Facebook Ads Target Audiences 101: The Ultimate Guide

Targeting ads to precisely tailored audiences can increase CTR, drive traffic to your website, build brand awareness, or achieve any other advertising goal. 

Crafting the right marketing message and choosing attractive creatives is helpful, but the real challenge is reaching the right people. That’s why you should dig into Facebook Ads target audiences and rock your targeting. Keep on reading to check out the details and get inspired by our targeting ideas.

What are Facebook Ads Target Audiences?

A Facebook audience is the group of people you want to reach with your ad. Facebook creates an opportunity for businesses to choose demographics, locations, and interests of its users so that they can receive the most relevant ads. 

How to target an audience with Facebook ads?

You can create and manage Facebook Ads target audiences in your Business Manager in the ‘Audiences’ section. 

You can also find a summary of every created audience there, as well as usage in campaigns and a history of changes within a particular audience. Therefore, you can manage your audiences to update target groups and optimize your efforts. 

Another way to create Facebook Ads target audiences is to craft one while setting up an ad campaign in your Ad Manager. During this process, you can choose your pre-defined audiences or create a new one (and save it if you’d like to use it again in the future). 

Facebook audience creation preview

Finally, you can create a Facebook audience while using the ‘Boost post’ option that appears below every published post on your brand’s profile. You can run your campaigns on the go, but always pay attention to a well-targeted audience. Nevertheless, for advanced targeting options, you have to go to Ads Manager

creating Facebook audiences when boosting a social media post

As you can see, there are three ways of creating Facebook Ads target audiences. The most advanced and beneficial method may be using the Ads Manager and Audience section, because you can select the type of audience and target precise groups.  

Using Ads Manager gives you access to some features that are not available through the “Boost Post” option, for example. We’re talking about audiences, but also about ways of reaching them effectively. Via Ads Manager, you can choose such advanced options as displaying ads on specific devices to narrow your Facebook Ads target audiences even further.  

Types of Facebook Audiences

Facebook provides four types of Facebook Ads target audiences so that marketers have a lot of options to target their potential customers. Read on to find out more. 

Facebook Saved Audience

You can store your commonly used targeting settings for future campaigns and save time on choosing the same options multiple times. To reach your target group, you can select demographics, interests, and behaviors. 

When it comes to demographics-based targeting, Facebook enables you to determine Facebook Ads target audiences based on the following demographics of users:

  • Location (country, region or city) – you can include or exclude one or more locations to narrow down your audience, as well as choose among the additional options of  people living in this location, people currently in this location, or people traveling to this location.
  • Age – you can show your ads only to adults by choosing an age range from 18 to 65+, for example.
  • Gender – you can select men, women or “all”.
  • Language – enter a language to show your ads to people who use a particular language.

Facebook demographic targeting can be very precise. You can also choose particular traits such as educational, financial, life events, relationships, work, and even determine if your target group is represented by parents of children who are a specific age. 

Interest-based targeting allows you to reach specific Facebook Ads target audiences by looking at their interests, activities, the Pages they have liked, and closely related topics. It’s a great way to advertise your products or services to potential customers who have specific interests and hobbies. You can browse interests in the menu or type your own suggestions to find the most suitable options. 

Behavior-based targeting can be handy as well. It enables you to target users who have completed a certain action, such as purchased a product using Facebook Payments in the last 30 days, celebrated anniversaries, frequent travelers, and many more. The wide range of available behaviors creates incredible opportunities for brands to show relevant ads and increase conversions. 

When to use?

A saved audience, also known as a core audience, can be used in various cases. First of all, it’s suitable for businesses that start their marketing on Facebook. Core Facebook Ads target audiences can help them explore the market and gather data to conduct further and more advanced campaigns, and experiment with Facebook targeting options. Second of all, this option can be useful as a target group for creating Lookalike Audiences. Facebook provides many possibilities for mixing types of Facebook Ads target audiences, so a well-tailored core audience can be extremely helpful. 

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Facebook Custom Audience

This type of audience can be highly effective, but it’s also challenging to create. Via this kind of Facebook Ads target audiences, you can connect with people who have already shown an interest in your business or product based on your sources, such as customer contacts, website traffic, mobile app or offline activity (people who have interacted with your brand by phone, in-store, etc.). Make sure that you have enough records on your list – this option might not work with just a few contacts (Facebook may display an “Audience too small” alert not let you run any ads). The right size database will also allow you to test, scale, and optimize your performance.

By adding Facebook tracking pixels to your website, you can track users’ behavior on your page and use that information in your campaigns. Therefore, you can tailor your Facebook Ads target audiences based on events you want to focus on, such as purchases, sign-ups, adding items to a shopping cart, and more. 

Providing Facebook with customer lists allows you to target specific users. The more identities (email address, phone number, mobile advertiser ID, Facebook app user ID, Facebook Page user ID, first name, surname) you can upload, the better the match rate with Facebook.  

You can also make the most of Facebook’s sources to create a custom audience based on people who have:

  • watched your videos on Facebook or Instagram
  • opened or completed a form in one of your lead generation ads
  • interacted with your products in a shopping experience (shop section or tagged products on Facebook and Instagram)
  • opened your Instant Experience on Facebook or Instagram
  • visited or interacted with your Instagram professional account or posts
  • interacted with your events on Facebook
  • followed or have interacted with your Facebook Page
Creating a custom audience on Facebook

When to use?

Retargeting options can work wonders for brands that run advanced campaigns and collect information about their customers. For example, if you: 

  • have built a vast newsletter list with GDPR consent for using the data in your marketing campaigns
  • have ran some campaigns before and you can retarget your ads to remind users about your content or products, for instance, retarget Facebook Ads target audiences who watched your videos but haven’t visited your website
  • are co-organizing an event and you’d like to reach people interested in other events, then such an audience can be more engaged in your content and willing to sign up for upcoming concerts or festivals
  • have an advanced marketing funnel, and you can retarget people with relevant content and generate valuable leads. 

Facebook Lookalike Audience

This option can be used to target people who are similar to the Facebook Ads target audiences you’ve already identified. You can tailor a lookalike audience based on a retargeting pixel, custom audience, people who like your Facebook Page, and more. Thanks to this option, you can reach more users who match your target group.  Facebook uses advanced algorithms to find people who are suitable for your Facebook Ads target audiences. This way you can expand your target group to relevant people instead of guessing who might be interested in your offer.

First, you need to define your core audience to show Facebook what type of customers you’d like to reach. To narrow down your targeting of Facebook Ads target audiences, you can select audience location and audience size. That way, you’ll determine additional conditions and create a more precise target group. 

Creating a lookalike audience on Facebook

When to use?

Lookalike Audiences can be effective for brands that have already run campaigns effectively and know who is their ideal customer. Use Lookalike Audience when:

  • you’ve used all of your sources for creating Custom Audiences, and you’d like to expand your reach
  • your Saved Audience was resultful in one location, and you’d like to reach similar people in other cities, regions, or countries.  

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Facebook Special Ad Audience 

This type of audience is extraordinary because it can only be used to advertise credit, employment, and housing. The mechanism corresponds to that of the Lookalike Audience. You need to select data sources, such as Custom Audience, so that the system can find people who have similar interests and behaviors online. A Special Ad Audience is compliant with the audience selection restrictions associated with your chosen special ad category. You can also select audience location and size depending on your business goals. 

11 Facebook targeting options to boost performance

Besides the basic Facebook targeting options, there are plenty of opportunities to maximize your efforts and get really creative with your Facebook Ads target audiences. Check out our pro-tips and get inspired for your future campaigns!

#1 Using Facebook Audience Insights 

Learn more about your target group from the Audience Insights section. You can check out information about all Facebook users or people connected to your Page. You can learn about user demographics, locations, and activities. Such research can give you an idea of who your existing and potential customers are and how to reach them. Therefore, you can make the most of Facebook demographic targeting.

#2 Targeting based on saved posts

Facebook allows you to target people who have saved your posts. It can be a great opportunity to remind your followers about content that they wanted to check out later. This target group can be narrow, but it’s very engaged as it includes users who have already shown interest in your posts. 

#3 Excluding existing followers

As you can imagine, your followers match your Facebook ads target audience. When promoting your page and content to new users, remember to exclude people who are already engaging with your content. This way, you’ll avoid causing user frustration and focus on reaching new Facebook Ads target audiences. 

#4 Targeting based on several major cities

If your products or services are suitable for people who live in bigger cities, you might want to target the whole country. Unfortunately, that way you’ll reach many users who live in smaller cities and villages. Therefore, it’s worth choosing multiple locations manually and reaching a tailored audience. 

#5 Using pins and post-codes for precise locations

Another social media tip is to use pins for narrowing your Facebook Ads target audiences down. Pins determine a location within a one kilometer radius, and post-codes can be more precise than a whole city as well. When advertising events, shopping malls, or restaurants, etc., you can make the most of these Facebook targeting options. 

#6 Retargeting people who have clicked on specific links

Using Facebook retargeting pixels can be resultful for companies, but sometimes it’s not precise enough. Thanks to tools like RocketLink, you can shorten any URL and add retargeting pixels to them. That way, you can make the most of external content shared with your followers or in Facebook groups. By tracking people who have clicked your links on Facebook, but also on other social media platforms or a newsletter, etc., you can create a precise Custom Audience and reach users who are highly interested in specific topic or products. 

#7 Targeting operating systems

When promoting a mobile app you can choose to target only users who are on a given operating system. This way you can avoid causing frustration because customers will only see relevant ads and they can download the app on their OS. 

#8 Reminding about unfinished shopping or sign-ups

You can add retargeting pixels to multiple pages. Use these to track customers’ behavior on your website and retarget people who have added products to carts but haven’t finalised the purchase, or have started a sign-up process to your newsletter, platform, or any other form but haven’t completed it. This can be especially helpful for mobile-devices users, as their shopping or sign-ups could easily be interrupted on the go. 

#9 Avoiding mobile targeting for non-mobile-friendly websites

Nowadays, every business needs to optimize their websites for mobile users. It’s not a trend; it should be a standard. Nevertheless, if your page isn’t mobile-ready yet, exclude targeting ads to mobile devices to avoid redirecting users to an unresponsive website. 

#10 Targeting people who make purchasing decisions

Some products are meant to be used by certain people, but someone else is making the purchasing decision. A great example is a brand that sells toys for kids. In that case, the target group includes parents of kids who are a certain age – such an option is provided within demographic traits. You can also target users by life events to advertise particular products or services. For example, a jewelry company can try to reach people who added engagement as a life event to their profiles in the last 6 months, with wedding ring offers.

#11 Targeting based on customer LTV

By adding a well-crafted customer list with clients who have a high lifetime value, Facebook can help you reach similar people. This way, you can gain new customers and maximize your chances to reach the most beneficial target groups. 

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5 tricky Facebook targeting options you should be aware of

#1 Targeting users who sent you a message

Even though it sounds like an amazing opportunity to reach users engaged in communication with your brand, take a moment to think about customers who usually interact with your business via Messenger. Yes, very often, such messages include complaints. Don’t push your offer to people who have just complained about your products or customer support. 

#2 Reaching anyone who has visited your page

Sometimes users can visit a page by mistake or for many other reasons than being interested in your offer. No matter how resultful this technique might seem, it can be disappointing because of imprecise targeting. A lack of segmentation can result in a higher cost per click and decreased effectiveness.  

#3 Targeting based on a Lookalike Audience

Facebook algorithms are not transparent, so marketers can’t be sure how the system matches users with the provided data. You can try out this option, but be aware of its limitations. 

#4 Narrowing your target group too much

In this article, we’ve been trying to convince you to put effort into precise targeting. How come narrowing your audience can be adverse for your marketing performance? Facebook won’t accept too small Facebook Ads target audiences, and you’ll have to expand your criteria. Such a narrowed audience may also be insufficient in the long run.

#5 Choosing the wrong type of interest

When browsing interests, you need to pay attention to the details. For example, if you’d like to target people who are interested in learning digital marketing and you type this phrase, you’ll also see suggestions regarding job title and employer. Therefore, you should choose the options deliberately. 

Choosing interests in Facebook Ads Manager

To wrap up

Facebook provides almost endless possibilities for precise targeting. Once you dig into the most advanced options, you’ll find that you can indeed reach your target group. Don’t hesitate to try out different types of Facebook Ads target audiences, mix them, and optimize your campaigns. Start with exploring Facebook Audience Insights and learning more about your followers. We hope that now you have some ideas about how to target your audience with Facebook ads. 

Did you know that in Kontentino you can plan your Facebook ads and export them to Business Manager


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Kinga Edwards

Kinga Edwards

Owner & Creative Director at Brainy Bees. She believes that insights are everywhere!
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