It’s popular to trash Facebook these days.
Its stock price has fallen to record lows, billionaires are dumping their stock, big companies are abandoning their paid advertising campaigns and there have even been doubts raised about the legitimacy of Likes companies get from their FB ads.
Certainly Facebook advertising isn’t going to work for everyone. As I wrote about a few months back, it’s very difficult to get direct sales from Facebook ads. But, depending on the kind of business you’re in and your strategy, FB ads can and do work.
What Facebook has going for it that no other company can match is an incredibly rich amount of demographic data about their users. From the information you put in your profile to your Likes to the web pages you visit, Facebook has compiled the most accurate and complete demographic profiling information available to most advertisers.
So, let’s focus on the positive here!
In this article we’re going to look at how demographic targeting on Facebook works and three real world examples to see how different businesses can use Facebook to laser target their prospects.
How To Target Your Prospects on Facebook
When trying to reach your target demographic on Facebook, there are a number of the usual options you’d expect…Age, Gender, Education, Location (Country, State, City, Zip Code), etc.
And while that’s all well and good, where things really get interesting is in the more advanced demographic and interest targeting options. Here you can target people by their likes and interests either through Broad Category Targeting or Precise Interest Targeting.
Broad Category Targeting
With Broad Category Targeting, you check off pre-set groups from a list of categories Facebook has compiled. Here are some of examples of the groups you can target within these broad categories:
- Activities: Cooking, Gaming(Social/Online), Gardening, Photography
- Family Status: Away From Home, Baby Boomers, Engaged, Expecting Parents, Parents (child: 4-12yrs)
- Interests: Charity/Causes, Health & Well-being, Home & Garden, Pets (Cats), Pets (Dogs), Politics (US Non-Partisans)
- Retail/Shopping: Beauty Products, Consumer Electronics, Fashion, Luxury Goods
Precise Interest Targeting
With Precise Interest Targeting, you type in keywords and Facebook will come up with a list of related likes and interests you can use to target prospects. Here’s an example where I type in the keyword “entrepreneur”…
With Precise Interest Targeting, you can type anything from names of brands, movies, books and TV shows to activities such as home schooling, baseball and crocheting to occupations/job titles such as lawyers, engineers, CEOs. And much more!
To get a better sense of how this all targeting can work, let’s look at some real world examples.
I’ve picked out 2 real businesses and 1 “generic” politician (to keep things non-partisan!) and have come up with suggestions of different targeting options they could use to reach prospects through Facebook ads. (Note: None of these are clients of mine and I have no connection to, or insider knowledge of, their businesses).
Example 1 – ikram Clothing Store
ikram is a high end women’s clothing store in Chicago.
When targeting an affluent, fashion conscious market the easiest way to do so on Facebook Ads is through the Broad category options of “Fashion” and “Luxury Goods”.
If we were to target Facebook users who fall in those categories and live within 10 miles of Chicago, we get an audience of 1,041,400 people. That’s a pretty big group and it’s often better to more finely slice and dice things for optimal results.
One way to do that is to limit your demographics by age and gender. Since ikram sells women’s clothing, it makes sense to target women with their ads (though they could run ads to men promoting ikram as a place to get memorable, unique gifts for spouses or girlfriends).
ikram could also narrow the age range to target women 35 and older (who are likely to have more disposable income).
Another trick I’ve used in campaigns targeting more affluent customers is to set the Education targeting option to “College Grad.” By targeting college grads (as with targeting an older demographic), you tend to reach a more affluent group.
Instead of targeting the Broad Interest categories of Fashion and Luxury Goods, ikram could also switch to Precise Interest Targeting and use keywords that their customer base likes.
For example, they could target…
- Larger, high end fashion stores like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus
- High end fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani and Coco Chanel
- High end brands (not necessarily related to fashion) like BMW, Lexus and Lancome.
While ikram can certainly target Facebook users across Chicago, having some campaigns that target users in more affluent cities like Naperville, Highland Park or Lake Forest could work well.
Also, there are affluent neighborhoods within the city of Chicago that can’t be targeted by city name. By using zip code targeting, however, ikram could run ads in these neighborhoods. (You can only target ads by city OR zip code so, in this case, you’d have to set up one ad that targets the suburbs and another that targets within the city limits of Chicago by zip.)
Lastly, Facebook lets advertisers target users on or around their birthday. Using this information, ikram could run ads promoting a special 25% Off birthday coupon that will reach people right around their birthdays.
Example 2 – Generic Political Candidate
It’s campaign season here in the U.S. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing ads for politicians. Political yard signs are sprouting up like weeds. And the backs of cars are getting covered up with bumper stickers for, or against, various candidates.
But how could a candidate turn to Facebook to reach voters?
I won’t use any specific politician here as an example, but let’s look at some of the ways a politician, in general, could use Facebook advertising.
First, and most obvious, is targeting users geographically. Depending on whether the candidate is running for local, state or national office, they could use Facebook’s geographic targeting options to reach their intended audience.
Also, since you have to be 18 or older to vote, it makes sense to run ads only to those 18 and above.
But politicians can get very creative using Facebook.
Sticking with age targeting for a moment. The candidate may want to target older voters with ads promoting the politician’s plans for Social Security and Medicare. There are over 16 million FB users who are 64 or older in the United States that could be targeted with ads about those issues.
Let’s say you have a candidate that wants to tout their strong record of protecting the environment. Under “Interests” in the Broad Category targeting, one of the options is “Environment” which the candidate could easily use to target voters who are likely to care more about environmental policies.
Using Precise Interest Targeting, the campaign could get even more creative. They could target:
- Users who like the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups.
- People who like Al Gore and/or his movie “The Inconvenient Truth”.
- Those who enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, or hunting.
Facebook also lets you target parents. So a political candidate could run ads touting their plans for Education to parents (and you can get specific on Facebook here by targeting parents of kids of various ages as seen below).
There’s also an “Education/Teaching” option under the Broad category of “Interests” that could be useful here.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for a politician. They can target people by political affiliations, specific political causes, and more. A savvy political campaign could get very strategic on Facebook by targeting highly relevant ads to specific demographic groups.
Example 3 – Chobani Greek Yogurt
For our last example, let’s look at Chobani, a national brand of Greek Yogurt.
For starters, Chobani has a product line, Chobani Champions, made just for kids. To target parents of kids with this healthy snack idea, here are a few options…
Since moms tend to do more of the food shopping, they could limit their ads to just target women. Then, as with our political candidate example, Chobani could benefit from targeting Parents using the Broad Interest Targeting options on Facebook. If their primary target market here is young kids to teens, they could limit ads serving to only Parents (child: 4-12) and Parents (child: 13-15).
Using Precise Interest Targeting, Chobani could focus on brand names and interests that parents identify with.
One option is to use brand names like Graco (baby products), Fisher-Price and/or Build-A-Bear Workshop.
They could also target specific groups such as Soccer Moms, Homeschoolers, or Mommy Bloggers (the last is not a big group, but the hope would be to get some Mommy Bloggers talking about Chobani on their blogs for the viral marketing effect).
Another market for Chobani is adults looking for a healthy snack/meal.
There are some Broad Interest category groups worth testing that would target Facebook users more likely to be interested in healthy products/snacks. Two good options here are “Outdoor Fitness Activities” (under Activities) and “Health & Wellbeing” (under Interests).
For Precise Interest Targeting, Chobani could target specific activities enjoyed by those interested in a healthy lifestyle such as yoga or those who participate in marathons or triathlons.
Since Chobani sells Greek Yogurt, obviously targeting those who Like Greek Yogurt makes sense! This can be done by targeting the keyword “Greek Yogurt” as well as by targeting the names competing brands like Voskos and Oikos.
Another interesting opportunity for Chobani that I’ve successfully used in the past is targeting people interested in Couponing with ads promoting a coupon.
There are a number of coupon websites that get a ton of traffic and have very loyal followers. If one of those sites picks up on a coupon Chobani offers through Facebook, the coupon could easily go viral and reach many more people who would not have seen the Facebook ads. (Using this strategy, the brand I was running FB ads for got thousands of Likes in a few days because a few coupon sites published their coupon…and they only spent about $50 in clicks during that time!)
These three examples give you a taste of what’s possible with Facebook targeting. As you can see, you can get very creative in how you reach your ideal prospects.
Yes, it can be a challenge to measure the results of FB ads. Yes, it’s difficult to convert Facebook visitors into customers. And, yes, there’s a lot of room for improvement for FB paid advertising.
But, if you know who you’re trying to reach, you can get very targeted, and very creative, about reaching them through Facebook.