Facebook & Instagram: Targeting Your Audience


Using Unique Targeting Strategies

to Reach Your Audience


Facebook’s many contributions to marketing have transformed social media advertising. From the many innovations that have been produced, the most notable is the unique targeting abilities that are offered within Facebook Ads Manager.

There are 3 key audience targeting options available for Facebook’s family of apps and services: Core Audiences, Custom Audiences, and Lookalike Audiences. Let’s walk through each one in detail to understand the value they can bring to your business.

Core Audiences:

Facebook’s Core Audiences targeting features allows you to target broadly, or as defined, as you’d like. With Core Audiences, you can target an audience based on criteria like location, age, gender, education, interests, behaviors, and connections.

The most complex and advantageous part of Core Audiences is the ability to target by user interests and behaviors.

  • Interest targeting is generated based on pages and topics that users interact with on Facebook and Instagram. For example, if there is enough engagement (page visits, posts engaged with via likes, comments, shares) received by a specific footwear brand on Facebook, that brand may show up as an Interest which you can target. However, if the brand receives very little engagement, they may be bundled together with a larger topic such as “shoes,” or may not exist as a targeting option at all.
  • Behaviors give you the ability to target your ads based on consumer behaviors such as prior purchases, device usage, and milestones, most of which is derived from Facebook and Instagram on-platform usage.

Limitations to be aware of: 

Facebook often changes the targeting options that are available to select from, based on the changing and evolving interests of users on the world wide web, as well as legislation updates. For example, after the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal in early 2018, along with other key events that followed, Facebook no longer provides to advertisers the advanced targeting options it once received from 3rd party data providers such as Acxiom, Epsilon, and Oracle’s Datalogix.

An example of limited targeting options that resulted due to legislative concerns is Facebook’s implementation of Special Ad Categories, which limits the targeting options available for ads soliciting consumers with housing, credit, or employment opportunities. If your ad promotes either of these categories, age range must be left open, geographical targeting must be a 15-mile radius around a targeted city, address or pin-drop, gender must be set to all, and detailed targeting options are severely limited. These guardrails are all set in order to ensure that ads do not discriminate against people based on certain personal characteristics, as defined by Facebook’s Discriminatory Practices Policy.

“…use Facebook to automatically generate an audience of users who share demographic and behavioral traits with your best customers.”

Custom Audiences:

Facebook’s Custom Audiences targeting feature is a business’s marketing dream come true, giving you the ability to create a list of people who matter most to your business, sourced from a variety of different options from first-party data to Facebook and Instagram-sourced information. The sources that can be used to create a Custom Audience include:

  • Website activity
  • A customer list based on emails or phone numbers
  • Application-usage activity
  • Users who watched your video on Facebook or Instagram
  • Users who engaged with the “Your Facebook Page” or “Instagram Business Profile”
  • Users who interacted with your Lead Form
  • Users who interacted with your Facebook Event
  • Users who interacted with your Instant Experience ad on Facebook or Instagram

By using this feature, you’ll be able to target and get right in front of the people that matter most to you, remarket to valuable customers or prospects, and invite them to continue the customer journey with your brand or business.

It’s also important to note that because Facebook hashes Custom Audience information, all of the data uploaded in these lists, including your first-party data, is protected through a cryptographic security method, and not stored or saved by Facebook.

Lookalike Audiences:

While Custom Audiences make precise retargeting possible, if your goal is to expand your audience or find new customers, Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature can save you time and resources. With this feature, you’ll be able to use Facebook to automatically generate an audience of users who share demographic and behavioral traits with your best audiences. The source used to generate this information can be any of the Custom Audience sources listed above, or users who follow your Facebook Page.  By doing this, you’ll be able to effectively find and target new prospects without having to conduct in-depth market research.

When creating a Lookalike Audience, you’ll be asked to select an audience range anywhere from 1% to a 10% Lookalike. A 1% lookalike consists of the people most similar to your lookalike source. Increasing the percentage creates a bigger, broader audience, but may lead to less similarities to your original source audience.

By using these advanced and ever-evolving targeting tools provided by Facebook, you’ll find unique and effective ways to connect with the right people, accomplish your marketing goals, and grow your business.

If you’d like to learn how to take advantage of these targeting capabilities, give us a ring and we’d be happy to discuss your paid social marketing strategy further.

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