Simon Pilkington
July 28, 2014

How to Target Your Audience with Facebook Advertising

How to Target Your Audience with Facebook Advertising

With the sheer volume of daily users and shared and stored personal information on Facebook today, the platform has evolved from a social network to a marketing goldmine for brands with a social presence.  If you know your audience, you should know who they are and what they want; however, knowing how to find them is less straightforward.  Thankfully, targeting ads to market segments through Facebook is an effective, economical and user-friendly marketing strategy. Read on to discover our go-to methods for targeting audiences through Facebook advertising:


Knowing the basic demographics of your audience is the most intrinsic and influential asset to your Facebook advertising.  Not only does basic information such as location, age, gender and language allow you to target the right audience for your ads, with Facebook Ad Manager this information can tell you who and where your Ads are getting the most clicks and impressions.  With Facebook Ad Manager, you can refine your ads to the target following demographic factors:


You will need to choose at least one location for your Facebook ad/s, and by default this will be the country you are creating it in.  The location can be as broad as your country, or as refined as a postal code.  You can also select states, cities, towns and suburbs; however, in Australia we recommend targeting to cities, as Facebook users have been found to be less likely to publicly declare their suburb.

You can also select a radius of a location, for example, cities within 100 kilometres of Sydney (if you wanted to include border cities).  This is particularly useful for businesses located in smaller cities or towns to receive optimal reach.


Most brands or businesses have a specific range to which their products or services are targeted.  Although this is not mandatory (some brands naturally do have a non-specific age target), your ads will receive the best results by targeting a defined age group.

Facebook allows you to select any age range from 13 to 64, with the option of no maximum age.  This should be fairly straightforward if you know your audience well enough.  For example; if you are marketing baby products, your ideal audience will quite easily fit into the range of 28 to 40.


Facebook allows you to select males, females, or both.  Selecting both is appropriate for some brands and businesses, giving your ad a broader reach and including users who have opted not to select a gender.  However, some brands will benefit from choosing one or the other.  Unfortunately, selecting a defined audience for your brand often means having to stereotype in order to gain the best possible reach.  If you are marketing a product or service targeted primarily at a particular gender (for example, power tools for men and beauty products for women), it is best to select a gender.


Facebook will automatically select the language of the country you are targeting, so if you are targeting people, but changing this can be beneficial if you are marketing to audiences in your set country who speak other languages.  For example, if you were advertising a language school for non-English speakers, or advice on immigration law, you would specify a language or languages other than English.



Targeting audiences based on their relationship status may seem far-fetched, but it can be an effective way to narrow down your audience depending on your product or service.  Facebook allows you to target ads to their orientation (“interested in”) by choosing men, women, both or unspecified.  This can be useful for obvious businesses such as dating sites and adult services, but can also be utilised on a psychographic level for brands targeting particular lifestyles.

Facebook also allows advertisers to target based on relationship status.  For Australian advertisers, the options are: in a relationship, married, engaged, in an open relationship, widowed, “it’s complicated”, separated, divorced or unspecified.  Specifying relationship status preferences can help target audiences based on lifestyles and interest.  For example, wedding services would target to users identified as “engaged”, whilst products and services suited to young consumers likely to make impulsive purchases should be targeted at young users identified as “single”.


Products and services designed for consumers under purchasing age (typically thirteen) can be marketed to the purchase target (parents and caregivers) by selecting a parental status.  Facebook users who publish the birth of children, Grandchildren or Godchildren as a “life event” can be targeted by the age of their children, from “expecting” to 19 years.

Targeting audiences based on their child’s age can be useful for certain products and services (e.g. childcare, education, “Mummy” blogs), but keep in mind that not all users publish information about their children.

Work and education:


A user’s education can be used to target Facebook advertisements.  Advertisers can target to a user’s education level (high school, diploma, degree, etc.), field of study, institution, and year graduated.  There are numerous ways advertisers can use this information to target audiences, depending on the product or service.  For example, educational institutions can use information about education level to target certain programs, like undergraduate degrees to high school students and post graduate programs to degree holders.


Advertisers can target audiences based on a user’s employer, job title and industry.  As an advertiser, you can use this information on a demographic or psychographic level, depending on your brand.  Targeting to employer and job title can be useful for audiences within certain income brackets.  For example, if your brand is targeted at higher earners, you can target users with executive job titles or exclusive companies.  Targeting based on industry can assist with products and services suited to audiences with particular professional or personal interests.



A seemingly obvious but invaluable feature; targeting your ads to users’ interests is a great way to accurately pin-point your audience.  Facebook allows you to select interests to target to, based on information gathered from users’ liked pages.  For example, if you are marketing a café, you can target users who are interested in coffee, gourmet food, etc.  For a similar effect, you can also select certain pages that your audience are likely to have liked, which can be helpful for targeting lookalike audiences.

Life events

With the introduction of the life events feature in late 2011, Facebook now allows users to publish events from their personal and professional life.  Common events such as engagements, travel, new family members and new hobbies can be targeted, but targetable life events can be as specific as becoming an organ donor, retirement, studying abroad, volunteering, joining the military, new pets, moving house, buying a house, new housemates, new vehicle, overcoming illness, quitting a habit, eating habits, weight loss, new glasses, broken bones, getting braces, learning an instrument, learning a language, getting a tattoo, receiving a license, receiving an award, a first kiss, registering
to vote
 and many more.  Certain brands can benefit from this refined information (for example, insurance companies targeting new drivers), whilst keeping in mind that users who publish these kinds of personal information are in the minority.

Online attributes


Targeting to behaviour is again another powerful Facebook advertising tool that is still in its early stages in Australia.  You can target audiences based on their behaviour within these 8 categories: Automotive, charitable donations, digital activities, financial, mobile device user, purchase behaviour, residential profiles, and travel.

The most influential of these categories, particularly for online retailers, is purchase behaviour.  Facebook allows advertisers to immaculately define audiences with the various sub-categories in this tool, including business purchases, buyer profiles, clothing, food and drink, health and beauty, home and garden, household products, kids products, pet products, purchase habits, purchase types, sports and outdoors, store types and subscription services.

The targeting opportunities for advertisers utilising online behaviours are endless, and will become more prominent with time.


This function allows advertisers to target audiences by what they are connected with, including pages, apps and events.  You can opt to target users who are connected to your own pages, apps or events, as well as users who are connected to similar pages, apps and events.  In addition, this option allows you to target friends of users who are already connected to your brand; an effective strategy for familiarising your brand with new audiences.  You can also choose to exclude your advertisements reaching users who are already connected with your brand, giving your large scope for new connections.

Launching your ad

Once you have determined the audience parameters for your ad, combine these with your financial and logistical parameters to decide on the best method for your brand.  If your audience definition is too broad or specific (Facebook will be able to tell you this), you will need to make alterations in your targeting constraints.  Most importantly, you want to make as many impression as you can with your ad, so create multiple ads and arrange to have them appear frequently – it commonly takes 8 to 10 impressions on a user before they begin to consider the ad, let alone take action.  The targeting opportunities for Facebook advertising are endless, and with the right amount of time and research it can be an invaluable tool for your business.

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