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How Brands Should Use the New Facebook Targeting Features

Win Pratt.
By: Win Pratt  |   September 7, 2012  |   View Comments

Facebook has rolled out enhanced features that allow brands to target specific demographics within their fan base and will greatly affect how brands draft their updates. Although some pages (those that have fewer than 100K fans and who wouldn't use these features anyway) will lose the targeting function altogether, others will gain the ability to target a large range of demographics including age, gender and relationship status, just to name a few. If you would like to learn more, this post from Media Bistro details how the new targeting features work.

Facebook Targeting Features


How it Affects Brands

FIAT USA Facebook UpdateBrands have long been able to target their Facebook updates based on language and geographic location. Here at Ignite Social Media, we've helped clients like FIAT USA push events to the specific cities where they will occur. Appropriately targeting these updates helps companies like FIAT ensure it isn't inviting fans to an event halfway across the country from them. In addition, these fans do not feel spammed with irrelevant posts. The greater ability to target specific demographics allows brands to be even more effective with their posts.

For one, the new targeting features will increase the efficiency of posts for brands. When a brand page makes a targeted post, it only shows up on the news feeds of a fraction of its fans. Targeting allows brands to narrow their posts down to a certain demographic – one that is more likely to engage with the post. For instance, a brand can promote a partnership with an upcoming video game to high school and college aged users, and not middle-aged professionals. These posts might not receive the same amount of impressions, but they will likely have a higher level of engagement.

See a visual representation in the image below. The post is narrowed down to young adult men in San Francisco and thus targeted to a specific number of people:

Facebook Targeting Features

Importance

So, why is this important? The obvious reason is that brands like seeing increased engagement. It means their posts are reaching the right people and not falling on deaf ears. The less obvious reason has to do with Facebook's Edgerank. Put simply, Edgerank is the algorithm that Facebook uses to decide which fans see your posts in their newsfeed. The less a fan is engaging with your brand on Facebook, the fewer of your posts will show up in their feed. More engagement means more exposure.

In addition, these enhancements should have a major impact on the way brands plan and implement promotions. Entire campaigns can now be focused more directly on a target demographic. Brands can aggregate their promotions to one page, but not overload their fans with irrelevant or redundant information. They can even cross-promote to different demographics in the same area.

Practical Examples of New Facebook Targeting Features

Take a look at some of the scenarios below to get a feel for different ways your brand can use the Facebook targeting features:

Scenario 1:

A jewelry store chain is running a Facebook promotion for a sale on engagement rings. Their marketing team realizes that men and women will not respond to posts in the same way. The store chooses to run a promotion in the cities where they have locations, and is able to use the new Facebook targeting functions to draft one set of posts tailored to men in their 20s and 30s who are "in a relationship." They then create a different set of posts targeted towards women in their 20s and 30s who are also listed as "in a relationship." The posts appear in the news feeds of only those who might be interested in purchasing engagement rings and impressions are not wasted on disinterested fans.

Scenario 2:

An online book retailer is having a sale on textbooks at the beginning of a new school year. While many people have chosen to Like their page on Facebook because of their varying interest in books, the sale is pretty obviously geared toward students. To avoid newsfeed impressions from those who prefer fiction to studying, the retailer targets their posts to fans who are undergraduate or graduate students. They can also focus some geo-specific posts to students at certain universities.

Scenario 3:

A hotel brand is trying to promote a points-based credit card to international business travelers. Since members of this audience travel frequently for one or two nights at a time, they require a very different targeting strategy than the families planning a single weeklong vacation for their families. The brand chooses to schedule a series of posts targeted to fans who have earned degrees in international business, international law and international studies. They also include a targeting option to a few specific companies they know specialize in international business.

Takeaway

Facebook is beginning to roll out new changes and additions to its post-targeting functionality. The ability to target to more specific demographics will make many posts more efficient and influence the way brands plan and operate promotions.

How do you see your brand using the new targeting features? Let us know in the comments below.


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