There’s a scene in the film The Social Network that’s always stood out to me. In this scene Eduardo Saverin explains to Sean Parker that he wants to begin monetizing Facebook through ads but Mark Zuckerberg is against it, and Eduardo wants to know who is right.
Sean Parker: “Neither of you, yet. TheFacebook is cool. That’s what it’s got going for it.”
Mark Zuckerberg: “Yeah.”
Sean Parker: “You don’t want to ruin it with ads because ads aren’t cool.”
Facebook has always been a company that catered to its users, but last week, on the heels of an underwhelming IPO and legitimate concerns about their ability to monetize an increasing number of mobile users, Facebook quietly rolled a new feature for marketers – more advanced post targeting.
Previously, page administrators were only able to target users based on location and language, but soon (the feature is rolling out over the next few weeks) there will be a plethora of options. The list includes:
- Interested In
- Relationship Status
- College Grad: College Name, Major
- In College: College Name, Major, Years
- In High School
Advanced targeting has long been a feature in Facebook’s paid ad products, and making this option available to organic posts signals a shift by Facebook from making user-based decisions to marketer-based ones. So how do we leverage this new tool? Here are five steps for taking advantage of Facebook’s new post targeting.
1. Mine Facebook Insights: If you export Page level data from Facebook Insights you can get all sorts of interesting information about the age, gender and location of your fans. Go beyond top line data such as the number of fans of a certain age group and investigate data like which user segments share your content the most or which user segments check-in to your location the most often.
2. Determine the size of each target option: When selecting advanced targeting options, Facebook will indicate the reach of that post.
Let’s say you want to know how many of your fans are married. If you target a post just to people who are married, the “Targeted to” number should be the number of fans who have listed themselves as married. By doing this for each of the different target options, you can uncover what your biggest customer segments are and learn a lot about the people who have liked your page.
3. Identify which targeting options make the most sense for your business: The way in which you target your posts will largely depend on your target customers. If I own a restaurant, I could promote a new happy hour to people over the age of 21. If I have a sporting goods manufacture, I can target a sale for basketball shoes to people who have identified themselves as “Interested in” basketball or the NBA. Take stock of all the products you sell and map them to their ideal target segments.
4. Look for opportunities in your editorial and marketing calendars: Most businesses experience some form of seasonality and have special promotions that coincide with them. For instance, with football season around the corner, DIRECTTV could publish a targeted post to people who are interested in the NFL to coincide with their push for NFL Sunday Ticket. Look ahead at all the promotions planned for your business and see which make sense to target on Facebook.
5. Test, measure, refine and iterate: Advanced post targeting is a brand new feature and it’s unclear how it will affect engagement and fan retention, so it is especially important to monitor performance against current engagement levels. Do these targeted posts drive a higher interaction rate? Do these targeted posts reduce the number of people who unlike your page or hide your posts? These are important questions you can only answer if you have an established baseline to track against.
Bonus Tip: Be cautious testing this new feature because all posts—regardless of targeting—can be seen on a Page’s Timeline. Post Targeting only affects what shows up in users News Feed; so if you have the same message written 10 different ways, posted consecutively, people who actually go to your page will see all of them.
Super Bonus Tip: Combine advanced post targeting with the Promote Post option to maximize targeted reach. By doing this you will reach close to the maximum amount of people in a given segment at a very low cost.