Using Facebook Audience Insights

Published April 20, 2017
They say that opposites attract, but long-term relationships are usually built on shared interests and values. While that applies to everything from friendships to marriages, it also applies to the relationships brands build with consumers. Knowing what your customers like, what they care about, and how they spend their time and money allows you to build better, more meaningful connections.
That’s why any good marketer is consistently looking for more ways to learn about their audience. What age, gender, and geographic demographics do they fall into? What are their hobbies? What brands do they like? Where do they shop?
Facebook’s Audience Insights allows you to pinpoint these and other data points about potential customers on social media, where individuals are most likely to share personal details about their lives online. Whether you’re planning a Facebook ad campaign or new audience intelligence for a marketing campaign elsewhere, you’ll likely find valuable information in this section of Facebook. In this article, we’ll go over how to use Audience Insights and how to segment potential audiences using various data points.


Facebook Audience Insights


Accessing Audience Insights

You can gain access to your Audience Insights from the navigation bar within Facebook Business Manager. If you don’t have a Business Manager account setup, see Facebook’s guide to creating one.


Facebook Audience Insights Navigation


Once you’re in, you can begin by creating an audience from three options: everyone on Facebook, people connected to your page, or a custom audience. A custom audience can include an uploaded email list, a segment of website visitors tracked via the Facebook pixel, or a lookalike audience (built by Facebook including similar interests to an existing audience).

Once you’ve chosen the type of audience to start with, you can further segment by a variety of criteria, pulled from both Facebook’s internal data and external data sources connected with user accounts. These categories include:

Age range
Page connections
Relationship status
Market Segments
Life Events

The variables you choose will largely depend on what you’re looking to learn. From here we’ll delve into evaluating demographic data and the inferences that can be drawn.

Analyzing an Existing Audience

Facebook Audience Insights offers immense potential for learning about the existing people who are engaging with your brand, whether via Facebook, your website, or an email list. In the example below, we see demographic data for people who visited the Admissions page on a private school website. From this data, we can deduce that visitors researching admissions are most likely to be married female adults in the 25-44 age range with a college education.


Facebook Custom Audience Demo


Next, in the Page Likes section, you can see popular pages liked by people in your audience, as well as pages that are most likely to be relevant to your audience based on their interests. This data can help illuminate useful behavioral trait and inclinations. This information gives you a sense of what your audience is reading and watching, what causes they care about, and what brands they’re likely to interact with. From there, you can use that data to inform the content you’re presenting on social media. You can also take this knowledge a step further and apply it to content on your website, email marketing or even offline mediums.

In this example, we’re analyzing the people who like a healthy lifestyle brand’s page. From the data we can see that these individuals tend to like other brands in the realm of nutrition, healthy eating, etc. We could also use these likes to determine potential affiliate partners for cross-selling products.


Facebook Page Likes


Next, we’ll evaluate purchase habits of individuals who like the same page. In this section, you can view how heavily people are likely to spend in retail and online purchases. In addition, you can see purchase behavior by category.

For this brand, food and drink doesn’t particularly surprise as a top category, but also note that subscription services rank high. Based on this data, the brand would do well to target the audience to sign up for a subscription service, such as a diet plan.


Facebook Purchase Behavior


The key to getting the most use from this Facebook feature is to identify the questions you are looking to answer. Once you do that, you’ll be able to begin making data-based decisions about everything from content to campaigns and brand messaging.

Analyzing Global Audiences

Besides looking deeply at your own lists, you can also segment categories of people based on the data parameters directly available in the interface. What pages are most liked by people in a fitness category? How likely are US-based female 18-24-year-olds to make credit card purchases? The platform can answer these and other questions.

Use the sidebar to select your initial criteria. Then get even more granular by overlaying multiple parameters. For instance, you can choose males 25-40 who like baseball, or people who like both comedy movies and fast food. In addition, note that the Advanced section opens access to many additional parameters, including those mentioned earlier in the article.

So how do you use this? Again, it depends largely on the questions you want answered and your ultimate goals. For example, say that you’re promoting a vacation planning site. You’re probably looking to target likely travelers with expendable income. For that, you’d choose to look at people with a “frequent international travelers” behavior and income of $100,000 more a year.


Facebook Audience of Frequent Travelers


What you see here suggests that you should probably accept American Express for site purchases, as that is one of the top brands here. In addition, consider featuring your ski vacations, since skiing ranks as a popular activity liked by this audience. You can also see a few popular figures and websites that may be worth exploring for advertising options.

Limitations of Audience Insights

While Facebook Audience Insights provides immense data about the public, there are some potential limitations in considering the usability of this information. First, this data only represents individuals who have Facebook accounts. Of course, Facebook had almost 1.86 billion monthly users at the end of 2016, and (despite claims to the contrary) the vast majority of millennials still use Facebook. However, the data still misses individuals who either have not signed up for Facebook or aren’t actively liking pages and interacting. A Pew study cites that 8 in 10 online Americans use Facebook, meaning that this data potentially excludes 2 out of 10 people.

For analyzing people who like a page or are in a custom audience, it’s important to factor in that smaller lists will yield limited information. Some data, like page likes, may not show up for lower sample numbers.

Also, consider that the people who like your Facebook page may not be the same as those who could actually afford your products. For instance, a luxury car brand may attract teenagers who want to see photos of high-end cars but aren’t qualified to make a purchase. In this case, cross-referencing an email list of actual customers would provide better data. Despite these limitations, this section of Facebook still offers one of the more powerful (and free) methods of analyzing your audiences.


Facebook Audience Insights is intriguing, informative, and for us data nerds, a lot of fun. Start by investigating the habits around your existing Facebook page likes and move on to experimenting with custom audiences and broader defined audiences based on Facebook’s data. Use the data to gain a better understanding of the interests, inclinations, and aspirations of active Facebook users, people visiting your site, and people on your email lists. The more you know about what drives the people you target, the more you can create targeted marketing that drives results.


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.
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.
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.