There are now over 1 billion active Facebook users in the world in 2018. In theory, that means you have access to a 1-billion-person audience through a single paid social media advertising platform. It can be tempting to think you have the ability to reach every single individual through Facebook’s advertising channels, but you would be wrong.
In reality, there is no way a small business advertising campaign through Facebook could reach even 100th of a percent of these widely different people. Why? Budgets, creative content, diverse interests, even time, are all uncontrollable barriers that prevent you from scaling up to the numbers large corporations enjoy in their own social media advertising efforts.
That is why knowing how to craft a target audience for a Facebook ad is crucial. Even if you could reach every single user on Facebook, there would be no reason to. The entire point of any good advertising campaign is to focus on the individuals who are more likely to be responsive to your marketing efforts. That is where the idea of a target audience comes in. It is also why Facebook provides many different settings and filters to make it easier to reach a specific demographic so you can maximize the effectiveness of your online marketing.
Defining the Target Audience
No amount of fancy settings and features of Facebook will help you reach the right people if you don’t know who you are targeting in the first place. This means you have to know your target audience before actually creating and launching a Facebook ad/campaign.
The best way to create this target audience is to think about the types of individuals who are more likely to use your products or services. If you have an existing consumer base, try to find some of the helpful demographics such as age, gender, and occupation as a starting point. When possible, try to dig deeper as well. It is helpful to know why your existing customers like your business in the first place. What keeps them coming back?
Through this process, you should have a clear understanding of your target audience in the end. This understanding should include the basic makeup of important demographic information as well as the more in-depth, qualitative details about them. Create a target persona to give you the best image of this audience possible. Imagine someone who represents the average qualities of the audience. Give them a name, occupation, backstory, etc. Try to get to know this person as much as you would an acquaintance or a close friend.
The basic idea is to personify this person, so the target audience is not just a bunch of random demographics in your mind. A target audience with actual characteristics will be more representative of the audience you are likely to reach with the real advertising campaign.
With this information, you can use Facebook’s advertising platform to set the appropriate filters for reaching the right people.
Using Facebook to Reach the Target Audience
The great thing about social media marketing through a platform like Facebook if you have access to all the social data and metrics of their users. This is particularly helpful for basic demographic information – such as location. Facebook has taken the time to build in many advanced filters and features to allow you, the advertiser, to narrow down the scope and number of people you want to potentially reach through the campaign.
To do this, Facebook has an advertising dashboard available anytime you create and manage a campaign. Through this dashboard, you will find several settings related to the target audience. Most of the settings allow you to include or rule out individuals based on a certain set of criteria. How you use the settings is up to you and the scope of your campaign.
Pay attention to the audience numbers Facebook projects as you change the settings. These numbers will tell you the size of the audience you may encounter depending on the criteria you input. While no campaign and target audience should rely solely on the audience size alone, these changes will give you a good idea of the possible scope you will potentially have to manage. In turn, this information will tell you how big the actual campaign must be in order to realistically reach this audience size.
For example, if you want to create a local advertising campaign to reach Facebook users close to your business, you will want to use a set of criteria based on location. This will rule out a Facebook user who lives outside of the geographical range you determine.
When possible, make decisions that keep the audience more manageable for the advertising campaign. The target audience is most useful when it rules out people who are not as likely to respond in the desired manner. Since it costs time and money to reach these individuals, it is better to take them off the list for the best results. This is where Facebook’s filters have the advantage over other settings offered by Twitter and Google.
It may take some trial and error while running a campaign to narrow down the exact list of criteria that is most effective. Sometimes, a defining characteristic that seems like a good addition in the first place may prove to be an ineffective part of the target audience. Monitor the performance of the campaign as it goes on to see which aspects of the target audience work or not. Make changes as necessary to keep the campaign on track.
Knowing Your Target Audience
The basic process of crafting and reaching a target audience is a transition from concept to reality. In other words, you have to start with the idea of the target audience, execute the campaign with the appropriate filters and settings and gauge how well you reach the individuals of this audience. When you take the time to think about, craft and carefully reach this target audience, you will increase your chance of having a successful Facebook advertising campaign.