The Correct Way to do Facebook Interest Targeting

/ January 13, 2018/ Advertising, Advice, Commentary, Facebook, Microtargeting, Social Media, Strategy/ 0 comments

If you are wondering how come Facebook ads seem to follow you around, here’s how: Its called Facebook Interest Targeting. As a marketer you need to know how to make it work for you.

How do you know how you’ve been Facebook Targeted?

If you check out my Youtube channel there’s a video I did showing how to find out how Facebook advertises to you. In fact Facebook is the only advertiser online that is this transparent. This is before all the mess that occured with the US Election in 2015. That is, all the ads from Russians trying to get US citizens to vote for Donald Trump.


So now you know how Facebook does it, let’s go into a little more detail. Facebook uses “interests” of its users to determine how to target them with messaging. If you had liked Arsenal Football Club’s page, for example, Facebook records you being interested in the following: football, sports and Arsenal. You are now part of a collective of people who like these things. As an advertiser you can then target your ads to people with these interests. It’s a very simple idea, but it’s not a simple process to execute effectively.

Facebook Interest Targeting relies on data. A lot of data.

The more data that exists the more Facebook can offer up insights to its users. Its a type of analysis that one only previously saw in science fiction. In reality Facebook is simply grouping user interactions into categories and further sub diving them. You can be pretty granular and get down to a specific niche if you wanted to. In large global markets, this is not only a must, but extremely cost effective. You are feeding a message to a specific individual or small group that will be receptive to your message.

The days of giant scattershot messaging are over. Now you are showing a message to someone who ultimately acts on it by performing an action. This is the ultimate goal of Facebook advertising: conversion to a customer.

Facebook Interest Targeting in smaller markets

In smaller markets such as Trinidad & Tobago the data is less complex. Out of a population of 1.5 million there are currently 600–700 thousand monthly active people on Facebook. So immediately you have a smaller market to work with and your advertising by its very existence is “niche.” This data is readily available to anyone in the Facebook advertiser system. A service you can access here.

So should you just run an ad to all these people on Facebook? You could, but what would be the result? The average cost of a Facebook ad to run per day is now a minimum of US$2. So depending on your sales you will need to recover at least a minimum of TT$15 a day to make the ad worthwhile. So throwing $US5 or $US10 at Facebook and hoping people click the ad is not the smart way to do it.

The smart way is to sit down and with a plan and target the users you know will be interested in your ad. In the beginning you may not be sure if this is your market, in fact you may be totally off with your assumptions. This is why when you start a new campaign on Facebook you run multiple versions of the same creative and after a period of time discover what works.

Don’t forget your overall objective

Remember your objective is to make money, not lose it or give it away to Facebook. Give yourself one month of testing and within two weeks you will be able to modify the campaign to get more conversions and ultimately make more money. We are no longer in the age of throwing money into campaigns just for the sake of “brand recognition” we are now in the age of conversions. Everything is about “the funnel”. More on that in another post.

So I’m going to give you some examples of ads that were fed to me personally as well as some others that did their targeting and creative well. Mind you this is not a critique of any brands marketing strategy, as I have no idea what’s the strategy, but by looking at the “Why am I seeing this” we can see how you too can target your ads more effectively. So let’s dive in and see what’s out there.

Some examples of Facebook Interest Targeting that I found

I see a lot of bmobile ads, not because I’m a customer but because they are advertising to everyone in T&T. If you are a new brand starting out and you want to know who or what is converting when clicking your ad this is a good start. However, after almost 7 years of advertising online, you would think bmobile might have a better idea of targeting. Also once I click and sign up for a VISA card, for example, I should see different ads telling me of discounts, if any, or deals I can get with the card. Sadly bmobile offers none of those things. A topic for another discussion.


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Don’t forget that people often choose “Not relevant” and “I see it too often” when the ad doesn’t line up with their interests even if they are loyal customers.

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Fredericks of Hollywood

I am currently doing work for Intimate Affairs, check out my new branding for them here. Because I have searched for their competition online, I am now in the “remarketing” bracket. Very good targeting on the part of Fredericks as Valentines is approaching and men are buying for their significant others. I think “Men in a Relationship” is a much better target for this ad. But maybe this is part of the test?

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Cindy F. Daniel

Cindy F. Daniel. I do not know who you are, and neither do I care, unfortunately. This ad is a “like my page” ad and I have hidden it. It’s not a disaster, the page admin is probably trying to see who clicks like from this ad. Not a very effective way of finding your niche market. But it’s ok for a beginning. Just because I like music doesn’t automatically mean I like this genre.

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Furniture Plus

The Facebook Interest Targeting employed in this ad is too generic and the creative: “Nobody undersells us. Nobody!” is vague and unconvincing. I have no reason to believe and it is totally out of sync with the visual. I wonder now the overall spend promoting this page and what is the overall goal?

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Case study for properly Facebook Targeted Ad – Buffer

Some years ago the social media management app Buffer, did an experiment. What could they get for US$5? Quite a lot at the time actually. Targeting interests like “Social Media” and excluding the existing fans of the page Buffer got 9 Likes and 787 new people reached per day. Buffer discovered that with a human centric post and zooming in their target audience they were able to get the most bang for their buck. I talk about the right way to set up a Facebook ad image in this post with some free templates to download.

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Find great examples of Facebook ads and their targeting below:

  1. AdEspresso by Hootsuite is great place to be inspired by all kinds of digital advertising.
  2. Swiped is another place to get good ideas and best practices. They do breakdown a lot of the ads to show why they are successful.
  3. Facebook case studies and success stories are a good place to go as well.
  4. Digital Marketer has a good article on how to successfully use interests as well as the Social Media Examiner.
  5. Youtube has a ton of resources on Facebook Interest Targeting, the one I recommend is a 45 minute video by Fred Lam.
  6. 13 Facebook Ad Interest case studies. It’s a little old, but still relevant.


This has been an exceptionally long post, I apologise, thank you for reading to the end. I hope you have a better understanding focussing your campaigns to get the most out of Facebook advertising.

If you’re confused and need help at this point, drop me a comment or get in contact. I can show you how to maximize your profit online. Using an overall digital marketing strategy if you have experience with Facebook Interest Targeting and would like to share your experiences please do so below. Thanks for reading.

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