social media how toWish your Facebook page had better engagement?

Do you want a way to get more post interaction without advertising?

Using the Facebook Targeting for organic posts puts your updates in front of the people who are more likely to share, like or comment on them.

In this article I’ll compare the results of using the Facebook Targeting feature for both a small and a large Facebook Page.

What Is Targeting?

You may be familiar with Facebook ad targeting, but did you know you can also target any of your posts to a certain demographic?

use organic post targeting

Discover how to use organic Facebook organic post targeting.

Targeting on Facebook posts has actually been around since the middle of 2012, but not everyone has used it. With the decline in Facebook page reach, post targeting may be a feature you need to start using regularly to get your posts in front of the right audience.

In addition to general demographics (i.e., gender, age, relationship, educational status, location and language), there are a few more options for targeting your page posts.

For example, you can target your posts to users who have specific interests. While the Interests option is more limited than Facebook ads, it’s still quite useful. You can also specify the time and day you want your post to stop showing organically in the news feed (this is the post end date).

targeting icon

To use targeting on a post, select the target icon.

With targeting, the only thing affected is who sees the post in the news feed. Only users with the target parameters will see the post in their feed. However, the post is still visible to everyone on your page timeline. If you’re sending the same type of post to multiple targets, you can always hide the posts from your timeline to avoid repetition.

One thing to know about the Facebook Targeting feature is that you must target more than 20 people. If you have a small fan base, restricting your posts may bring you below the minimum requirement.

[Editor’s Note: For the purpose of this article, Social Media Examiner was used as the large page and Grandma Mary – Social Media Edutainer was used as the small page.]

Set Up Targeting

Regardless of how many fans you have, all pages have the Targeting option. If you don’t have the target symbol in your post area, you can enable it by going into your page Settings. From there, it’s just four easy steps:

1. Click Settings. Make sure you’re in the General tab on the left sidebar (available to admins only).
2. Select Targeting and Privacy for Posts.
3. Check Allow targeting and privacy options when I create posts on my page.
4. Save your changes.

enable targeting

Enable targeting on your page.

Back on your post, when you select a category to target, you either set your targeting choices right within the post area, or in some cases, a popup box appears to make your selection. If you want, you can select multiple targeting categories.

targeting options

You can select different targeting options.

Only admins of the page will see that you have added targeting to the post—no one else will see the targeting options.

#1: Define Targets

Social Media Examiner decided to test Facebook’s Targeting feature to see how it performed. I’ll share what we did and how we did it so you can replicate the experiment for your own page.

We wanted to answer the following questions:

Does targeting page posts lead to more engagement?
Does one target group respond better than another?
Does targeting work better for a larger page or a smaller page?

Since we were interested in whether targeting would be more effective for a large or small fan base, we compared the Social Media Examiner Facebook page with a smaller page with a similar type of audience. Social Media Examiner has close to 330,000 fans and the smaller page has a little over 16,000 fans.

We used the same posts, same target interests and similar posting times on both pages to keep the test consistent.

target shutterstock 212550490

There are multiple targeting options. Image from Shutterstock.

Choose Posts

Choose the posts you want to target and test. You can choose new posts or successful posts you’ve already shared.

For our purposes, we chose two posts about Facebook marketing: 8 Ways to Use Facebook Video for More Engagement and 15 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ads. Both were articles that had similar performance when previously posted on the Social Media Examiner page.

We alternated articles each day so we wouldn’t overwhelm fans with multiple targeted posts.

Decide on Targets

Next, determine what demographics and/or interests you want to target. Your Facebook Insights will give you a wealth of data you can use to decide which options you want.

We targeted three separate interest groups (I’m including a snapshot of the organic reach for each):

For Group 1, we used interests that included high-profile social media professionals:

Estimated organic reach of Social Media Examiner: 86,000
Estimated organic reach of smaller page: 8,000

multiple targeting options

Type in the interests you want to target.

For Group 2, we targeted our top countries (based on our Insights) that were outside the United States. We posted later in the evening to match their daytime hours. The countries we targeted were:

  • United Kingdom
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • India
  • Egypt
  • South Africa
  • Australia

Estimated organic reach of Social Media Examiner: 80,000
Estimated organic reach of smaller page: 2,400

For Group 3, we used specific Facebook topics:

  • Facebook for Business
  • Facebook Developer

Estimated organic reach of Social Media Examiner: 116,000
Estimated organic reach of smaller page: 7,400

Choose your own targets based on your audience and goals.

#2: Measure Engagement Rate

After you’ve posted your articles to your target audiences, take a look at your engagement rate, which is the number of people who comment, like, share or click on a post divided by the reach of the post.

To find your engagement rate, go to Insights > Posts, then select Engagement Rate from the drop-down menu.

facebook engagement insights

Compare engagement rates of your posts to get a more accurate picture of performance.

With targeting your reach may be smaller, but the percentage of people who respond may be higher.

Looking at the Social Media Examiner Insights, you can see that some targeted posts definitely had higher engagement than posts that didn’t use targeting. How did yours do?

facebook engagement by posts

The posts that had targeting received higher engagement rates in some cases.

Now let’s dive deeper to find answers to the questions we posed at the beginning of the test.

#3: Analyze Results

To make it easier to analyze your results, download the data into a spreadsheet and take a look at the page post data. We had to do some rearranging to answer the questions we proposed at the beginning of our experiment, and you may need to as well.

We realize that this experiment is just a sampling and not statistically accurate in terms of sample size. Use this exercise to show how you could do this experiment yourself.

Does Targeting Page Posts Lead to More Engagement?

To find the answer, look at the average engagement rate over the week of your experiment. Ours was 4.25%.

In the spreadsheet below, the posts we showed to the targeted groups are highlighted.

social media examiner engagement

Social Media Examiner’s engagement rate was in line with the other posts.

You can see that many posts were right in line with the 4.25% engagement rate. Some of the targeted posts didn’t even result in less reach compared to the non-targeted posts.

small page engagement

The smaller page did see higher engagement rates for targeted posts.

But when we looked at the smaller page (the spreadsheet above), the average engagement rate was 5.33% and three of the six posts saw significantly higher engagement.

Does One Target Group Respond Better Than Another?

For this question, we got some mixed results since we had such a small test group. For the groups we targeted, we found a higher-than-average engagement rate for both pages.

engagement comparison

The targeted groups did have higher-than-average engagement rates.

The Europe and Countries target group was lower on the Social Media Examiner page, but it was higher in one case on the smaller page. The Facebook for Business group was about average on the Social Media Examiner page and lower on the smaller page.

Consider exploring this more for your own page to see if the results are higher.

Does Targeting Work Better for a Larger Page or a Smaller Page?

Results show the smaller page responded quite well to targeting. The Social Media Examiner page will continue to experiment.

Go through your own results. If you maintain the same engagement rate or get a slightly better one, you’re coming out ahead.

Using Facebook targeting is a free way to get more engagement on your Facebook page by showing your posts to people who are more likely to be interested in that topic. Continue to explore and try new things. To reach your ideal customer, use targeting and see what results you get.

What do you think? Have you tried Facebook organic post targeting for your posts? If so, what results did you see? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Target icon photo from Shutterstock.
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  • Very good post. Did you discover if Facebook increased the post’s reach if target details were provided? That is, with the drastic reduction of reach for organic posts, i wonder if providing targeting information would help increase exposure.

  • Godwin Enerio

    Thanks for the article.

    We tried that one but with the way it constricted the number of organic reach, we dropped it. Sure the ER will increase with a lower reach base. With the current FB control of organic reach we just disregarded experimenting with this feature.

  • My experience with using geo and age targeting with organic posts on a page with 100K Likes has been absolutely DISMAL. A-B testing has shown that no matter what audience targeting I use, the result reach is always a mere fraction (sometimes in single digits) of what the “shotgun” (no targeting) approach. The only way geotargeting has worked for us is with advertising (of course!)

  • Daniel Soto

    Interesting Article, thanks. Do you know if Organic Targeting could work with Buffer, Postplanner, Postcorn or similar?

  • Pingback: How to Use Facebook Organic Post Targeting | Social Savvy Business()

  • That was the interesting thing – some of the posts had more reach even with the smaller target audience. So we are going to continue with our experiments in targeting. Thanks!

  • Thanks for sharing! I think it depends on your page size too. I would recommend revisiting it again!

  • No you have to use this feature within Facebook. Thanks for your comment!

  • Guest

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  • Thanks for sharing your experience – so interesting that your reach was so low. We didn’t find that on either page size. Definitely ads are the way to go for guaranteed targeting:)

  • Good to know!!

  • Amazing article on Facebook Organic Reach, Andrea can you clarify one thing here, is it going to target the audience of our page only?

  • Yes Salman – it is only targeting a subset of your total Page Likes. So you don’t want to restrict it too far and it will show you the estimated reach. Hope that helps and thanks for your question!

  • John Stalle

    Great article, Andrea! Question: do you know how large a page has to be in order for the organic targeting feature to be enabled? I manage a few pages that have less than 5,000 fans and don’t have access to the targeting feature. Thanks!

  • Darren Bennett

    Any page can turn it on. I just turned it on for a page that has a mere 440 page likes.

  • Darren Bennett

    I found this article incredibly interesting. I immediately told my colleagues and we got talking. By targeting (or restricting as they saw it) the reach/exposure of the post aren’t you missing out on people who maybe work in your target city rather than live there? Also what about friends who may not live in the target city but would comment another friends name to draw their attention to the post? – now the original friend won’t even see the post.

    Additionally, what data is the targeting using? Is it going by ‘current address’? When I selected UK the reach dropped from 440 to 380 (it seems unlikely we have 60 fans overseas – we’re a devon based car dealership). I think for a page our size we want everyone and anyone who already liked us to see what we’re saying, maybe when we’re at a larger size we can use targeting for specific city based offers and such but it is tricky. The same with ‘interests’ targeting; what data is Facebook using for this? I don’t recall or know what my ‘interests’ are on my Facebook profile…

  • Thank you for sharing, Darren! You’ve raised lots of thoughtful questions.

  • Weronika

    After listening to one of your podcasts (I guess the one with John Loomer) I tried targeting with various types of pages – the smaller and bigger ones, some with quite good reach and engagement or with poor reach. It worked really well with a page with nice reach but too poor engagement – it influenced both. But the best was with the poor reach&engagement site. It affected reach. Now I’m working on engaging fans a bit more. Still – it is great oportunity when you don’t have much money to spend on campaigns. And also… it’s FUN 🙂

  • Guest

    Try freelancing from your couch at home a­nd receive a weekly check… By completing basic jobs you get online… I do this 3hours a day, for 5 da­ys in week an­­d I earn in this way an extra thousand bucks e­ach wee­k…>>>>>>>

  • Harish

    Fantastic post. I really liked it.

  • LIna

    HI, I have a questions, if every post I use the feature, dose it lead to facebook block my account or someone will report my account?

  • Excellent post. Start up companies rarely think that Facebook is in any way useful but this article shows that Facebook targeting is 100% admissible.

  • Lowri McNabb

    Hi. I was wondering if you then Boost or Promote that post using Ads Manager – is it still only boosted to the Targeted Audience? Thanks 🙂

  • Jody King

    Huge thank you for the post! I am looking forward to messing about with this and seeing if I can increase our online engagement! 🙂

  • Suzanne Willett

    The closest I have to this in my page settings is limiting it to a country and the language spoken.

  • Su Ying

    Hello, Andrea. About the facebook organic post targeting, I am wondering if there is API provided by Facebook? Thank you much.

  • Yes Feed targeting is available through the API:

  • Ashley Stafford

    Is this feature not available to all pages, or is there something else that affects it, like page “type”? We manage 11 business pages, but I just checked and only 5 of them have this option in their settings.

  • Su Ying

    Thank you for the reply, Andrea!

  • Maddan R Saawant

    Hi I have done organic targeting of post. Basically i have targeted post to specific page. By doing this, the potential reach is 0-20 which is too low to reach out the audience I want to reach. So i am thinking of boosting this post. but i am clueless whether it will go the specifically targeted post or other then that. while boosting post, i see the default audience setting is different then the interest targeting (Specific page). so pls advise how i can maximize the reach of post within targeted page.

  • Daniel

    It would be interesting to try on our page as well. We are a little smaller than yours with around 201k followers. I know that our audience is predominately women 45-65+. I’ll do some tests and get back to you.

  • bootnoxer

    On one of my Pages, dont have the ” Targeting and Privacy for Posts” option

  • Hello! Do you know if the targeting option has changed for organic posts? I’m not seeing a targeting button and the walk-through for enabling it in my settings doesn’t mirror what I see when I do it.

  • Lili Jászberényi


    In my settings, this is the name of the button you have to enable: News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts

  • Wendy Clow

    Thank you so much for your reply, Lili. (I’m the same person as XanEdu – that’s my company.) I’m still having trouble, though. How do you get to News Feed Audience? I’m not finding it anywhere in the settings.

  • Marius Bružas

    Wendy, if you are the admin of the page, then on the left menu (after you click on Settings) you see the General tab. Then among selections it opens on the page, there is News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts – enable it and you’ll get targeting option on the post.

  • Amanda

    In my settings it actually called it “News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts” I was unsure but checked this box and the target option came up in my Posts.

  • Drew Mochrie

    Facebook likes to troll us all the time — it is now ‘Audience Optimization for Posts’