How to find the best audience to target on Facebook?

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Do you know where your customers live? Are they male or females? What do they like on Facebook? And in real life? Do they all speak English?

If you don’t know at least these basics about your audiences, how can you compare them, find similar ones, plan your campaigns and create relevant advertisements?

How do you know if your Facebook ad campaigns are meaningful to people on the platform? Stop guessing and start using Facebook Audience Insights to find answers.


Enter the Audience Insights Tool by Facebook.

Audience Insights is one of the most powerful (and free) tools that Facebook offers to give every business the knowledge they need to boost their Facebook ad campaigns results.

By using the Audience Insights tool to create customer profiles in this level of depth, you learn how to better tailor your content to your users as well as where to promote your content to ensure they read it.

Here’s everything you need to use Facebook Audience Insights to narrow your audience to perfection.

If we take a successful Facebook ad campaign and distill it down to just the core elements, the four main factors would be:

  • Engaging ad creative, i.e., an image or video, the headline, and ad text
  • A good product and compelling offer
  • Targeting the best audiences to show the ads to
  • Bidding, optimization and campaign structure…the technical bits.

So, with audiences being one of the four pillars of success, how do we know who we should target with our ads?

With 2.27 billion monthly active users on Facebook (and over a billion on Instagram) there’s plenty of potentials to narrow the audience down and zero in on just those people that are most interested in our offer.

The targeting options we have available to us in Ads manager are:

  • Custom and lookalike audiences
  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Fans or friends of fans of a Facebook page

Custom and lookalike audiences can be very useful, but new advertisers might not have enough traffic and conversions to create them, and established marketers may have used them so often that they’ve saturated the audiences.

That’s where interest and demographic targeting comes into play. But how do we know which interests to target?

Step forward Audience Insights, the official Facebook tool for customer research.

This is how Facebook introduces Audience Insights:

Getting Started With Audience Insights

Log in to your Business Manager and click on the menu in the top left-hand corner, under the Plan section.

Here you can select Audience Insights:

select audience insights

You’ll then be presented with a popup, allowing you to choose either a general audience or people connected with your Facebook page:

audience insights popup

Once you’ve selected your starting audience, you will be taken to the main screen:

audience insights dashboard

The left-hand menu allows you to filter the audience, the options available are:

  • Country, region or city
  • Age – the minimum age that can be selected is 18, unlike ads that can be targeted to 13+
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Fans of your Facebook page, alternatively these can be excluded
  • Various advanced options: language, education, relationship status, work, multicultural affinity, parents, politics (in the US only) and life events such as those in a new job or new relationship.


Points to remember:

The default location is the United States.

If you are targeting another country be sure to change this.

If you can’t get enough data for your chosen country and sections are showing blank then switch back to the US.

Although this won’t be quite as relevant, the larger audience will allow you to access more data to start exploring interests.

Insights can only be provided if there are at least 1,000 people in the audience.

Helpfully, Facebook provides an audience estimate at the top of the page, if you notice that it gets too small, you should remove a filter.

I've been helping businesses grow online since 2011. At the moment, I'm a digital marketing specialist at Forbes.com.

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