Facebook and Instagram ads are only effective if they reach the right people. The best way to ensure that your ad dollars are spent well is to take the time to build out highly targeted audiences.


Before Facebook’s ad platform became smart, marketers were forced to advertise to massive audiences. This was usually over a million users for each campaign segment. When you had small advertising budgets, you spent more money on finding, rather than immediately reaching, the right people. Thankfully, Facebook’s various ad targeting methods have made the process much more effective. If you know how to segment your audiences.


These days, it’s a matter of giving Facebook the right information so it can do the hard work of finding those people most likely to engage with your content immediately. Using a mix of demographics and interests is a good place to start, but there are three types of audience groups that are often overlooked. And these groups can yield the most efficient ROAs. Whether you’re advertising on Facebook, Instagram, or both, make sure you include these segmentations in your campaigns.

Engaged Followers

With the way organic reach is trending these days, it’s hard to rely on organic posts to reach any significant portion of your existing followers. The Custom Audiences tool allows you to build an audience segment comprised of only those people who have engaged with your brand’s Facebook or Instagram post (or previous ad). It also enables you to choose a specific duration. Once this audience group is established it can be included or, more importantly, excluded from your campaigns depending on the goals. You’ll want to include this audience when there is important brand news to share and exclude it when ad messaging is targeted to new fans.

Influencer Audiences

Building influencer relationships maximizes a campaign’s reach and success. One of the best ways to ensure that the influencer content you’ve worked so hard on co-creating reaches more people is to give it a slight paid boost. Within Facebook’s Business Manager, you can designate an influencer as a Partner and access their Facebook and Instagram audiences. Build a custom group based on followers who have engaged with the influencer’s posts within the past 30 days.

Geo-targeted Audiences

Geotargeting can be a powerful tool for national campaigns. Breaking a campaign’s audience into Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA) regions allows you to craft messaging for specific locales which, often times, drives better ad results. A brand will almost always resonate better in certain markets than others and this may change over the course of the year.

No matter which of the various audience segmentation methods are used, be sure to layer on demographic and interest targeting, as well. It’s a fine balance. Too broad and you’ll spend more money than you need to on results. Too narrow and chances are you won’t be able to spend your full ad budget. Start with 100,000 to 200,000 as an audience size and continue to test to find the sweet spot for your brand and campaign.

About the Author

Emily Lyman founded Branch & Bramble to cut through the usual marketing lingo and drive real results that can create a better world. Featured on CO— by U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Social Media Today, she champions marketing that is valuable to both the brand and the consumer. She’s frequently nerding out over data and you can find her on Twitter @emilylyman.

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