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social media how toDo you use Facebook ads?

Are you aware of all of the targeting options Facebook offers?

Facebook offers so many ways to target potential customers, there’s a right advertising option for every business.

In this article you’ll find 21 ways to target specific audiences with Facebook advertising.

ways to improve facebook ads with ad targeting

Discover twenty-one ways to improve Facebook ads with ad targeting.

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#1: Know Your Customers’ Interests

On Facebook, you can target people who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to another page or topic. This is interest-based targeting, although it is commonly confused with “likes” targeting.

There are thousands of interests to target, and they’re located in the Interests section of your ad set settings.

facebook interests targeting

To target interests, go to that section of your ad set settings.

Type literally anything into the search box and Facebook will suggest matching or related interests.

related interest targeting

Type in a specific page, a subject or literally “anything” to get related interest.

Interest targeting usually means that you’re targeting large audiences. So before you set up interest targeting, evaluate the size of your target group. Then consider combining an interest with at least one other targeting method.

#2: Seek Out People in the Market for What You Sell

Our online behavior tells platforms a lot about our buying intentions. By combining data from different sources, Facebook is able to tell who is in the process of buying a given product.

Therefore, you can target people who are looking to buy something specific; for example, new vehicle shoppers in the market for a luxury SUV.

This option is located in the Behavior section of the ad set settings.

behavior targeting

Go to the Behavior section to target people looking to buy a specific product.

You’ll see multiple categories in a scenario like this, because Facebook allows you to be that specific. In the case of the SUV, target people who are looking for a new SUV, a used SUV and so on.

Experiment with this targeting option to determine which methods are most profitable.

#3: Target People Based on Financial Resources

If you want to sell a product or service that is tied to affordability, this method is extremely useful. Listed under Demographics, this targeting option allows you to select among Income, Net Worth and Liquid Assets.

income targeting

Go to the Financial option under Demographics to target by income and net worth.

Liquid Assets is an option under Net Worth.

liquid assets targeting

The Liquid Assets segment is located under Net Worth.

Targeting people by income, net worth or liquid assets usually works well as a stand-alone option. When businesses combine it with a behavior that best matches their target group, the audiences are often too narrow. The trick is to choose a broader behavior than usual in case the audience turns out to be small (for example 10-20K).

According to Facebook Power Editor, their data is “Modeled based on age, income, presence of children, occupation, property data, vehicle data, investment interest and census median data.”

#4: Combine Age and Gender With Where People Live

Instead of simply targeting geographic areas, add age groups and gender to the mix. For example, target men ages 25-35 who live in New York City.

This is based on the first information people share when they create a Facebook profile: age, gender and city they live in. Targeting people based on where they live can also be a great substitute for targeting certain income levels, because it presumes a certain quality of life.

This method can be used right after setting up an ad set.

age and gender targeting

After you set up an ad set, narrow your target to age, gender and location.

Target virtually any state, region and city in the world (with a few exceptions). Another option is to exclude part of a region to optimize your ads even further.

A few selected countries, such as the United States, also support zip code targeting.

#5: Target People by Industry or Occupation

For products or services that are ideal for people who work in a given industry or have a specific job, use industries or job title for the targeting method. For example, target “Employed in Arts, entertainment, sports and media.”

This is located under Work (below Demographics) on Facebook.

work targeting

For products and services related to a specific field, target by job titles or industries.

The industry people work in can be a great alternative to simply targeting by office type.

narrow work targeting

Narrow this category even more by targeting by office type.

In fact, office type targeting actually allows you to target three more small office categories.

#6: Promote to People Based on Homeownership Status

Just as Facebook can target people who are planning to buy something specific (like a car), the platform is also able to target people based on their homeownership status.

However, Facebook classifies homeownership as a demographic and not as a behavior, as it does with cars and other products. Target homeowners, renters or first-time homebuyers.

home ownership targeting

Target by homeownership, which is considered a demographic.

Additional targeting options include home type and household composition.

#7: Filter by Level of Education and Academic Degrees

Zeroing in on education level, academic field and other related topics is a great targeting method for products that are not appropriate for the entire population. Hone in on college grads, doctorate degrees and people who studied something specific.

For example, to market a professional résumé-building service for graduates, use this method to eliminate traffic that doesn’t match your user profile.

Education is a subcategory of Demographics.

education targeting

Education is a subcategory of Demographics, and can be narrowed down by education level, fields of study, schools and undergrad years.

Combine education with another targeting method to be as relevant as possible with the ads.

#8: Target Ethnic Affinities

If appropriate for your brand, target Ethnic Affinities, such as African American, Asian American or Hispanic. This option is available under Demographics.

ethnic affinity targeting

You can currently target these ethnic affinities in the United States.

This targeting method is only available in the United States. The data is based on people who live in the United States whose activity on Facebook aligns with a given ethnic affinity.

#9: Reach Out to Parents

Many ecommerce sites have parents and kids as a primary audience.

Facebook not only allows targeting of parents, it lets you narrow the parents based on the age of their kids.

This option is listed under Demographics.

parent targeting

Target parents based on the age of their kids.

This category also includes a section dedicated to moms and their lifestyle. Subcategories include Big City Moms, Corporate Moms, Fit Moms, Green Moms, Moms of High School Kids and more.

#10: Target by Generation

Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials pretty much define three completely different customer behaviors. They definitively help to narrow down the targeting options of many businesses.

The Generation tab is located under Demographics.

generataion targeting

Target Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, depending on your ideal audience.

Facebook defines these categories based on the birth year of the users in each category.

#11: Filter by Political Beliefs

You can target political beliefs (conservative, liberal or moderate) with your Facebook ad account.

Political data is available in Demographics for the United States only.

politics targeting

In the United States, you can target by political beliefs.

There is a section called Self Reported, which includes information based on self-reported data or donations. Facebook doesn’t have a source section listed for each of the political parties. Therefore, we don’t have an official answer to where they get this data.

#12: Reach Out to Those With an Upcoming Anniversary

This category targets people with an anniversary within 30 days. Since there is a deadline to a couple’s milestone, it’s an excellent opportunity to drive people to a sale.

Find upcoming anniversaries in the Life Events subcategory of Demographics.

life event targeting

Anniversary within 30 Days is located in Demographics under Life Events.

This is a great way to find people who have a reason to buy a present.

#13: Find Friends of People Celebrating a Milestone

Just like those about to celebrate an anniversary, it’s also possible to target the friends of people who have an upcoming birthday. It’s in the Friends subcategory in Life Events.

life event targeting of friends

Friends of Upcoming Birthday is also in Life Events.

Again, this is a great way to push sales to gift-givers.

#14: Find People in a Long-distance Relationship

Targeting a long-distance relationship is another great way for businesses and service providers to sell more gifts and vouchers.

This option is a subcategory of Life Events.

life event targeting by relationship

People in long-distance relationships are an excellent target if your business fits their needs.

Ecommerce solutions for people in a long-distance relationship benefit from this sort of targeting.

#15: Target Those Away From Family or Home

Other life events that may interest businesses are people away from family or home.

life event targeting by location

Away from family or hometown is also in the Life Events section.

Facebook seems to be using location information in accounts to retrieve this data for advertising purposes.

#16: Promote to People Who Recently Started a Job

People who just started a new job or got promoted at their existing one could be good targets for a clothing or accessory company. They may want to dress to impress at their new gig and may shop online.

Target people starting a new job using the Life Events option in Demographics.

life event targeting by employment status

Target new employees by going to the New Job category in Life Events.

Facebook retrieves this data from profile updates. Target people who changed their job over the past 6 months.

#17: Target People Who Love to Shop

Marketing to online buyers in households with many lifetime online purchases is much better than targeting just anyone, especially people who are unlikely to complete an online purchase.

This targeting method is listed under Behaviors.

behavior targeting by spending habits

Target people with above-average spending habits for your product or service.

Combine this behavior with other targeting methods to reach the largest possible portion of potential customers who are likely to buy online.

#18: Reach Out to People Who Live in Expensive Homes

Target people living in houses worth more than $1 million if your business offers premium goods or services such as home insurance.

Home values are included in Demographics under Home Type in the subcategory Home Value.

home type targeting

If you offer a premium service, especially for homeowners, target by home value.

Try different targeting options, depending on what you’re promoting. For example, create one ad set focusing merely on home value and another that combines it with other targeting methods. Then see what works best for your business.

#19: Find Gamers

People who connect to Facebook from gaming consoles can be targeted with Facebook ads. You can even target people who have played a game on Facebook within the past 14 days.

This option is listed under Behaviors.

behavior targeting by gamer activity

Target ads to gamers who recently played on Facebook.

Gamers also typically like pages related to console games or gaming systems.

#20: Seek Out Page Admins

If you have a tech product or service that could improve business and productivity for page admins, target them.

This is listed on Facebook as a Behavior.

behavior targeting of page admins

Find and target Facebook admins under Behaviors.

This targeting is perfect for apps, web-based services and other tools that are targeting page admins on Facebook.

#21: Target People Who Own Specific Mobile Devices

Facebook allows you to target people based on the mobile device they use to log into Facebook.

This method is available in the Behaviors section.

behavior targeting by device usage

If your company has a product on a specific mobile device, there’s a way to only target those users.

This targeting comes in handy for companies selling phones and accessories or for businesses that offer apps.

In Conclusion

While many marketers and business owners believe Facebook ad targeting options are too limited or too general, that’s not the case. There are a ton of targeting options and combinations out there.

Facebook is a goldmine of data and is definitely a good choice for the vast majority of businesses. This is just a selection of target audiences, among hundreds of options, available to anyone using the Facebook Ads interface.

Facebook ads are effective. Take the time to research different target methods to find the ones that best fit with your business, so you can create successful Facebook ad campaigns.

What do you think? Which combinations have you tried? What targeting works best for your business? Please share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

ways to improve facebook ads with ad targeting

Tips for improving Facebook ads with ad targeting.

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  • Great tip. I once read an article about super laser targeting where you only let 10 – 20 people see your ads and it was crazy.

  • Cathrine Friberg

    Always great articles! Have hade some thoughts on Facebook ads, so this was a great article.

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Thanks a lot!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    I am glad you enjoyed it!

  • Hello,
    your article is very interesting. I use facebook ads but do not have the posibility to choose the interest or behaviors options. I just have the interests option available. Is there a condition to get such many options for facebook ads ?

  • Scott

    Great information. On first glance, might want to use the option of birthdays. But, can you target the person that IS having the birthday and not the friends of the person?

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Nicolas, is your account targeting the USA? also, behavior might not show up if you boost posts but only through the ad manager or the business manager

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Scott, You can target people with upcoming birthday in life events which is a demographic option.

  • Adina Ciobanescu

    Interesting article! I didn’t know about all the targeting options.

  • Bob Jones

    I have seen software that allows you to combine those interests, instead of doing them one at a time….and also you can exclude people from your ads…
    Do you know how to do any of that without having to buy special software?

  • Amanda Riesemberg Ferreira

    Great!

  • Ilana

    Thank you for the article Rocco! It gave me great insights!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Adina, I am happy you found it helpful!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Bob, unfortunately there is no way to do it without a software but I am sure Facebook is working on a solution!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    You are welcome Ilana!

  • treb072410

    Great post Rocco, very helpful and very useful.. Thanks for sharing..

  • Tracey Elizabeth Norvell

    Rocco: Excellent, straight-forward, useful guide. I had to figure these things out on my own but your article is an terrific resource for many and a helpful reminder for people with experience. Well done!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    You are welcome!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Thanks a lot Tracey!

  • Shannon Stawniak

    Hi there! I loved this article. One question – when I try and boost a post, I am not given as many options (I have age, location). Is there a feature I need to turn on?
    Thanks so mcuh!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    Hi Shannon, Boosting a post is not ideal and it might unhide only some features. Do it from the ad manager and you will be all set!

  • Thanks for this overview, it’s very helpful. It’s too bad that many targeting options are only available in the U.S.

  • I just find it amazing at how detailed and laser-targeted FB ads are. I love FB ads. Thanks for sharing this post. Lots of awesome info here. I never even knew you can target financial status. lol I appreciate ya!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    You are welcome!

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    I totally agree but unfortunately different countries manage data differently!

  • I signed up to be an “ads manger” on FB page in anticipation of pushing a Facebook product ads feed – in typical Facebook “we didn’t think of that” fashion I am no longer an admin on my own page – can no longer post on my page and all scheduled posts have been terminated – besides using another admin (we have 3 now) will FB allow me to manage ads and be an admin or is this another “we really don’t care about the smb UX” signal?

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    You are able to be an admin of your page and still advertise your page using the business manager. The advertising platform (and its access roles) and pages are separate entities and having admin access to both of them should solve your issue.

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  • I’m curious @Rocco – how many companies do you manage that spend 2 billion dollars a year on digital advertising? at 5% commission that’s 91 million per customer per year – why are you still working?

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    If that doesn’t work try to create a business manger for your account (this simplifies user management) or contact customer service. I believe you already use that one email on FB and therefore that should not be the issue (i am referring to the second point of the alert message).

  • prayati

    nice article, most companies fail to utilize such detailed and specific options given by facebook.

  • Thanks for the info. What are the short-term effects on ad cost by narrowing down audience: If I add a behavior does that automatically increase the cost because I’m competing with others that entered the behavior search term, or does it decrease the cost because I found a more targeted audience that is searched for less than the separate interest/behavior?

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    It usually decreases it because your increases your relevance score

  • Marketing Sweet

    Thank you Rocco for this great article. I use facebook ad and I definitely find the ad targeting very accurate. If you take some time to set up your target, you will find the result faultless. Facebook remains a very good tool for B2C marketers.

  • vinay prashant

    Well encapsulated .. revisiting facebook advertising after a year after a dissapointing experience – i guess a lot has changed- i will use some of these targetting options . Thanks again.

  • Feng-i Wu

    I searched for some specific pages that i would like to put the Ads.
    But i typed those specific pages in detailed targeting box as picture.
    I can’t find those specific pages. Do you have any good idea to solve this problem.

  • Rocco Alberto Baldassarre

    unfortunately you cannot target pages. You can target interests which sometimes match a page name

  • Kelly Garsia

    Are these features still aviable on the new facebook? feb 2016?

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  • eclecticcouture

    How about targeting by relationship status? Im looking to target woman who are engaged only. Having woman who are not engaged would be pointless and eat up my Facebook ads dollars. Any help is appreciated. I cant seem to figure it out.

  • Grace Duffy
  • Grace Duffy

    You can find this setting in the Facebook Ad Set Level in Power Editor. See below:

  • eclecticcouture

    Excellent! Thats so obvious yet i missed it. Thanks!!!

  • Grace Duffy

    No worries! Glad we could help out!