Very contemporary meme created via memegenerator

You have no idea who your audience is.

At least that’s what the facebook ad interface is telling you. You are looking to target your audience for lead generation on facebook, and while you do know a lot about your audience, they don’t fit into any tidy category. Let’s say  you are looking to target people who are likely investors. You know based on your research that more than likely they are older, have gone to college, and you may have even found some zip codes that commonly have lots of investors. You could set your facebook ad campaign just to target these demographics. However, if you just target by these demographics you will get steamrolled in your facebook campaigns like Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

You will have ads that flounder and get a very low click through rate. On top of that when the ads are clicked, your conversion rate is going to be so low that there is no way you will make a profit. You’ll get frustrated, cranky, and eventually will find yourself wondering if this whole facebook advertising thing is right for your business.

Facebook advertising is right for your business, you are just making a common mistake that is easy to correct.

You Are Only Targeting By “Hard” Demographics

One of the reasons that I recommend certain clients engage in facebook advertising is that it allows a business to target by a variety of demographics, many of them what I call hard demographics. Hard demographics are indisputable facts, for example:

  • Either you are engaged or you are not
  • You either do have a bachelors degree or you do not
  • You are a certain age (except for Pharell Williams who seems to be stuck at age 22 for the past 17 years).

As long as your business can rely on hard demographic targeting you are good to go. For example I recently ran a facebook ad campaign for a local bakery that wanted to sell more wedding cakes. I was able to use hard demographic targeting to target people who are engaged, and live in Philadelphia. This was an easy, Shawn Kemp style slam dunk of a campaign. We knew the exact hard demographics and were able to target these particular users so the cost per lead was great. However, I recently ran into an issue where I had a new client and I needed to target people who were interested in buying annuities. At first I thought of hard targeting people who have college degrees and live in affluent areas – but I knew in my heart that was not the best I could do. As I spent hours researching I came upon the solution – look further into facebook targeting and target by inferred demographics: actions which suggest a certain type of person.

Target By Inferred Demographics

Inferred demographics is a way to make educated guesses about people based upon their actions, however they do not represent indisputable facts. We actually use our inference to understand people in our lives every day. For example:

  • If someone drives a Ferrari we infer that they are rich, though they could just be renting the car
  • If someone is in great shape we infer that they work out everyday, though they could just have great genetics
  • If someone claims to understand the ending to the show Lost we infer that they are lying. though they could also be the actual writer of the show.

If we can use inferences to make every day educated guesses than we can certainly do it facebook where the amount of data is significantly more. In fact, facebook creates categories for you, and these categories allow you to target by these inferences. The facebook interface for inference targeting is called behavioral targeting. In my real life annuity example I could not target people who make a certain amount of money, but I could target people who have shown behavioral activities that make them a highly likely investor. You do have to trust facebook’s algorithm a bit that facebook is right about what a highly likely investor is. However, I can tell you that based on what I am seeing with my current crop of facebook ad clients that facebook’s algorithm seems to be correct. I base this assessment on the metric I care most about – cost per lead.

How To Utilize Behaviors To Target Your facebook Ads By Inferred Demographics

Now that you understand why you would want to use behaviors, I am going to show you how to set it up. I am going to show you how to do this using screenshots from the facebook power editor interface. I recommend the power editor, and I use it because it allows me to manage many accounts efficiently. However, if you are just using the regular ad create tool, it is essentially the same process.

1. Click on “Create ad”

Click On Create ad

2. Click on audience

Click on Audience

2. Once on the audiences tab scroll down until you see behaviors

Scroll to behaviors

4. Pick a behavior that you can use as an inferred demographic

Highly Likely Investors

For my annuity client the behavior was highly likely investors, but there are so many behaviors to target that it can get ridiculous! I actually find this part of building an ad campaign to be interesting and a good chance to get into your potential user’s heads. I would take some time to look around this type of targeting to just see what is available. Facebook changes these behavioral options often, and just because what you are looking for today isn’t available doesn’t mean it won’t be available tomorrow.