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Facebook Targeting 101: A Primer on Options and Audience Size

Published: August 29, 2014

Author: Kristina McLane

A question that I generally get from new Facebook advertisers is: how large should my target audience be? It is a good question that every person has a different answer for. The first part of understanding audience size is to understand the types of Facebook targeting available outside of Custom Audiences.

Types of Targeting

The following are the targeting options available within Facebook. Each type of targeting can be layered to create your ideal target audience based on demographics, behaviors and interests. 
Demographics: These are more obvious targeting options based on the basic statistics of your typical client.  Location, age, gender, relationship status, and education should be pretty straightforward. The additional types of demographics to choose from are work, financial, home, ethnic affinity, generation, parent, politics, and life events. Most are clear on what you will find within each type of demographic. However, life events take a little bit of extra explanation. These range from upcoming birthdays to recent changes in relationship status, location, or jobs. 
Interests: When targeting interests, you are looking for individuals who have self-proclaimed these particular interests. Interests are determined by page likes, keywords on their timelines, and specific apps that they use on Facebook.
Categories: Interests and categories work very similarly! Categories are created from people’s interests and actions on Facebook. The only difference is that categories are already defined and allow you to browse through multiple preexisting interest groups. Interests have millions of additional attributes that can be added based on the keywords that you have already chosen.
Behaviors: Behaviors are determined by a user’s actions both on Facebook and offline. These range from charitable donations to recent home buys. Behaviors are useful when there is a very specific action that defines them as a potential customer. For example, an audience can be created from Facebook users who have recently purchased a used Acura. If there is a specific action that defines your typical customer, behavior helps cut down audience size. 
Connections: Connections allow you to target or exclude people who already like your page or app. If you are trying to introduce new individuals to your brand, excluding users who already like your page, or targeting users who are friends of your connections, is a good way to work with new audiences.
When deciding what to target in a new Facebook account, I start with a combination of demographics, connections, and interests.

Why I Use Saved Target Groups

They save time. If there are certain demographics that will be used for every ad, I put them in a saved target group. For example, if my product is only for men, over 30, who live Texas, Indiana, or New Jersey, I put all those demographics in my target group, rather than recreate the targeting each time.

So How Large Should Your Target Audience Be? 

The size of your audience should reflect how much money you have to spend. The smaller the daily budget, the smaller the size of your audience. Custom Audiences are treated differently, because they are considered prequalified traffic.
When starting out a brand-new account with only estimates on CTR and CPC, I generally like to take daily budget and multiply by 2000. It is by no means perfect, but gives me an estimate to work towards. If want to spend $50/day in one campaign, I will need an audience of at least 100,000. This number is large enough to get data, but small enough that you know where the data is coming from.
Do you have your own answer for how large should a target audience be?

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