Audience Basics

Facebook’s huge following and access to a vast local and international audience can make it tempting to think very big when starting out.  Applying broadcast marketing techniques to this entire audience, thinking we will achieve great things is one of the biggest mistakes you can make on Facebook.  It is also a very good way to burn a lot of cash quickly!

Facebook is all about audiences and targeting.  This is the most important area to develop when you first start out on Facebook.

It all boils down to relevance.  Content must be relevant to the people you show it too.  Facebook wants a quality experience for their end user, therefore they place great weight on relevance, and will penalise you if you are showing irrelevant ads to users.   In this day and age users are not only aware that ad targeting is possible, they expect it.  They will get frustrated and annoyed very quickly if they are on Facebook and they start seeing irrelevant ads often.  Users will quickly learn to ignore your ads, or worse, will report them as SPAM giving you a terrible Edgerank.  It is very important to avoid this negative ranking as it can have a big impact on your efforts.

So how do we stay relevant?  We make sure the audience we deliver our ads and content too are targeted to be the most appropriate people to see it. This requires some thought and it is something to ponder on a regular basis.  You will be amazed at the possibilities once you get started and gain some understanding on how this works.  Targeting and audience building is what successful Facebook marketers spend most of their time on, creating, fine tuning, and testing.

Ask yourself – who is likely to buy my product?   Sure, most products have general appeal, so potentially everyone could buy your product.  Usually, even those products with general appeal will have niches, where there are people who are more likely to buy your products than others.  These people will find your information more relevant.    Discovering these niches, and then turning these into audiences is the key to your Facebook success.

Facebook recently released a statement where they have indicated their goal is to have the advertising content that is served to the audience being so relevant that it is hard to differentiate ads from stories.  Maybe this is a little too much wishful thinking, however it is wise to pay close attention to what Facebook wants, as they will seek to achieve their end goal by controlling content through the Algorithm.

Here are some basics to get you started on Audiences:


Reach your customers in the areas where they live or where they do business with you. Target adverts by country, region, postcode within cities and suburbs or in rural areas.  You can even choose distance within a specific location such as your business.  This is one of the most basic types of targeting and is best used in conjunction with another form of targeting.  Not only does location allow you to concentrate on specific areas, you can use it to show specific adds to certain locations.


Choose the audiences that should see your adverts by age, gender and interests.  Every ad campaign should include some basic demographics to broadly narrow your audience.


Certain interests will be obviously associated with your business and you should definitely be targeting these.  With a little lateral thinking you might be able to broaden your reach by targeting some interests that are not quite so obvious, but could be worthwhile niches.  Choose from hundreds of categories such as music, films, sport, games, shopping, industry, hobbies,  and much more.  Facebook gathers interest information based on people’s behaviour on and off Facebook, ie. what they ‘Like’, click, read and view.  As a result this information is quite accurate.


Behaviour information is based on the things people do – such as shopping behaviour, the type of phone they use or if they’re looking to buy a car or house.   Generally this is one of the less useful targeting options in New Zealand as the data is reasonably limited.  That said, there are a few useful options, such as targeting people who have made an online purchase before.   This is worth investigating, especially when used in conjunction with other targets.

Advanced/Custom Audiences

This is where things get really interesting.  Facebook has taken audiences to a whole new level and created some advanced tools for targeting very specific groups.   These tools are very simple to use, and every business will find benefit in using these.

Custom Audiences

Custom Audiences help you find your existing customers from all the people who are on Facebook. You can create a Custom Audience using a customer contact list, your website traffic or activity in your app.  This is very, very powerful and reasonable easy to set up.The theory behind this option, is the old well known principal – it is easier to retain a customer than find a new one.  It is also easier to sell something to someone who knows your business, recognises your brand and understands what you are all about.  Selling to these is what this option is all about.  Every organisation should be committing part of their budget to custom audiences, and putting effort in to building these.Learn more about custom audiences.

Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences let you find more people who are similar to your existing customers. It is an automated process that users an algorithm to identify people who have similar characteristics and behaviour as a list you supply.  Most commonly you would create a lookalike audience that is similar to your existing customers, but there are other options.   Lookalike audiences are a way of leveraging off existing knowledge to grow at a faster rate.  They are fantastic in theory, however like anything controlled by an algorithm it can have mixed success.  It is always better to use an ‘actual audience’, however there will be times a lookalike will be useful.

Through these tools there are countless ways to target audiences.  We are no longer marketing to ‘households’ but now to specific people.  This might seem like a subtle difference, however it means a big shift in how we do things.  By putting time and effort into getting this right all your marketing efforts will be more successful and at a lower cost.