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Finding the right target audience

Finding the right target group for your product or service is one of the crucial elements if your social media campaigns will succeed or fail. Since Facebook gathers a lot of data about their users, there are a lot of targeting options that can be utilized for marketers. In this article we want to give you a broad overview over the most important targeting options. Watch out for new articles that go more into more detail about certain parts later!

The first step in finding the right target audience for marketing in social media is gathering knowledge about your customers and fans. There are several ways to gather information depending on how you have set up your tracking. A good way to start is by looking into the demographics of your homepage visitors in Google Analytics. Besides Google Analytics, Facebook offers a tool called Audience Insights that gives you insights about your fans and even puts it in correlation with all Facebook user in specific countries. Looking into these audience details will give you a better picture of who previously has been interested in your product or service and that also makes it easier to define who to target.

Generally speaking, it really helps being specific when choosing your target audiences. In this way you will make sure your ads are shown to potentially interested people and not just anyone using Facebook or Instagram. Since most brands don’t have an unlimited media budget, it makes sense to start advertising towards specific and relevant audiences that you have defined based on your previous data.

The first important question you have to ask yourself is: Do you want to advertise towards new or existing customers? This decision will heavily change the ways of setting up target groups.

Existing customers

Let’s say that you want to target your existing customers with a special offer you want to push. The first option you have is to target the ads towards your fans – this will work for both Facebook fans and Instagram followers. You can also choose to target everyone who has interacted with your Facebook or Instagram page or content in a certain period of time but maybe is not a fan or follower yet.

The second and most effective way of retargeting your existing customer is done by uploading an actual list of your previous customer. There are several data points that can be uploaded, usually email-addresses are quite useful. Facebook will match the data with their user database and create a custom audience of the matches. This is a great tool to make sure that you only include previous customers in your advertising.

If you don’t have any data about previous customers available, you can create retargeting groups via the data the Facebook pixel is tracking. You can for example create a target group of everyone who has visited your homepage within the last month. If the tracking is set up with pixel events, you will be able to create more specific groups from actions performed on your homepage. A very relevant action could be everyone who put something into the shopping cart on your page but did not purchase a product yet. These people have already showed great interest in your product or service and are a highly relevant target group.

In case you actively want to avoid previous customer – you might have a campaign with a new customer discount – the custom audience can be excluded as well.

New customers

For reaching new customers, there are a bunch of more or less advanced options to define your audience on different parameters.

The most basic parameters to define your audience are: Gender, age, location and language. When it comes to location, you can either choose countries, cities (with or without a surrounding radius) or even postal codes for very local ads.

Then you can find are all kinds of interests – everything from dog lovers over interest for cooking to interests for sports. This information is based on the interaction within the platform – what pages people like, which content people are commenting on – as well as their digital behavior.

Then you can find demographics that might be relevant to specify your target audience. There is information about education, information about civil status or information about work and much more.

And you can also find more details about behavior. Examples for this are people who use certain mobile devices, as well as details about digital purchasing behavior, traveling habits and more.

You don’t have to choose just one of these targeting options, you can combine them and by that specify very detailed target groups. Facebook will give you an estimate of how many people are in this group together with a meter warning you if it’s too broad or too specific for advertising purposes.

Interests, demographics and behaviors can all be included or excluded. To give you an example, you could include everyone who has an interest within IT and developing and then exclude all students if you for some reason want to exclude students.


Since we mentioned custom audiences used for retargeting, we want to introduce an effective tool to target new client groups by using information from your previous clients. Facebook offers the possibility to create Lookalike audiences based on your custom audiences. What Facebook does here is creating “twins” that are very similar to the demographics, interests and behaviour of your previous clients in your custom audience. Usually that is one of the most effective target groups in advertising.

These groups vary in size depending on the size of your custom audience and the location of the twin group. We’ll give you an example to make it more clear: Let’s say we have set up a custom audience containing all our customers that have made purchases in our online store. We then choose to create a Lookalike audience of that list. We decide to create it in the USA since our business is located there. Then we choose 1 % which means Facebook matches the custom audience with 1 % of all Facebook user in the USA that are most similar to your custom audience. Great, right? To make it broader, you can go up to 10 % – this will be less relevant than the 1 % since the groups will be much bigger and thereby broader.

In my experience, the way to go is to A/B test different audience against each other especially if you just get started with advertising on social media. In this way, you can test different target groups like lookalike audiences against interest targeting and targeting based on demographics. By directly comparing the numbers of each group, you will see where the biggest potential for your product or service lies and then you can shift the budget towards the best performing target group to keep developing it further.

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