The Madness of Ads: Facebook Ad Targeting 101

One of the most interesting things about running Facebook advertising for yourself or for a client is the level of detail available for targeting those ads at specific people.

We’re going to run through the easiest type of ad to create, a promoted post, and then talk about the many different ways to target Facebook users with this post.

Choosing a Post to Promote

First, select the page you manage and an existing Facebook post to promote. Pick a post that has a great photo and well-written content, and that links to a relevant place on your website. (Be sure the link is using Google URL Builder).

Then, choose where you’d like that ad. We’ve found best results with desktop and mobile, and less so with right column ads.

The Madness of Ads: Facebook Ad Targeting 101
Choose a post that has a striking image, good copy and a hyperlink to your site.

Audience

Note that each horizontal grey line under Audience represents “AND.” That is, search terms grouped together constitute “OR.” But filters separated by that line divide the audience, as the person now must match both sections.

We’ll skip Custom Audiences this time around, as it’s a pretty technical and advanced topic and could take up a whole column by itself.

Locations

Under Locations, choose where you’d like this ad to spread. If the ad is for a regional service, such as an insurance company or law firm, then location targeting is vital. National clients will likely prefer targeting just the U.S.

Age, Gender & Language

Age is a deceptively important target. Alcohol-related ads require the age to be set to 21 or higher. Consider your target audience and whether they skew younger or older.

Gender targeting is a possibility, if your product or service is specifically designed for men or women.

Language is an interesting target. Normally, ads are filtered by language anyway, but if you need to restrict your audience further to only English speakers, or any other language, you can do that here.

More Demographics

Under More Demographics, you can filter by many other categories. I specifically like the Work & Job Title category, as that lets you aim your ad toward a lot of people who are in the same line of work as your target audience. Often, selections will show up here that won’t appear later under Interests.

Interests

Interests is probably where you’ll spend the bulk of your targeting time. Only Facebook Pages with a minimum number of Likes will appear here as an interest, so you won’t be able to find everything. Think about the typical person you’re targeting. What is he or she interested in? What’s the profile of the typical potential Facebook fan that you’re after — someone who not only is interested in the post you’re promoting, but the page as a whole?

The Madness of Ads: Facebook Ad Targeting 101
Remember that More Demographics and Interests are not complementary with each other.

Behaviors

The Behaviors section allows you to target how a person spends their money, what types of things they buy, how much they travel, how much of a sports fan they are, and so on. This section is seldom used because of how specific it tends to be.

Connections

Under Connections, you generally want to leave this set to All. However, you can target your fans specifically if you’ve got a large fanbase and want to cater to them. You can exclude fans of your page if you’d like the ad to target complete strangers.

Under Advanced Connection Targeting, you can target people connected to the competition, which is a sneaky but fun trick. You can cut those people out altogether. Or, you can target people who are one degree of separation away from your page, relying on word of mouth to help sell your product.

Potential Reach

Take a look at the Potential Reach speedometer graphic and numbers. You want that needle to be right in the middle, and you want the potential reach number to be high, but not too high. Around 100,000-250,000 people for every $250 spent per month is a good guideline.

Campaign and Ad Set

Facebook ads are divided into overall campaigns, groups of ads called ad sets, and the ads themselves. You can set up your ad set name here, and choose your daily or lifetime budget. (Stick to daily, for the most part). The higher you set the budget here, the more willing Facebook is to reach a larger percentage of your potential audience. Money talks. Finally, be sure to schedule your ad so you don’t spend too much.

The Madness of Ads: Facebook Ad Targeting 101
The higher your budget, the more people you’ll reach.

Launch!

Place the order, give the ad a chance to populate, and you’ll start seeing engaged customers begin to flow in to your post, the rest of your Facebook page, and the link you sent them too. Mission accomplished!