man sitting at the MacBook retina with site Facebook on the screen

As a business owner in today’s economy, advertising on Facebook is essential. Because Facebook boasts over one billion users, and has amassed one of the most commercially relevant databanks in the world, the marketing potential on the network is limitless.

In order to capture full value, and maximize the return on Facebook advertising dollars, it is important to know who you need to connect with. Having a well defined target audience, also known as an ideal client persona, is the first step.

Once you know exactly who you want to be doing business with, Facebook provides eight highly valuable market segmentation tools that allow you to build an audience perfectly compatible with what you’re offering.

The result is that you are able to match visually appealing, actionable ads with the most relevant and eligible audience. The relationship that ensues is both enduring and profitable.

While each of the targeting options below are highly valuable and frequently used, some are used by marketers more frequently than others. The list below ranks targeting options on the basis of how frequently they are used by advertisers on Facebook.

1. Location

Even the largest marketers need to narrow their geographic focus. Facebook allows marketers the flexibility to target by country, state, city, or zip code.

It makes no sense to spend money advertising your business in an area that you’re unable to service. This is why location targeting is employed in nearly all ads campaigns.

2. Age

Facebook allows advertisers to target based on ages between 13-65+. This allows advertisers to deliver ads only to users that fall within the age groups that are consistent with their client personas.

3. Gender

Many client personas are geared toward a particular gender. Men are more likely than women to purchase power tools. Women are more likely than men to purchase makeup. Gender based targeting allows advertisers another important way to connect with the most relevant audience.

4. Precise Interests

This targeting method uses data supplied by Facebook users. Each completed profile identifies activities, interests, job titles, and education information that is relevant to each user. Each profile also identifies which pages users have liked, and the groups they belong to.

In a sense, each of the one billion+ Facebook profiles is a completed consumer survey. Advertisers can show ads to only the people whose interests and behaviors suggest they will have an affinity for whatever is being promoted.

The applications of this objective are literally infinite. A local pizza delivery restaurant could target people within their delivery radius that already liked Domino’s or Papa John’s Facebook business pages. A sporting goods retailer could target users near their store that like baseball for an upcoming sale on baseball bats, gloves and cleats. The possibilities are endless.

5. Broad Categories

Think of these as pre-populated personas. These are large groups of users that Facebook has identified and categorized based upon users’ expressed interests and behaviors.

“Business and Industry” for example, is made up of about 900 million people worldwide, and houses 24 separate subcategories ranging from advertising to architecture, management to marketing, sales to small business and many others in between.

The “Business and Industry” category may be more relevant to a B2B advertiser, while “Shopping and Fashion” may be more relevant to a B2C retail based persona.

6. Connections

This option is also very commonly used by advertisers to target their own followers. Posts on a Facebook business page typically reach 3-12% of users that follow that page. Utilizing ads with this targeting option is a way to dramatically increase that reach. Advertisers commonly receive an above average response from ads targeted to current followers.

7. Friends of Connections

This option allows advertisers to target friends of their current fans. When this option is used, ads will display which friends have already liked the advertiser’s page, app or event.

This targeting option leverages group dynamics, and provides social proof. No one likes to be first, and no one likes to be last. This option gives advertisers an advantage very similar to a direct referral.

8. More Demographics

This option allows advertisers yet another way to hone in precisely on the appropriate target persona. This category contains a variety of more highly specific demographic targeting options, enabling endless creative pairing possibilities.

  • “Relationship” allows a wedding caterer to specifically target people with a relationship status of engaged.
  • “Education” allows a college to specifically target high school juniors and seniors.
  • “Work” allows a recruiter to specifically target employees at a certain firm, or a B2B business to specifically target people with a certain job title.
  • “Financial” allows a realtor working in an affluent neighborhood to specifically target buyers above a specific annual income level.
  • “Parents” allows a baby retailer to specifically target new moms, a creative writing tutor to specifically target moms of high school kids, or an organic supermarket to specifically target moms that use “green” products.
  • “Life Events” allows a financial advisor to specifically target users with a new job for 401k rollovers, a property and casualty insurer to specifically target users that have recently moved, or retailers to specifically target the friends of those that have an upcoming birthday or anniversary.

The fascinating potential available on Facebook from an advertiser’s point of view is that all of the targeting options discussed above can be layered upon one another. This creates an incredible amount of flexibility and precision for entrepreneurs. The control and targeting specificity Facebook advertising offers drastically reduces risk, and dramatically increases ROI when compared with conventional advertising mediums of the past.


JJ Workman
About the Author

JJ is Director of Online Advertising at OMNI Online Solutions. He directs the strategy and implementation of advertising campaigns, including Google AdWords and Facebook, helping clients drive traffic to their website and profit to their business.

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