Curious about sponsored content on Facebook, but scared to try it? Here is one of the best reasons to quit worrying and start doing. Audience targeting.
The opposite of audience targeting is a billboard. You pay a lot of money to run a big ad on the side of the road. You have no clear data about who sees the ad, how many views it gets, or what actions people take after they see it. You can only guess. The same goes for many other types of offline, disruptive advertising methods.
The benefit of sponsored content on Facebook is abundant. One of the clearest benefits is the ability to specify who sees your ad, thus increasing your potential ROI. After you master Sponsored Content 101, you can then move on to remarketing prospects who have been on your website, but that is a topic for another time. And if you prefer really diving into this topic, check out our on-demand webinar Secrets of Advanced Social Media Advertising.
Now, let's get into your options for targeting specific types of people on Facebook.
Choose Your Audience
Yes, it's as simple as choosing your audience based on demographics. Most Facebook users have demographic information attached to their profiles. Facebook lets you select who sees your sponsored content based on those demographics.
You can target by country, county/region, town/city, and even by zip code. If you have a hyperlocal business, dialing in on your market location is key. There's no need to serve up an ad to anyone who lives outside your region. This saves you money and makes sure your ad is only seen by your target market.
That said, if you do want to broaden your reach, you can experiment by widening your location settings a little at a time to see the results. If you start out with a very broad location setting, say the United States, and you notice a poor click thru or conversion rate, try tightening up your location settings or creating specific ads for different regions.
Age, Gender, Language
These are mostly self-explanatory demographics, but let's look at Age because you do have some restrictions here. You can't target under the age of 13. The max age range is 65+ so you can't do an age range of 65 to 80-year-olds, for example.
You can even do a little magic called "Birthday Targeting" which you can learn more about here.
You can target by interest as well. These interests are pulled from the Page Likes connected to the user's profile, as well as the apps they use on Facebook. Select these interests by browsing or by searching for a keyword. You'll get suggestions based on your search.
If you weren't already a little creeped out by how much demographic information you can dial into, just wait until you look at behaviors! You can select people based on what they buy or intend to buy, the device they use, and more. This is, again, based on their Page likes and apps.
Do you want to filter out anyone connected to you, via Page Likes, event attendance, or app usage? You can. Do you ever see an ad from a Page that says "Betsy and Jo like this page"? This is based on connections. So, any of your friends who are connected to a Page will appear above the ad. This can help establish more engagement and credibility around your ad because people see that their friends are connected.
Facebook offers this word of warning about Connections:
"Keep in mind that selecting multiple options for Connections will limit your audience to people who only fall under each parameter. For example, if you wish to target your Fans and Friends of Fans, you will need to do so using two separate ads, one for Fans and one for Friends of Fans. Selecting both parameters for one ad will target only people who are Fans and have friends who are Fans."
But How Do I Choose?
These are the basics of choosing your audience. If you have a clear idea of who you want to reach, and you understand the strategy and end game behind your ad, then you should be able to target your ad in a very effective way.
You can set up different audiences for each ad set. We suggest playing around with narrow and broad audiences. A narrow audience is effective for driving a specific action, like registering for an event. A broad audience is good for brand awareness campaigns.
Finally, have fun with it and don't be afraid to experiment! Trial and error are a valuable part of the process.