Digital advertising is hard. Without having a pre-defined persona of your target audience, you're throwing darts in the dark hoping to stick. Facebook advertising makes a massive number of targeting options available to you. So many in fact that it can often times be overwhelming.

The fundamental reason behind Facebook's success is its ability to foster an environment where people want to share intimate and personal details, publicly. Thus revealing personality traits and preferences that help advertisers build personas.

With over 2.3B monthly active users worldwide accounting for 70% of social media users on the internet, Facebook advertising has audience targeting data like no other.

Shannon just got married so she creates a life event.

Facebook adds Shannon to newly wed demographic and all her friends to friends of newly wed demographic list.

Now advertisers can start targeting Shannon with honeymoon packages. And her friends too.. girls talk.

Shannon clicks, cookie drops and before you know it she's sipping on lemon daisy's in Bora Bora with her husband.

Google will never have direct access to this type of data and will always rely on data providers and machine learning algorithms. The most Google has on you is your gender, birth date, search history on Google and YouTube and location data from Google maps. Yes, that's a lot but its not social data - life events, relationship status etc.

If Google+ had worked out, they would have everything covered. Complete profile coverage. Scary!

You can get really granular with Facebook advertising by combining demographics, interests, behaviors and custom audiences. However for the sake of simplicity we will only explore demographics in this article.

There's 83 demographic targeting options available through Facebook ads.

Yes, that's just demographics.

These are broadly classified into 6 groups:

  1. Education
  2. Financial
  3. Life Events
  4. Parents
  5. Relationships
  6. Work

There's a lot to work with so make sure not to get too specific and compromise on reach. Who knows you might end up targeting The Rock with weight loss supplements because his daughter is on Facebook which puts him on the parents with teen children audience list.

Food for thought: An interesting exercise while learning to build a persona for Facebook advertising is to imagine targeting a celebrity. Choose one celebrity or role model who you follow and know a lot about.

Think how about how you would reach them with your ad. Visualize the finer details - location, device preference, relationship status, household income etc.

Try it, it will take you on an interesting journey.

Moving on..

Launch your Facebook ads fairly broad then gradually narrow down, test and optimize.

This does 2 things -

  • You discover the lowest cost per result through iterative optimization
  • Strike out any targeting options that throws your data off. This can happen due to fake profiles or accounts created for malicious purposes.

To make all possible Facebook demographic targeting options crystal clear, I've put together this Infographic to make things easier to absorb.

Hopefully it will help you out in creating some kickass targeted Facebook campaigns.