What are the best ways to target Facebook ads?

Much of advertising is picking the best audience to target. The more you target to people who might be receptive to your product, the better you’re likelier to do.  In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiaso, third-party data was taken out of Facebook, but the remaining options are still very powerful.  There are many ways to target Facebook ad, but I’ve found the most effective ways to target customers on Facebook is to use these three approaches:

  1. Your Current Customers (Custom Audiences)
  2. People similar to your current customers (Lookalike Audiences)
  3. People who like your competitors, or complementary services

Below is a quick guide:

Custom Audiences – This is your own CRM data. If you upload a list of emails to Facebook, they will match them with Facebook users, who you can then advertise to as a group. This is a great option for businesses that have new or seasonal products that come out. For businesses that are already large, consider segmenting this list by product, recency, or demographic,, and then crafting unique ads that appeal to them as a group in Facebook. Important note: custom audiences are a great tool for B2C businesses, but not B2B. The reason for this is that most people don’t use their work emails on Facebook, so Facebook can’t find matches in its users, since it mainly has personal emails.

Lookalike Audiences – This is one of the most powerful tools in Facebook advertising. Facebook takes a custom audience, and then constructs a larger group that has similarities to your current customers across a range of factors. The lookalike audience will be much larger than your current CRM list, but much likelier to buy than a random group of people. Note that the custom audience option needs at least 100 members in the list, with at least 20 to match in Facebook. The more people in the custom audience, the more the LaL audience is likely to be a good match, and thus likely customers.

Competitor Pages – Facebook allows you to target people who have liked any page on Facebook, not just yours. A great way to use this feature is to target competitor pages. For example, if you are in the education market, you can type in “Khan Academy” in the interests pages, and target the 1 million people who have listed Khan Academy as an interest. A lesser known way to use this, but equally helpful, is to target complementary business pages. So a cosmetic dentist might target people who have liked pages for various makeup brands, reasoning that people who are in market for makeup might also want a better smile. Thinking about complementary businesses opens up your reach, and can get your product in front of people who haven’t yet made a purchase in your category.

While there are many other options for targeting, I find these three are among the most powerful and unique to Facebook.