How to Set a Better Target Audience for Your Facebook Ads

Dec 2015

One of the biggest advantages to Facebook ads compared to other forms of advertising is their ability to reach a very select audience via robust targeting capabilities. With everything from occupation, to interests, to behaviors, these parameters allow you to reach a more narrow demographic in a deeper fashion; the idea being that these people are more likely to actually take the next step when they see your ads. While this sounds logical and simple, the amount of options and filters offered to you through Facebook targeting can be overwhelming. Instead of fumbling through demographic darkness, try these four tips to setting a better target audience for your Facebook ads.

Photo: @seansmia
Photo: @seansmia


Understand Your Page’s Existing Audience

The first step to connecting with the right users on Facebook is to examine your page’s existing audience to determine if your fans fit your business’ target demographic. To do so, click on the ‘Insights’ tab at the top of your page, then select ‘People’ from the left hand dropdown menu. This will give you a breakdown of the gender, age range, and geographic location of your fans, thereby allowing you to either re-target your ads to the demographic you’d like to reach, or tailor your ads to your page’s fan base to encourage more engagement and drive additional web traffic.

Explore Your Options

Under Facebook’s ad targeting tools, there are four main factors to determine the breadth of your audience: Location, Demographics, Interests, and Behaviors. You can make each of these parameters as broad or specific as you’d like, but there are tips to maximizing the efficacy of each.

  • Location: even if your product or service is available on a national or even global level, trying to target too broad an audience will either burn through your ad spend very quickly, or not reach relevant users, or both. If your ad is more tailored to a certain geographic region, enter the top 5 largest metropolitan cities in that area for a strong sample size. Or, for an even simpler approach, try entering the top ten cities listed as your fans’ home base as a starting point.
  • Demographic: this is the basic info of gender and age range. The most straightforward of all parameters, this portion shouldn’t give you too much pause. However, it is important to note that while your company page may reach the demographic you hope, it may be beneficial to expand the demographics of your ads to tap into a new market segment you may not otherwise be reaching.
  • Interests: this is where it gets tricky. There are thousands of options listed when it comes to interest, and not all are good. If a certain interest is listed with too small a sample size (typically less than 100k) than it may narrow your search too far. It is also important to remember that most Facebook users become fans of companies or people they like as opposed to listing specific interests, so mixing in competitors pages or comparable products can help increase your market share.
  • Behaviors: are you signed up for your favorite products’ rewards programs via your e-mail address? If it’s the same as the email you use to log into Facebook, targeting will track your spending habits and serve you ads based on your purchase behavior. Therefore, if you are a nail salon trying to reach women who are willing to pay $40 a month for a mani/pedi, women who consider themselves “spa enthusiasts” (an actual listed behavior in Facebook targeting) would be an excellent category to target.

Creating Custom Audiences

The best way to truly target interested customers is through a custom audience, which can be created in a number of ways. The two most efficient custom audience types can be broken down into two categories: an imported e-mail list, and web traffic conversion pixel, both of which are considered ‘re-targeting ads.’ This means that instead of reaching people with no relationship to your brand, you are using an existing e-mail subscription list or the IP addresses of unique viewers to your website to serve ads to those interested parties.

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