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3 Ways to Use Facebook Interests to Build Better Audiences

Published June 7, 2018
Understanding your audience is a huge part of making any marketing initiative successful. But when it comes to Facebook, knowing your competitors’ audience can be equally useful.
Facebook’s advertising platform offers a range of capabilities and features for targeting specific audiences. By identifying relevant and engaged audiences for ad targeting, organizations can run more effective campaigns with greater returns on investment (ROI).
 
When you’re building audiences for Facebook Ads, you have the option to create Custom Audiences from a preexisting list of contacts or customers or Lookalike Audiences for users similar to a preexisting list of contacts or customers.
 
But what if you don’t have a list of contacts on hand already?
 
Not a problem, a Custom audience can also be built using characteristics that define your ideal audience. The Core Audiences type allows organizations to create target lists based on a variety of personal user information, including demographics, location, behaviors, and interests. In this post, we’ll cover the Interests based targeting options in Facebook and review 3 ways to use Facebook Interests to build better audiences.
 
For the purposes of this exercise, the example organization we’ll use is called Bob’s Barbecue Smokers, who sells barbecue smokers that cost several hundreds of dollars. They are interested in identifying users who would be interested in such a product and have turned to Facebook advertising to set up their initial campaigns.

Tactic 1: Find fans of a strong competitor page

One of the first things an organization can do to find relevant audiences is seek out a strong digital competitor, and target the fans of that competitor organization on Facebook. To do this, use Google to search for top competitors by typing in a broad but relevant query that accurately represents your product or service offerings, which also carries some commercial user intent.

For example, Bob types into Google “barbecue smokers for sale” and finds big box retailers like Amazon and Home Depot, but he also finds two barbecue specific retailers, Lang BBQ Smokers and BBQ Guys.

 

Google SERPS

 

When Bob searches for Lang BBQ on Facebook directly in the search bar, he comes across their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LangBBQsmokers/. By going to the Detailed Targeting section of the Audience builder, Bob is able to find fans of that page. By repeating this process for several of the top retailers in the space, Bob can establish a highly relevant audience comprised of fans of companies that sell very similar products. These are individuals who are likely to be either in-market for a barbecue smoker right now or that have at least demonstrated prior willingness to spend money on this type of product.

Tactic 2: Find fans of broad industry publications or media

Aside from individual organizations or companies, another place one can turn in order to find relevant audiences is by searching for broad industry publications, blogs or media websites. Rather than a topical focus on one company or organization, these publications cover the entire industry or space.

To find these, Bob switches from Google and uses the built-in Facebook search bar. He types in “barbecue” and looks for some publications, blogs or media website pages. He notices that many of the top results are restaurants, which is not quite what he’s looking for. Not everyone who eats barbecue may want to cook it themselves. But by scrolling down, he finds the page for a website dedicated to barbecue content, Barbecue Bible. He adds that to the Interests targeting section as well.

 

BBQ Bible

 

By repeating this process for several of the top publications and blogs, Bob is able to find a highly relevant audience of fans who regularly consume and engage with barbecue related content.

Tactic 3: Find fans of public figures in the space

Beyond organizations and publications, a third place to quickly find relevant audiences on Facebook is to find fans of specific public figures in that space. Bob notices that the Barbecue Bible is the website tied to a fairly well-known cookbook that’s authored by a man named Steven Raichlen, who also has a Facebook page.

 

Steven Raichlen

 

There are nearly 140,000 different Facebook users that have liked Steven’s page. When Bob searches for Steven’s verified page in the Interests section, the preview indicates that Facebook could help Bob reach up to over 120,000 of them.

 

Facebook Interests Steven Raichlen

 

Re-iterating the process, Bob goes back to Google and searches for “famous BBQ people”. Google returns an Answer Box right at the top of the results, with a bulleted list of other personalities and public figures in the world of barbecue. Bob can now target the fans of several these public figures.

 

Google SERPS BBQ People

 

Extra Tips and Strategies

We’ve covered the basics of how one can identify relevant Facebook audiences by targeting Interests comprised of Competitor Organizations, Industry Publications and Public Figures within the space. These three broad page types will work in nearly any kind of space or industry. But in order to really leverage Interest-based targeting, one needs to be able to reiterate and scale these processes to create as big of an audience list as possible in the shortest amount of research time. To that end, we recommend looking at two other places to drum up additional pages to find fans worth targeting; Pages Liked by this Page and Related Pages.

Bob first goes back to Barbecue Bible’s page and then looks over to the right-hand side of the page and finds all the other pages that the Barbecue Bible page has Liked:

 

Facebook Interests - Pages Liked by This Page

 

Bob saves the names of some of the most relevant sounding page names and makes a note to himself to reiterate all of the tactics reviewed with even more pages of interest. He’ll try to identify which of the pages he’s compiled has the largest existing built-in audience.

Finally, Bob decides to Like the Barbecue Bible page, and when he does, Facebook automatically populates a Related Pages carousel:

 

Facebook Related Pages

 

Bob once again saves the names of some of the more intriguing Related Pages and makes a note to reiterate the audience building efforts with these additional pages as well.

Final Thoughts – Using Interests with Other Audience Tools

After multiple iterations of the audience building tactics above, Bob has an excellent list of pages whose audience and fans he’d like to target. The last thing Bob considers is the types of campaigns he might run on Facebook and the ideal audience size for them. Facebook, like most other digital advertising platforms, allows for Boolean operators to expand or narrow audiences. The default operator is or, so as Bob adds more Interests in the Audience builder, the size of the audience grows. As long as a Facebook user is a fan of at least one of these pages, they will be included within Bob’s overall audience. If you are looking to generate interest in new products or services or are working with completely cold audiences, then you probably want a more awareness driven campaign, and the bigger the reach the better. Use or operators primarily when creating awareness campaigns to maximize your audience size.

But if you have an established product or service or you have experience with audience building or have already used Lookalike or custom audiences, then you can create smaller pools of warmer leads by using and combinations. With that approach, Bob sets up a very refined audience of users who have liked a specific Competitor brand and liked Barbecue Bible. By requiring a combination of specific Likes, Bob narrows his audience to a pool of highly engaged barbecue fans. The campaign he targets to them is less awareness driven and promotes products similar to those that the competitor sold.

Conclusion

Interest-based audience creation can also be combined with any of Facebook’s other audience selection features like demographics, age, gender, location, income bracket, behaviors, etc. By mixing and matching Interest based audience targeting with Demographic targeting and Behavior targeting, organizations can run highly effective Facebook campaigns to target relevant users throughout the conversion funnel, from general awareness to in-market qualified sales prospects.

With smartly targeted audiences you’ll be able to turn up the heat on your Facebook ad campaigns and smoke the competition. Sorry, we couldn’t resist.

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