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: 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.


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.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.