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Search Marketer's Guide to Facebook Marketing, Part 2: Interest Targeting

Published: September 25, 2012

Author: Chris Knoch


interest targeting
I spy an interest.

For part 2 of my Search Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Marketing (part 1 is here), I’m going to take a moment to focus on one of the more confusing aspects to a newbie of Facebook Marketing: Interest Targeting. The tools that are used for this are known as “Suggested Likes & Interests” tools, which are very similar to the well-known search keyword suggestion tools (the most popular of which is in AdWords). Similarly, there are many tools out there that offer (or claim to offer – remember to test!) more targeting insights than Facebook does out of the box.
In this case, I’m going to continue the analogy of search keywords to Facebook keywords, and try to clear up some confusion and connect a few dots for my dear readers. Here we go!
Facebook Keywords vs. Search Keywords – You may have heard people referring to “Facebook Keywords.” These are not to be confused with search keywords, but there are some similarities that can help search marketers better understand these targeting options. First, the term Facebook Keywords typically refers to Interest Targeting, which is one of several including Location, Age, Gender, Birthday, Education, and Connections Targeting.
Much like Search Keywords and their use of broad, phrase, and exact targeting options, Facebook Keywords are divided into different types of targeting: Precise Targeting (with the hash-tagged and non-hash-tagged versions) and Broad Category Targeting.
running interest target
One of these people likes running.

Think of Precise Targeting keywords without hash tags as an exact match type keyword. In this case, if you are targeting an audience with the Interest Targeting “running,” you will only reach those people who have specifically shown interest in running in their timeline (or page, as it was previously called). If you were to include a hash tag to target “#running,” this acts a bit more like a cross between phrase and broad search keyword matching in that it will seek out an audience that has shown interest in highly related interests like “running tips,” “jogging,” “marathons,” etc.
Finally, we have Broad Category Targeting (BCT), which acts even more broadly than a broad match search keyword. In this case, Facebook goes well beyond the specifically mentioned interests in the timeline. Instead, Facebook uses its own proprietary targeting solution that looks for signals across a person’s activities, education, job, the types of pages they like, etc., to determine a broader set of interests (for example, expectant mothers who haven’t exactly listed babies as an interest in their timeline).
Tips for Use – Just know that if you use Interest Targeting that is too precise, your audience may be too small to even get a good sample of traffic. Try to target your ads to audiences larger than 10,000 people or so to start. Better yet, start slightly bigger with Precise Targeting Options, and work your way down over time to a more precise by effective set of targeting.
When it comes to Broad Category Targeting (BCT), I continue to hear/see mixed results. In my opinion, the results vary greatly from one BCT target to the next. So much like the rest of your work with Facebook Ads, I would suggest several iterations of testing with a test budget until you are sure that a particular BCT is going to work for you.
Finally, Facebook does offer the option to add both BCT and Precise Targeting together for one ad, but it’s generally a best practice to keep these separated until you’ve really honed in on a set that works. A good analogy to search marketing here would be the common practice where search marketers group their high-performing keywords together (after extensive testing) and give them uncapped budgets because they know they will perform.
That should do it for now. I have several more search-to-social analogies that I’m working on for future posts, and if this was any help I do hope to continue the trend as we keep deep diving into other topics. Please be sure to leave comments below about any topics you find particularly challenging, and I’ll work to add them to my list of topics to dissect from a search marketer’s perspective. Good luck!
Chris Knoch

1 S Wacker Drive
Suite 2250

Chicago, IL 60606(650) 539-4124


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