social media how toHow are your Facebook ads performing?

Are you targeting the right people?

If you want your ads to perform better, combine Facebook Graph Search and Audience Insights data to increase advertising ROI.

In this article I’ll share how to plan better Facebook ad campaigns with audience targeting.

Why Use Advanced Targeting?

To achieve the greatest return on investment with Facebook advertising, you must understand your target audience. You need to know who they are, what they like, where they live and more so you can create ad campaigns that speak to them.

advanced facebook ad targeting

Discover how to use advanced Facebook ad targeting.

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Successfully targeting for your brand or specific campaign helps keep cost per click low, conversion rates high and relevance scores above average. In essence, the better you target your audience, the better your ad will perform at the lowest cost.

Here’s how to combine Facebook Graph Search and Facebook Audience Insights to get to know your audience and send the right message to the right people.

#1: Research Audience Data of Fans

Combine Pages Liked by People Who Like Your Page With Audience Insights

When researching potential audiences for advertising, take note of the types of Facebook pages they like. Pages provide insight into the brands and businesses an audience likes, as well as their interests and hobbies.

Type “pages liked by people who like X page” into the search bar. These can be people who already like your page or people who like the page of a competitor. This enables you to research your competition and their fans, determine the types of pages those fans are interested in and learn the interests of this specific audience.

graph search results

Type “pages liked by people who like X page” into the Facebook search bar to find your audience’s other interests.

You can target Facebook advertising based on pages the audience has liked. So if you are a local pizza restaurant going up against a much larger brand down the street, easily research key interests of that brand’s audience and use that information to create successful ads.

Take note of multiple pages from Graph Search results. Then, cross-reference them on Facebook Audience Insights. Of course, not all of the results from Graph Search will be available for research under Audience Insights, but you can cross-reference many beneficial sources.

audience insights results

Compare your Graph Search results with Audience Insights to better target potential fans.

Here is where the magic happens. Take notice of key elements such as age and gender, device usage, income, household size and purchase behavior. Use this information to improve your Facebook advertising ROI.

You may also find some additional pages of interest to this specific audience. For example, MOZ did not appear in Graph Search in the illustration above, but is listed as a top-rated page among this audience in Audience Insights. That kind of information is crucial for targeting.

#2: Look at Fans by Location

Combine Pages Liked by People Who Like X Page Who Live in X City With Audience Insights

For location-specific Facebook advertising, focus on specific cities and zip codes with Graph Search. Type into Facebook search “pages liked by people who like Social Media Examiner who live in X city.” To further narrow your search, combine multiple pages liked.

graph search city results

Add a city to the search for “pages liked by a page” for location-specific businesses.

For example, Graph Search gives incredibly specific responses that show the exact interests and pages of only the residents of a specific city who also are interested in Social Media Examiner. This type of data is invaluable and can dramatically alter the course of your advertising.

When you cross-reference the information from Graph Search with Audience Insights, you notice that Social Media Examiner’s fans in Gilbert, Arizona (my hometown) are 11% as likely to have a larger family than most Facebook users and 12% as likely to be homeowners. This might seem inconsequential, but when gathering data to better understand your audience for advertising, it’s imperative to know whom you are talking to.

audience insights results

Cross-reference location-based information with your Audience Insights to get a better understanding of the relevant demographics.

Use this data to select more relevant ad images or craft ad text that touches on the true emotions of your target audience based on where they live. For example, the interests of those who live in Gilbert, Arizona differ from those who live in Manhattan.

Those subtle details and data can be used to improve Facebook targeting.

#3: Research Occupation by Location

Combine Pages Liked by an Occupation in a Location With Audience Insights

Alternatively, focus on the occupation of a target audience to gain insights.

For example, if you are based in Los Angeles, California and have a product that targets veterinarians, search for pages of interest to them. Type “pages liked by (occupation) who live in (location)” into Facebook search.

graph search results

Search for the pages liked by a certain occupation in a specific location to gain a better understanding of that audience.

Next, go to Facebook Audience Insights and cross-reference those pages shown in the Graph Results. You will be able to browse a wealth of information on the ages, household size and income, family size, device use, interests and more pages these people are interested in.

Once you gain a greater understanding of your audience, you will be able to create more pertinent advertising.

Put Audience Data Into Action

All of the information gathered from Graph Search and Audience Insights can now be integrated into a highly successful and effective advertising campaign.

Let’s translate the veterinarian example above into targeting for an effective Facebook ad campaign.

Start by targeting the age demographic, based on what Audience Insights says about veterinarians in Los Angeles.

age gender audience insights results

The data to start with when looking at Audience Insights is age and gender.

Next, look at the relationship status and education level of those in your target audience. This audience is mostly single with a college education or above.

relationship and education audience insights results

Look at relationship status and education level to learn more about your audience.

Also, enter multiple pages found in Graph Search and Audience Insights into the Interests box.

Finally, look at the Lifestyle category under Audience Insights to find key terms to describe the largest percentage of your audience.

Are these LA veterinarians Savvy Singles or Soccer and SUVs? Who they are will influence the way you speak to them and what types of creative elements belong in your campaign.

lifestyle audience insights results

The Established Elite lifestyle category has the highest percentage in this audience. Create an ad that speaks to educated people with disposable income and no children.

If your audience tends to be comprised of Savvy Singles, an image that is modern and in motion might have a greater appeal. For an audience of Soccer and SUVs, consider an image with families in your ad.

There’s so much information available from Facebook on who your fans are and what they like. You just need to do the research, put it all together and create a successful Facebook ad that speaks to them.

What do you think? How do you research your target audience? Have you combined Facebook’s Graph Search with Audience Insights? What sorts of combinations have you tried? Has Facebook ad targeting been successful for you? Please share your experience and recommendations in the comments.

how to use facebook ad targeting

Tips for using Facebook ad targeting.

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  • treb072410

    Thanks for sharing a great tip Kandice. Very helpful..

  • Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • shikha mahnot

    It was indeed a great idea to implement facebook ads. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Neil Tyra

    When I type Type “pages liked by people who like Social Media Examiner page” into the search bar just as shown above, just as shown, I get no results. What am I missing?

  • Hi Neil! Well, I’m not entirely sure. If you copy and post “pages liked by people who like Social Media Examiner page” into your search bar on Facebook, you should be taken to a page showing a short list of results with “See More” as an option. What exactly do you see when you try the search?

  • Sandy Gas

    This hasn’t ever worked for me. I’m wondering if it has something to do with being in Australia?

  • myhoatrung

    Hey Bro, can you give me a link that you get after typing “pages liked by people who like Social Media Examiner who live in X city” thanks a lot! My email is:

  • myhoatrung

    Hey Bro, I try it many times but have no results. Can you give me the link that you get from typing “pages liked by people who like Social Media Examiner who live in X city”, please. My email is:

  • Aaron Grunstein

    Really interesting article. When I do a search of “pages liked by people who like X and live in Y” I can scroll down for an endless number of results. They seem to be completely random. Do you know if there is an order to the results? How do you know which pages to choose to cross reference in Audience Insights?

  • Dhavina Chomroo

    Hi, I am having the same issue, when I type “pages liked by people who like X page”, I don’t get any results. Your post is very useful, I’d like to be able to implement it. Kindly advise. Thanks

  • Lorraine Scapens

    Hi thanks for this but I’m having exactly the same issue too in New Zealand?

  • treb072410

    What do you mean?

  • Thank you for reading!

  • Great question! Try combining multiple pages ‘liked’ to focus your search even more. Then simply play around with the combinations, as well as the combinations on Audience Insights, to determine the best audience for ad targeting. You’ll need to run some A/B testing in FB Ads to truly narrow down your audience, but these strategies will help you to do that with greater success. Thanks Aaron!

  • It does seem that you must be using Facebook in English: “top right hand corner click the language and set to English US most people get it straight away but it can take up to 3-5 days.”

  • Hello Lorraine. Please see the above image and comment about language settings. Thanks so much for reading the article!

  • Neil Tyra

    Well, I found the answer. It works if you paste the query into the search box when you are signed into FB on your personal account i.e. Neil Tyra.
    When I do the exact same thing today (right down to copying and pasting the exact same words) when using the FB account as The Tyra Law Firm (my professional page) it does not return any results.

  • There you go! Exactly! Yes Facebook Graph Search will not work from a business account. Glad you got it working, now have fun with it!

  • Lorraine Scapens

    Hi Thanks have got a thread coming up now but its only my page? Will this change in a few days thanks Lin

  • Aaron Grunstein

    Thanks for your reply.

  • myhoatrung

    After typing “pages liked by people who like Social Media Examiner who live in X city”, you’ll see a page thats contain a lot of pages. Can you copy the URL of this for me, please?

  • Nice guide on Advanced FB Targeting Kandice, liked the way you have bisected your audience with different locations and professions. I usually start by making different audience sets through the audience insight tool, this way I can understand which type of audience would be more interested in a certain post on my page, and I can target them through audience targeting feature in the post. Anyways, totally appreciated your style 🙂

  • Gladys

    The searches don’t work for me. Is it only for US residents?

  • Sally

    Hello! #1 did not work for me. Do you need to change the search settings?

  • According to Facebook, yes. If not, let’s put our heads together and figure it out!

  • Absolutely! Thanks Salman!

  • Facebook requires that you have your language settings to English and it seems like, from what we’re learning from this thread, that the country might also have to be the U.S.

  • This is related to boosted posts, but as there was great conversation and resources shared in the comment section of this post, I’m hoping someone might be able to help me. I’ve used Facebook’s option to target specific audiences when boosting posts for a while, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve only been able to target fans and fans and friends of fans. Any idea why this is happening?

  • Pawan Mandav

    @Kandice- Your article is really useful but i put same line which you mentioned above like “pages liked by people who like ……….. ” but didn’t receive any result. please suggest.

  • This does seem to be an issue for those outside of the U.S, those who do not have ‘English’ as their main language in settings, and those who are trying the Graph Search from their Business Page.

  • I suspect this might have something to do with your settings. Did anything change within your settings or on your page around the time that you noticed your Graph Search results changed?

  • I am fairly new to facebook ads and this article definitely helped me. Will try it out soon. Thanks.

  • Sarah Truman

    Hi, i cant get this to work in australia is this just a us option?

  • Teeez

    Hey Kandice

    Thanks for this article very helpful I do have one question with some of the string queries particularly from the interests perspective

    eg interests of people who like x page
    pages liked by people who like Social Media Examiner who live in X city.
    pages liked by people who like X page

    Now are the results the general common interests amongst that audience or do the results pertain specifically to each individual.

    e.g. let’s say its: interests of people who like ‘Johns Pies’
    Lets say there are 5 people for ease
    The results come up as: bakery, music, lady gaga, football,

    Do these interests that come up represent commonalities among the 5 people (they all have these interests?)

    Or is it one person has bakery as an interest, another has music as an interest, another football, another lady gaga?

  • Teeez

    Hey Sarah have you got it to work if not its probably because you haven’t set your language to English US go to your settings top right of Facebook and you can do it from there.

    Then the search should work

  • Hi Teez! From what I know, the results pertain to each specific individual. The results you see are the interests of the specific people who like x page, for example.

  • Teeez

    Hi Lin

    Yea that’s what I thought ofcourse it would be too easy if Facebook made it that simple for us. Thanks a lot for this it rocks.

  • Nicolle

    Ah but when it is from your personal account does it is only dissecting information from your own Facebook friends who also follow the named page? I am doing this wrong?

  • It won’t pull information from Private accounts….


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