook ads to important life events. Let’s take the newly engaged: If you’re a jewelry company, a wedding planner, a local wedding locale, a destination wedding locale, a popular wedding registry site, a honeymoon registry site, a – okay, you get the picture – then you have good reason to target people who have listed Engaged within the last, say, six months of Life Events.
  • Focus on recent purchase behavior. Facebook insights can clue you in to users’ interests: Do they love certain TV shows? Do they read science fiction? Do they click on lots of purchase listicles? Etc. etc.
  • Don’t ignore your existing audience: It’s so tempting to focus your marketing budget on new acquisitions but if you reserve all your money for the new, you won’t have anything left over to nurture the existing. So, set aside a piece of your budget to target existing Facebook Page followers, website visitors, group members, and other Facebook users who have already expressed interest. Convert the casual observers to loyal followers.

Want more Facebook followers? No budget required!

The best news of the day? You don’t need a cent to build your Facebook following, effortlessly an effectively.

If you’re looking for more information about Facebook marketing we have a series of guides on the site to answer questions like how to pin a post on Facebook groups?

If you haven’t already, take 5 minutes to install our Facebook follow button, then sit back and watch your Facebook following grow overnight! You can also check out the Facebook share button to get users to easily share your content.

About ShareThis

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

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