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social media toolsDo you have a Facebook page?

Do you want more organic engagement for your posts?

Facebook recently added a feature to let you specify the audiences most likely to engage with each Facebook page post, based on interests.

In this post I’ll show you how to use the new Facebook Audience Optimization feature to increase engagement for your Facebook page posts with specific audiences.

Why Use Facebook Audience Optimization?

The first question you may have about any new feature on social media is why should you use it? When it comes to Facebook Audience Optimization, there are several reasons.

facebook audience optimization for marketers

Discover what marketers need to know about Facebook Audience Optimization.

  • Facebook takes hundreds of things into account in their algorithm to determine whether someone will like and engage with a post from your Facebook page. Using Facebook Audience Optimization will help Facebook’s algorithm determine the right audience for your posts.
  • It will allow you to tell Facebook who should not see your post. For example, if you know you’re about to post something that will receive a negative reaction from men, you can restrict the post to be shown to women only.
  • It will allow you to learn more about how people with specific interests engage with your posts. If you knew that your fans who are interested in hiking are the most engaged with your posts, you would know to post more about hiking for better engagement.
facebook audience optimization engagement

Higher engagement can be found with Audience Optimization.

Facebook specifies that in tests, Audience Optimization doesn’t increase the organic reach of your Facebook page posts. But it does increase engagement.

Theoretically, without Audience Optimization, Facebook will show your post on a specific topic to a random 5% of your fans, some of whom may or may not be interested in that topic. This can result in low engagement.

With Audience Optimization, Facebook may be more inclined to show your post on a specific topic to 5% of your fans who are interested in that topic, based on your specifications. This would ideally result in better engagement.

And of course, if more people engage with your posts because they match their interests, your posts would start to appear in their news feeds more often due to their engagement. So it could result in a boost in organic reach over time.

Enable Facebook Audience Optimization

This feature is currently rolling out to English-language pages in select categories, such as the Websites > News / Media Websites category. To see if it’s available for yours, go to your Facebook page’s Settings.

facebook page settings

Check if Facebook Audience Optimization is available on your Page by going to Settings.

Or if you’re using Facebook Business Manager, it will look like this.

facebook business page settings

In Business Manager, your Page Setting can be found here.

Look for Audience Optimization for Posts in General Settings and click the Edit link.

facebook audience optimization for posts

Click the Edit link for the Audience Optimization for Posts in your general settings.

Check the box to turn Facebook Audience Optimization on.

facebook audience optimization for posts settings on

Check the box to turn Facebook Audience Optimization for Posts on and Save Changes.

Access Facebook Audience Optimization

Once enabled, you can go to your Facebook page’s update box and see an icon for Facebook Audience Optimization.

facebook audience optimization for posts update box

Once enabled, you will see an icon for Facebook Audience Optimization on the update box of your Page.

You will also see the same icon if you’re using your Facebook page’s Publishing Tools.

facebook audience optimization for posts icon

You will also see the same icon if you’re using your Facebook page’s Publishing Tools.

Start by entering your Facebook post. Then click on the Audience Optimization icon. You should see Preferred Audience, NOT News Feed Targeting. (If you see News Feed Targeting, then you don’t have the new Audience Optimization feature.)

Next, configure your Preferred Audience by telling Facebook about the audience’s interests. These are the same interests you would find when targeting an audience in Facebook Ads.

As you type in interests, Facebook will show those it thinks you’re targeting. Facebook will also let you see your estimated reach for each interest.

facebook audience optimization preferred audience interests

As you type in interests, Facebook will show you those it thinks you’re targeting.

Your Preferred Audience interest selections will not limit the people who can see your post, but rather will tell Facebook that this is your preferred audience to see your post. You can optionally configure Audience Restrictions to tell Facebook who not to show your posts to.

facebook preferred audience

You can also configure Audience Restrictions to tell Facebook who not to show your posts.

When you’re finished, click Save. Your post should look like this.

facebook audience optimization example post

An example of what your finished post should look like.

After you hit Publish, you will notice that where you normally see the globe icon to indicate public visibility, you will see a settings wheel icon instead. When you hover over it, you will see the Audience Optimization settings you configured.

facebook audience optimization published post

Where you normally see the globe icon to indicate public visibility, you’ll see a wheel icon instead.

People who are not admins of your Facebook page will only see that it’s set to Public in the visibility settings.

facebook audience optimization public visibility settings

The general Facebook audience will only see that your post is set to Public in the visibility settings.

Preferred Audience and Audience Restrictions settings are currently only available on the desktop browser version of Facebook, select third-party social media management tools like SocialFlow and Sprinklr, and tags for Instant Articles.

Track Engagement Based on Interests

To find out how specific audiences engage with your post based on interests, visit your Facebook page’s Insights.

facebook audience optimization for posts insights

Track your audience engagement based on specific interests in your Facebook Page insights.

You should see your post with a special icon under the Targeting column to indicate that you have selected a Preferred Audience for that post.

facebook audience optimization for special icon

A special icon under the Targeting column indicates that you have selected Preferred Audiences for that post.

When you click on the post, you will see your usual Post Details along with a tab for Preferred Audience.

facebook audience optimization post details

You will see your usual Post Details along with a tab for Preferred Audience information.

Unfortunately, you will need to wait until your post has reached at least 100 people.

facebook audience optimization stats availablitity

This feature is only available once your post has reached at least 100 people.

When it does, you will see stats for each Interest audience.

facebook audience optimization stats

Once your post has reached at least 100 people, you’ill see stats for each Interest audience.

The downside from here is that to see data for link clicks, shares, and likes, you must also have 100 link shares, 100 shares, and 100 likes for the corresponding data. Once your post hits those milestones, you should receive some interesting insights into the interests of your most engaged audience.

Tips for Using Audience Optimization

Facebook offers a list of best practices when it comes to Audience Optimization. Here are some of the best tips.

  • Think of Audience Optimization as defining your audience, not a list of keywords. Facebook recommends 6 to 10 total interest tags.
  • Think of both broad and narrow interests that your target audience may have that relate to your post, but don’t go too broad. For example, if you have a post about music, you will want to select Music as the interest, not Entertainment.
  • Think of the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of your story when selecting interests.
  • Think of interests that are people, places, organizations, software, tools, brands, etc., that your target audience would like.
  • Think of specific things that your target audience would be interested in. For example, if your post or the content you share in your post mentions CareerBuilder or job hunting in general (even without mentioning CareerBuilder), you could still use CareerBuilder as an interest.
  • Think of related interests when specific ones are not available. For example, if your post or the content you share in your post mentions an actor, but that actor doesn’t appear as an interest, use shows or movies that actor has been in as interests instead.
  • Think of location tags that relate to your story or the post you’re sharing.

If you go through the above tips, you should be able to come up with a few interests for each of your posts.

In Conclusion

As with most new features, only time will tell whether they’re effective. When the goal is increased organic engagement (and potentially increased organic reach long-term), it never hurts to give it a try.

What do you think? Have you used Facebook Audience Optimization on your page posts yet? If so, be sure to let us know how it works in the comments!

what marketers need to know about facebook audience optimization feature

Tips for marketers to use Facebook Audience Optimization feature.

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  • Great post, thanks for sharing! Finally we have this ability, long time coming 🙂

  • Very interesting. WiIl this be possible through a social media manager like HootSuite or Buffer?

  • I’m not sure if it is. Facebook noted two tools that have it, so hopefully others can implement it too. 🙂

  • Thanks Paul! 🙂

  • Hi Kristi, Thank you for sharing this information, Audience optimisation for posts setting looked more controlled and relevant and quite simple to implement 🙂 .

  • Thanks for posting. Really interesting and informative news for Facebook optimization. I definitely try this features. Keep updating about new features of Facebook. Looking forward for your next blog.

  • Ahmad Dohjoka

    Hi Kristi – Nice post. However, I have to point out one thing. You said that Audience Optimization will allow you to tell Facebook who should not see your post. For example, if you know you’re about to post something that will receive a negative reaction from men, you can restrict the post to be shown to women only, but on Facebook it says:

    With Preferred Audience, interest tags help prioritize posts that are most likely to be engaging for a person without limiting visibility for others.

    Is Audience Optimization different from Preferred Audience?

  • Hi Kristi,

    Thanks for sharing this useful article. But I have a question. When I have done this, the audience optimization option didn’t appear. Is it that, this option is not available for all profile? or this feature is reflecting slowly?

  • There’s a second tab for Audience Restrictions that allows you to do this. It’s optional. 🙂

  • It’s based on your page category. Mine worked because my page is under Media Websites. 🙂

  • Thanks Kevin! 🙂

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • Sounds like it’s a gradual roll-out, Jose. Earlier in the article Kristi mentions “This feature is currently rolling out to English-language pages in select categories, such as the Websites > News / Media Websites category. To see if it’s available for yours, go to your Facebook page’s Settings.” (This is located just underneath the ‘Enable Facebook Audience Optimization’ section.

    Chances are if this functionality is not currently available to you, it will be soon.

  • You need at least 5000 likes on the page, before you get this option. I got excited about it until i realized I don’t have enough likes yet on the page I was interested in implementing this on.

  • It might be more to do with your page category than the number of likes. I tried this on two pages (one with over 5,000 likes and only 1 like) under the Website / Media category and it worked on both.

  • Jenny Evans

    Hi there, really useful article. My client has made me editor of his Facebook page, but he remains the admin. Is it only admins who can implement this on their page?

  • Always great reading your stuff, Kristi! I see some discussion on it not being available to all pages. I ran some tests on 3 pages I manage and there seems to be more than just a category to enable the feature.

    On page 1, the category was set to “Website: business/economy” which was auto enabled. The same went for page 2 set as public figure.

    The third page was set up as a “website: personal blog”. The option for audience optimization wasn’t available. So I went ahead and changed the public figure page to a business/economy page which made the audience optimization feature disappear. Hmmm.. Changed it back to public figure and it’s set again.

    On the third page, no matter which category I change it to, there is no option for audience optimization. Seems more like a gradual roll out with a few considerations to take into account.

  • Gloria

    Hi.

    This is a nice article. However, i went on my page checked setting but i do not see this feature. When scheduling a post i see it but it shows target. Does it mean Facebook doesn’t provide this option for every page? Would appreciate a response on this.

    Thanks.

  • Admins have to change the settings – the optimization option should be available to anyone who can post to the page once it’s turned on though.

  • It is specifically rolling out to English pages that are under the News/Media Websites category from what I can tell. I tried my main page and a brand new one, and it worked on both.

  • It is specifically rolling out to English pages that are under the News/Media Websites category from what I can tell. I tried my main page and a brand new one, and it worked on both. As with most Facebook features, it’s probably rolling out slowly and selectively…

  • Thanks for the tip. Just tried on page 3 and the feature still doesn’t come out. It is in English and has just over 11k likes on the page. Strange…

  • Diego Lazaro

    Incredible and very useful post Kristi!!! Thank you very much!!

  • Marisa Moon

    Awesome thanks for the detailed steps & photos!

  • Bob Clarke

    Thanks Kristi… that was awesome. Can’t wait to start using this new feature!

  • Kristi, Thanks for this, you are always so very thorough with your research.

  • Ok.. Thank you so much.. 🙂

  • I also feel so… May be it will be available after some time.

    Thank you so much .. 🙂

  • Safarikas

    It’s funny that in the US this setting is new. In Belgium we use that functionality from years now ; maybe because from the beginning we have 3 different language in the same country… But it is a good reminder for all of us ! Thanks for sharing

  • You’re welcome Diego! 🙂

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • You’re welcome Bob! 🙂

  • Really? The preferred audience…

  • You’re welcome Dave! 🙂

  • This is lovely and really great!! Just did with my first post and will track the result later.

  • Geri Lafferty

    I manage one page with only 117 likes and the option is availbale as it is on the larger pages.

  • Geri Lafferty

    We have 2 pages that are “Brands & Products : Product/Service” and it’s available. The other is “books and magazines” and it’s not.

  • Interesting. Definitely giving it a try, I just activated it in my settings.

  • Donna Allen

    Thank you for writing a detailed 411. Would this be different for those that only want Blog label ?
    Reason I ask is that. I share out others content mixed with some of mine. The source of where I learn best.

  • You’re welcome! Anyone can use this for any kind of status update. It’s especially good for those that share content as you can optimize the target audience for the topic of the content. 🙂

  • Diane Solander Thomas

    Thanks for a well-written and extremely useful post! I will try it now on a page I manage. If I do not select any interests for a particular post that I think is generally interesting, and the audience optimization is on, will it go out as normal?

  • Yes. You can just use interests when you have something that you’d like to optimize. The rest of the time, you can post like you always have. 🙂

  • Binu

    Hi Kristi
    My page falls under media/news/publishing , yet i dont see this tool in my settings

  • Binu

    hi sue
    how did you activate it in your settings

  • Hi,
    If you read the post, it shows exactly where to turn it on in your Facebook settings. it’s really easy!
    Thanks,
    Sue

  • Good info, many thanks!

  • I noticed that on some pages with larger audiences, it’s automatically enabled and can’t be disabled. Check to see if your posts box has the audience optimization feature.

  • Thank you Kristi for the great article and the step by step tutorial on how to get started with this new feature. This will be very helpful for me and my audience. I will share this article with them.

  • Geoff Brandt

    Great tip. Question: after choosing my audience, is there a way to save those selections so I don’t have to go through the choosing process again for a similarly targeted post?

  • Not with the Audience Optimization unfortunately. They have that option for ad audiences, so hopefully they come up with the option for this feature as well.

  • camilla corradini

    Great article, unfortunately I do not see this feature on my page. Can you tell me if is it still available only for select categories, such as the Websites > News / Media Websites category? Thank you.

  • Etienne Kern

    Hey, very interesting post. Thanks for this. Quick question, with this tool do you think there is a way to try A/B testing a post?

    Let’s say I want to try two versions of my post one with picture A and the other with picture B. Now, is there a way to play around with the audience optimization tool and see which picture works the best?

  • I know you can do that with ads, but I’m not sure you can do that with organic posts unfortunately. Basically, you would end up with two posts on your page with two different pictures, one optimized for one audience, one optimized for the other. That would be a neat idea though!

  • I’m actually noticing the option for more page types now. I have pages that are listed under the Photographer, Local Business, and Company categories that have the option. Have you looked under your Page Settings to see if you have enabled this setting?

  • Etienne Kern

    Yes, if there was a way to hide a post to a certain audience that would be interesting. Alright, thanks for your answer Kristi!