8 Questions to Help You Target the Right Audience on Facebook

Megan O'Neill


The ad managers for Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, let you get incredibly granular with their targeting. But how can you know if you’re targeting the right audience? We’ve put together 8 questions that can help you narrow down an optimal audience for targeting with Facebook ads.

Question #1: Where is your audience located?

First things first, where are your customers located? Being able to target people right in the vicinity of your place of business is incredibly powerful. After all, if you have a brick and mortar store or offer an in-person service, it’s really only people that are nearby that will be able to take advantage of your services.

Check out the video below for three examples of local businesses that used Facebook ads, created with Animoto, to target within their local areas. Photographer Nikki Closser was able to book 3 new clients, for $5500 in sales, with a $250 targeted ad; Nohohon Tea achieved their highest sales day on record, targeting tea lovers within a 10-15 mile radius of their store; and Like a Local Tours saw a 3X increase in revenue.

If you have an ecommerce business, local targeting can still be effective. But instead of targeting an audience where you live, think about the locations where people are likely to live that will buy your product. Look at past sales records. Do many of your sales come from the same cities? Where do the bulk of people that are following you on Facebook live?

Not sure where to find this information? Go to your Facebook Page Insights and select “People.” You can sort to see not only where all of your followers live, but where your most engaged followers live too. You’ll also find age and gender information, which will come in handy when we get to some of the other questions in this post!

Facebook Insights People

Question #2: How old are they?

Figured out where your target audience is located (be sure to take notes!)? The next step is to think about how old they are. You likely already know the average age of your customer or potential customer. But, if you don’t, using Facebook Insights, as we did above, can also be helpful.

The Facebook Ads Manager lets you get really specific with age or go broader. Selling a product that targets a very specific age group—think t-shirts that say something like “Woohoo! I’m 35!!!”? Then you can target only 35-year olds. Selling a product with a broader age range? Do a little research. For instance, the average age for getting engaged in the United states is in the late-20s. If you sell engagement rings, then you may want to narrow down your target age to 26-29-year olds in relationships to make sure you’re hitting the most relevant audience.

For some businesses, age may not matter too much. For instance, people of all ages may enjoy cooking. For these types of businesses, it’s fine to leave a broader age bracket and focus on other methods of targeting.

Facebook Targeting Age

Question #3: Are they male or female?

Are your customers mostly male? Mostly female? Mostly both? You can target people that have identified as either of these genders through the Ads Manager. This may seem like an obvious question, but your target may actually be the opposite of what you think, depending on the goal of your campaign. So be sure to think about who the buyer will be. Will it be the person that is using your product or might it be someone that’s buying your product as a gift? Whichever you choose, be sure your ad includes the right messaging for the audience you’re targeting.

Question #4: What language do they speak?

When you check your Facebook insights, you may be surprised to find that a large portion of the people that are engaging with your content speak a different language. If this is the case, think about whether you want to invest in ads in different languages.

If you are targeting people in different languages, just be sure that all of the text in whatever video or image you’re sharing matches the language you’re targeting. Also, note that it’s helpful if whatever website you might link to for additional information is also in that language. Otherwise it can make for a pretty confusing experience and your message can get lost in translation (pun intended!).

Question #5: Do your customers fall into a specific demographic?

Now it’s time to start thinking more deeply about your customers’ demographics. In Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll find “Demographics” under “Detailed Targeting,” and it refers to everything from education to financial factors like income and net worth, whether or not they own a home, when they were born, when they were married, whether they’re in a relationship, their family status, politics, where they work and what they do at their job.

Facebook Targeting Demographics

IMPORTANT NOTE: I wasn’t kidding when I said Facebook allows marketers to get incredibly granular with their targeting! That being said, it is important to note that if you get too granular it will cut down on your reach, which will adjust as you set up your ad in Ads Manager, as you can see in the image above.

So as you adjust your target audience, just be sure to keep an eye on your Estimated Daily Results. Super-targeted ads are great, but not when your target is so specific that it only encompasses a handful of potential viewers.

Question #6: What are they interested in?

You’ll also find “Interests” under “Detailed Targeting.” This is where you can specify an audience that is specific to your brand or product. Looking to target gamers? Fashionistas? Technophiles? Sports fans? Facebook makes it easy to narrow down by all sorts of interests.

You can also target your audience according to “Behaviors,” including purchase behaviors and intents.

Question #7: Where are they hanging out online?

Did you know that you could target ads according to type of device and platform? In Facebook Ads Manager under “Placements” you can choose where your ads will show up. Are your potential customers likely to be on Facebook? Instagram? Do you think they’re browsing on their mobile devices or on their computers? If you’re selling something exclusive to iOS or to Android you can even specify “Specific Mobile Devices & Operating Systems.”

If you’re targeting people on mobile devices, it’s important to think about the way your ad is structured. If people are watching on a small screen, you need to make sure any text is large and legible, and note that a square video ad will take up 78% more space on their device than a landscape one.  Brian Peters from Buffer dives into this in his article on Square vs. Landscape Video – $1.5K Worth of Experiments: Here’s How They Compare.

You can also run ads on Instagram Stories. To learn more, check out our complete guide to Instagram Story ads.

Question #8: Are you looking to reach new or existing customers?

Last but not least, think about whether you are looking to reach your current customers or new customers with your ad. You’ll likely be doing some of each with your Facebook advertising efforts. It’s easy to indicate this under “Connections.” Select “Add a connection type” and, under “Facebook Pages” you can indicate whether you’d like to target “People who like your page” or to “Exclude people who like your Page.”

Facebook Targeting Connections

You can also define a “Custom Audience,” based on an email list, to target or exclude folks that you know have purchased from you, or you can use the Facebook Pixel to target or exclude people that have visited your website.

Again, it’s important to keep your audience in mind when putting together the creative and messaging for your ad. If you’re targeting an audience that doesn’t know who you are or what your business is, you may have to explain a little more than you would if you were targeting an audience of people that are already customers or fans.

Have you used targeted advertising on Facebook already? How has it worked out for you? What targets have you found the most success with? Share your experience with us in the comments or join the conversation in the Animoto Social Video Marketing Community on Facebook.