A Hack for Facebook Ads Interest Target Marketing


The Problem


If you’re new to Facebook ads… chances are you’re struggling right now. This is not an easy discipline and it’s easy to get discouraged as you watch your dollars getting eaten up by Facebook – with very little return on your investment.


I know the feeling well.


You sit there with your finger poised to turn off that ad that’s doing nothing. But you’re also thinking “just maybe it’s about to take off and I should leave it a little longer”. So you do that and soon you’re another $10 into the red… and your ad’s still doing nothing.


Like I said – it’s not easy. It’s not an on/off cash machine you can plunder whenever you need it. And learning these lessons is painful.


But you can shortcut this learning process with a few strategic hacks. I’m going to give you some of these over the next few weeks. The first one is the subject of this post.


Let’s face it – we all struggle when we start advertising on Facebook. It’s a minefield of options and choices. And the best advice the grizzled veterans of FB advertising can offer is ‘test everything’. To me this is like saying there are no rules and nobody knows what will work till it works… or doesn’t work.


And it assumes that we all have the money to spend on infinite testing till we come up with a few winners.


There’s nothing wrong with testing and you have to do it. But you need to move towards a situation where you are testing candidates with a higher chance of success. The idea is you run tests where all the candidates ‘work’ – and you eliminate candidates that don’t work as well as the others. When this happens, this whole process becomes a lot more fun. You start thinking about how much you could make as opposed to panicking about how much you might lose.


To get you back in the right frame of mind, you need to get some winners under your belt – and you can only do that using the options available to you right now. And you can do that with a bit of help. In this post I’m going to show you a ‘hack’ you can use right now for targeting Facebook Interests.


The big winners in Facebook advertising use custom audiences. They do that because they can target people who have already shown some interest in their product. They also do that so they can target people who already ‘know’ them. They also know that many people will not buy on first exposure to a product… so they use custom audiences to ‘gently prod’ them into making a buying decision through multiple exposure to their ads..


Beginners can’t do that because they have nothing to build a custom audience from.


Apart from their experience, seasoned advertisers have no advantage other than custom audiences. They still have to come up with right images, copy and placement to make their ads work… just like the novice does. But custom audiences do give them a big advantage.


If you’re not in that position – you have to rely on Facebook’s ‘Interests’ for target marketing to get your ad in front of the right people.


What are Facebook Interests?


Interests are Facebook pages which generally have a fairly large number of likes. The assumption here by Facebook seems to be that if a Page which is centered on a specific niche receives a like – then the person who liked that page is interested in that niche.


And if a lot of people like that page, then the likers of that page form a nice big relevant audience for advertisers selling into that niche.


Is this a reasonable assumption? Let’s analyse it.


How many times have you liked something on Facebook without having any specific interest in it?


You might have liked an image or a motivational quote without knowing or caring about the niche of the page or person who generated the post. You might have liked something because one of your friends liked it. You could have liked something because you want your friends to think you’re interested in it. A like as often as not is a throwaway gesture. Likes have become so cheap they’re almost a meaningless currency.


And an audience consisting largely of people who have liked a page in a similarly thoughtless fashion is going to be worse than useless to you.


When we build an audience to show our ads to, we are target marketing. We are trying to build a solid list of relevant people who are in our target market. And a simple like to a relevant Facebook page does not qualify any user to be included in that target market.



and this is a big but, when like patterns begin to show some consistency they take on a whole new significance.


What does this mean?


Very simply, if a pattern can be observed in a Facebook user’s like behavior i.e. he or she likes several different posts or pages which clearly fall within the same niche or category – this is exponentially more significant than a single like.


So what we need to do – when assessing whether a Facebook Interest is a reasonable choice to show our ad to – is find out what else the people in that Interest are also liking. We need to know whether they have liked other things which are connected with the niche we are targeting.


And Facebook helps us do this with a tool called Audience Insights.


Audience Insights


You can find it by clicking the small down arrow on the right side of the blue bar at the top of your Facebook page.


navigation aid audience insights 1. target marketing



Then click ‘manage adverts’. From that page, top left you will see a ‘pages’ icon (3 horizontal bars). Click that and then click Audience Insights.


navigation aid audience insights 2. target marketing


Select United States or your own target country, then scroll down to Interests.



navigation aid audience insights 3. target marketing


I’m going to target the Network Marketing niche for this exercise. We’ll start with Ray Higdon. He’s a  NM authority and has a huge page. He is very commonly used as an interest to target network marketers.


Type Ray Higdon into the box and you will get a Ray Higdon public figure suggestion. Click to select it as an interest.


(If you have no idea of potential interests for the niche you want to target – go to create advert in the dropdown from the small arrow as described earlier. Select ‘website conversion’ as an ad type and click to continue. Then scroll down to ‘detailed targeting’ and simply enter the name of the niche into the that box. ‘Network Marketing’ would be an example of this. Facebook will come up with suggestions – copy a few of them and go back to Audience Insights where you can test them)


After you select Ray Higdon public figure, at the top of the page you will see ‘700 – 800K monthly active people’ – around 25 000 daily active visitors. That looks good doesn’t it? But let’s go deeper and find out a little more about these people.


Click on the Page Likes tab right below the monthly active users information. This is what you’ll see.


navigation aid audience insights 4. target marketing


The first thing I notice here is there are only 5 categories in the results. This tells me that Facebook knows very little about these people. This is probably because they are not very active on Facebook and Facebook has very little ‘self reported’ profile information on them.


They would have visited the Ray Higdon page at some point but that on it’s own is not sufficient information to consider them as a target.


If we scroll down further we see this:


Interest page likes. target marketing


These are Facebook pages that are likely to be relevant to the Ray Higdon interest based on pages they have liked in the past. Facebook is telling us that the users contained in the Ray Higdon interest are likely to be interested in these pages.


And as you can see, there’s little here that has much to do with network marketing.


We advertise on Facebook because of what we assume they know about their users. In this example, what we’ve learned from Facebook is that this audience actually has very little interest in network marketing.


And we’ve also learned that Facebook probably doesn’t know much about these users.


So would we use this interest for our network marketing ad? We would not.


Yet this interest has been suggested to us by Facebook as an interest to target for network marketing ads.


Why is that?


I would look at these probable reasons:


  • Facebook has very little information on these users?
  • Many of these users are not very active on Facebook?
  • Network marketing fan pages tend to have a lot of motivational/self help stuff on them. Many of these likes could be from users who like the content, but not necessarily network marketing?
  • Many Facebook users simply like things that already have a lot of likes. Herd mentality?


Audience Insights is mostly there to give us demographic and other information about the audiences we target with interests. Based on the insights we’ve seen above, I wouldn’t go near this audience for a network marketing ad.


And while I’m here, if you get one of these…


Interests no result. target marketing


don’t even think about using this interest. Facebook knows almost nothing about the people in this interest.




So let’s look at a better Interest now. This one is Eric Worre – Network Marketing Pro. Like Ray Higdon this is another interest suggested to us when we’re trying to target network marketers.


Eric Worre is another big influencer in network marketing


Good interests. target marketing


Immediately we can see Facebook has a lot more knowledge about the users in this interest. This is comforting. Secondly, the information they have indicates a high degree of relevance to the network marketing niche. Let’s have a look at the Facebook likes…


Good likes result. target marketing


Same again here, wall to wall network marketing.


So would you have any difficulty here choosing between the Ray Higdon and Eric Worre interests to use in your targeting?


No? I thought not. It’s very clear when you dig a little deeper which of the suggested interests stand a better chance of being a relevant audience for your ad.


Be selective


Don’t make the mistake of just selecting a bunch of interests on the principle that you’ll get a mix of good and bad – and the good ones will ensure you get some response for your ad. All you’re doing there is diluting your chances of success, raising your costs and lowering your relevance score.


Pick between 1 and 3 interests which pass the test I’ve described in this post and try and get an audience size of between 300 and 600 000 by combining them. That seems to be the sweet spot for me.


Of course you have to get the creative right as well, but that’s a subject for another blog post. What you will find is if you get your audience right, your ad will be profitable even if your creative leaves something to be desired. If you get them both right, you’ll see startling results if your offer’s good one.


But I’m going off topic here. We’ve already covered most of what this post is about.


A few more things


By implementing the Audience Insights hack I’ve talked about above you will be able to get some audiences that work for you. But in the longer term you really should test each viable interest you come up with on it’s own.


That means coming up with an ad which is working with an audience containing several interests that you selected with this method. Once you know it’s working and you’ve extracted some value from it – rest it for a week, then do this:


Test the successful ad against each single interest individually to work out which the best one is. Let the ads run to at least 1000 impressions on each interest before turning it off – or leave it running, if it’s profitable. Finding great interests that work for your product is an integral part of target marketing.


And remember – run each ad in a different campaign. Facebook optimizes performance in every campaign by allocating more money to the best performing ad. This will distort your results.


Make detailed notes of everything in a spreadsheet. In this way you can build a list of assets which will become invaluable. Great interests, great images, great copy – all stuff you can can put to work again for you in the future.


And look after these assets and don’t overuse them. As soon as the performance starts dropping off, give them a break – even if you’re still making money from them.


Before you go – head over to this post to get a quick idea of the bigger picture and a longer term perspective on your FB ads. It’s important!


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My Thanks


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