How to Research Target Audiences with Facebook’s Ad Tool - dummies

How to Research Target Audiences with Facebook’s Ad Tool

By John Haydon

Facebook’s Ad tool is primarily intended to be used by advertisers to create, launch, and manage advertising campaigns. It is a great tool for web marketers. But wouldn’t you like to make sure you’re reaching your target audience. Facebook’s Ad tool can help you with that also.


Using the Facebook Ad tool as a research tool allows you to answer questions such as

  • How many Facebook users near my business’s location are married and between the ages of 35 and 39?

  • How many fans of my competitor’s Facebook Page live close to my business?

  • How many of my target customers are already fans of my competitor’s Facebook Page?

The following list describes several target segment criteria you can research in the Facebook Ad tool:

  • Location: You can research a target audience based on where they live. You can target broadly with countries, or even get as specific as cities. Note that if a city has no Facebook users living there, that city may not be available as a selection. (This is rare, however.)


  • Age: When a person first signs up on Facebook, she’s required to enter her date of birth. This allows you to see how many users are within a particular age range or are a specific age.

    Always begin targeting with broad criteria, such as location, and then add more specific criteria like interests. This allows you to get a sense of the possible reach of people you can target on Facebook. As you add or remove targeting criteria in the Ad tool, Facebook automatically updates the Estimated audience number.


  • Gender and Language (Advanced Demographics): You can research a target audience based on their gender or what language they speak. Note that if you don’t make a language selection, the Ad tool automatically defaults to the official language of the country that the user is located in.

  • Relationship Status: This selection allows you to research the number of people within a selected target audience based on their relationship status.


  • Likes and Interests: Likes and Interests targeting allows advertisers to reach people based on the activities and interests they list in their Facebook profiles. This includes Pages they have liked and mentions of favorite movie stars, books, movies, or TV shows, as well as political views, employers, and job titles.

    Keep in mind that researching Facebook likes and interests is very different from researching search engine keywords. For example, if you sell hiking shoes, you’d use “hiking boots” to research search engine keywords, but would use “backpacking” or “National Wildlife Federation” to research various Facebook audiences.

    As you select keywords and phrases to target, Facebook automatically suggests additional likes and interests that other users have selected. As you add these keywords to your criteria, notice that the Estimated Reach number updates to reflect the keywords you’ve added.

  • Networking Goals on Facebook: Facebook allows users to indicate their primary motivations for connecting with others on Facebook. You can research these motivations by selecting the various options under Broad Categories. Although “dating” and “networking” are extremely broad definitions about networking goals, they can provide valuable insight that can be used for messaging.

    For example, if most people who like backpacking have also expressed an interest in dating, you can create messaging about backpacking as being a way to meet new people.

  • Education & Work: Education & Work targeting is based on people who attend a specific school or work at a particular company. You can further target by current education level, major, and graduation year, if applicable.

  • Connections: In this section, you can target fans, or friends of fans, and so on. Targeting people in this way can help you spread your message by word of mouth.