#029: Facebook Ad Targeting Strategies

On this episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast, we talked all about Facebook ad targeting. But before we get to that, I wanted to tell you about some changes coming your way related to my podcast.

First, starting in June I am going record one episode per week, rather than every other week like I have been doing. Look out for some extra podcast love coming your way!

Second, I am going to add an extra layer to my podcast and start recording an “Ask Amy” segment where you get to send me your questions and I will address them on my show. In full disclosure I took this idea from my good friend, Pat Flynn who now has a show called AskPat. I called Pat to ask if he minded, and in true Pat fashion, he encouraged me to go for it. Gotta love good friends like that.

So if you would like me to address any questions you might have about online marketing, Facebook marketing, list building, content creation, webinars – anything goes – so just go to www.amyporterfield.com/askamy and you can be one of the first to leave me a question.

OK, switching gears, let’s get back to our topic for today, Facebook ad targeting. I’ve invited my really good friend, Rick Mulready to come on the show with me so we could talk about what we both are seeing that’s working right now with ad targeting.

Rick has an extensive online marketing background and teaches Facebook advertising to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The cool thing is that he is in the trenches daily experimenting with ad campaigns and getting some pretty big results; the guy knows his stuff.

So Rick lives in San Diego and lately we’ve been meeting up at Starbucks and sharing insights about our experiences with Facebook ads. (Does that sound super geeky? We can’t help it – we love this ad stuff!) The discussions have been so good that I wanted to get Rick on the show and invite you all into one of the most valuable discussions we’ve had, which is focused on Facebook ad targeting.

In this episode, here’s what we’ll cover:

  • The most valuable Facebook ad targeting options, including Interests, Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.
  • Which targeting option to choose when you are just starting out.
  • How to target your website visitors with your Facebook ads.
  • How to expand your targeting options if you feel you can’t seem to find a big enough target that is effective.
  • We’ll answer the question, “How many people should I target with my ad?
  • We will also discuss which ad metrics to pay close attention to so you know your ad is working.

To help you navigate your Facebook ad targeting, I’ve included additional details in this post so you can understand how each target works and where to locate.

I suggest you create your ads in the Power Editor.  Think of the Power Editor as a more robust “Facebook Ads Manager” dashboard. You can do more in the Power Editor and I highly recommend you test it out. (It’s a bit confusing at first, but I promise it gets easier once you understand where everything’s located!)

I can’t stress this enough:  The MOST important part of your Facebook ads campaign is targeting. Below I will walk you through some of the most important targeting features.

There are two different places where you will set up your ad targeting.  When you are totally new to ads, two of the easiest targeting features you can use are “Demographics” and “Interests.” To locate these two targeting features, go into the Power Editor, and under the “Ads” tab you will see  the “Audience” tab in blue.


Once inside the Power Editor, when you click on “Ads” you will see the “Audience” tab.


audience (2)

Under the “Audience” tab, if you scroll down a bit you will first see “Demographics” where you can set the age, gender and location for your ad targeting.  Scroll down some more and you will see: Interests, Behaviors and categories.  Let me briefly explain each to you.
3_Power_Editor_Interests (2)


The “Interest” field allows you to type in the name of the Facebook Pages you want to target. When you target a Facebook Page, you are asking Facebook to show your ad to the fans of that specific Facebook Page. Note that sometimes when you type in the name of the Facebook Page in the “Interest” field, it won’t show up. If you have this problem, be sure to first go to the actual Page and check the name of the Page and make sure you type in the exact name of that Page. However, sometimes that won’t even work.  Some Pages just won’t show up in the “Interest” field – it’s a Facebook glitch.  Frustrating, I know!

Hot tip: Brainstorm a list of people, publications, other groups in your industry, and even competitors whose fans you may want to target.

Hot tip #2: Use Graph Search, which is basically a search functionality inside of Facebook. It is a really long search bar across the top when you’re logged in to Facebook. You can conduct searches such as, “Pages liked by people who like __________” (insert the name of your page in the blank). This will give you a good idea of Pages you might want to target.

Here are some other searches you may want to try:

  • Favorite interest of people who like. . .
  • Groups of people who like. . .
  • Pages liked by people who like xyz Page and abc Page
  • You can get even more specific and search for things like, “Pages liked by women who live in Canada who like xyz page.”

Especially if you’re just starting out and don’t have a large email list or a large fan base, “Interests” is a great place to start.

There are two other targeting sections right below “Interests.” Let’s explore those briefly.


Behaviors is located right under interests. This is a more advanced targeting technique. The way this works is that Facebook partners with 3rd party data companies that track people’s purchasing behavior outside of Facebook.


Categories is the section located under Behaviors.

“Partner Categories” are similar to behaviors, where Facebook partners with other companies to get data.

There are also “Facebook Categories” you can explore. If someone likes a Page about cooking, you can target a broader category such as food and dining.

Neither Rick nor I use “Categories”  because it tends to be too general, so we don’t recommend them, but they are worth testing just to see if they might be a good fit for you.

Custom Audiences

Now switching gears here, let’s talk about a few other Facebook ad targeting strategies that are even more powerful than the targeting above.

Once of the ways both Rick and I set up our targeting is with “Custom Audiences” and “Lookalike Audiences.”  You can create a Custom Audience by taking a list of email addresses of those who have subscribed to your email list and uploading them to Facebook. Facebook will check it’s database against your email list and find matches. For example, out of 3,000 email addresses, there may be 1,500 matching email addresses on Facebook. Now you have a list of 1,500 quality lead you can target inside of Facebook. (Note: You need at least 100 matches for this to work.)

Lookalike Audiences

Now with Lookalike Audiences, this is where the magic happens! Once you have a Custom Audience, you can create a Lookalike Audience. Facebook can take your Custom Audience and create another targeted list that is very similar to the one you uploaded. Since Facebook knows so much about our likes, interests and behaviors, these Lookalike Audiences are pretty valuable to say the least!

Regardless of the size of your Custom Audience, your Lookalike Audience may be as large as a couple of million people. The ideal target audience size can vary. If you have a HIGHLY targeted list it can be as small as 1,000 people, but we suggest you keep your targeting groups to a maximum of 600,000 – 700,000 people. I usually try to aim for 500,000. (Note:  This does not apply for people targeting a very local audience. Your lists will be much smaller of course!).

Targeting Set Up

To set up your Custom and Lookalike Audiences, you will do this in the Power Editor a well.  When you log into the Power Editor, in the upper left you should see a drop down menu that says “Manage Ads.” Click there and then click “Audiences.”

5_set up in Power_Editor (2)

Once you are on the “Audience” page, you can click on “Custom Audience.”

6_find custome audience (2)

From there, the image below will pop up.  To upload your email list to Facebook, click the first option, “Data File Custom Audience.”

7_upload list (2)

In the “Data Type” you will see a few options for upload, choose “Emails.”

8_custom audeinces (2)

It may take a few hours for Facebook to check your email addresses against those in their system, so be patient and check back in a few hours. Come back to this exact same spot in the Power Editor and you will see the status of your new audience.

Retargeting with Facebook Ads

Another feature of Custom Audiences is the ability to create a target list from your website traffic.  This strategy is also known as retargeting.

Here’s how it works:

  • You generate a pixel code from Facebook and then place that pixel on your website.
  • Facebook begins collecting data from that pixel and creates a Custom Audience for you of your website traffic.
  • Now you can target that Custom Audience and show your ads to them OR you can create a Lookalike Audience so you can have an even larger, targeted group to use as well.

9_website (2)

Below I show you where to access the Facebook pixel that you will add to your website.  Click “View Custom Audience Pixel” to get the instructions you need to place this pixel in the correct spot on your website.

10_website2 (2)

Once you have your Custom Audience of website visitors in place, you can then create a Lookalike Audience to expand your targeting.

11_find lookalike (2)

In the “Source” field below you will type in the name of your website visitors Custom Audience and Facebook will create a Lookalike Audience for you. This is some pretty powerful targeting because it’s so much more focused that just targeting people who have liked a specific Page!

12_lookalike (2)

Now one more thing I will add to the mix.  As you might already know, you can target your existing fan base with your ads.  You would do that in the same section where you would target “Interests.”  But what you might now know is that you can also create a Lookalike Audience to target people SIMILAR to your existing fan base. In the “Source” field you will type in the name of your Facebook Page to generate your new target list.

13_Fan Page Lookalike (2)

Key Takeaways

  • Facebook targeting is one of the most important components to your Facebook ad success.
  • If you have not done so already, take a little time to experiment with Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.
  • I am 99.9% sure that your audience is spending time on Facebook. My challenge to you is to create
    smart targeting options to go find them!

Items mentioned in this episode include: 

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Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield


  1. Janna Melissa says:

    Amy, Thank you SO SO SO MUCH for your amazing podcast. I listen almost everyday in my car and have learned so much, especially from this one and #28.

    Quick question on targeting using a “Custom Audience from Your Website.”

    I am using LeadPages for my landing pages etc. How do I add the pixel code to my LeadPages? Is there a way to do it from within LeadPages system or do I have to manually edit each html file and upload the pages to my site that way? Thanks!!!

  2. means i want more 5000 likes on same page is it possible?
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  3. We now divert our attention more to Twitter and Instagram and sad to say
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  4. you can easily promote your page and boost your visibility:
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  5. I have other pages in which I dig for my own likes now and target to them but engagement is always close to nil.
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  6. you can easily promote your page and boost your visibility:

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  7. Amy do you ever have the Ad Mgr tell you that your target audience is “too narrow” when you are using a custom audience? From what I understand the minimum audience size is 100 but I have nearly 1,000 and FB is not permitting me to create the ad.

  8. hi, I love this site. Thank you for your nice site. very good……

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  9. Yeah I agree with Tim. Wish you could put them out more often
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  10. Gry Luke Muggerud says:

    I’ve tried following your advice, but unfortunately NONE of the pages I’m trying to reach through the “interests” field shows up! There are only a couple of pages I can use since I live in a small country where I’m one of two that do what I do, so I don’t know how to solve this.

  11. Heally Dias says:

    I LOVE learning from you Amy! I heard you for the first time on Chalene’s podcast and new immediately that you would be joining me every morning on my drive to work :D thank you for everything! I am very interested in learning more about Facebook ad targeting.

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  13. That’s a great point!
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  14. Amy…..if I am an “editor” for a business page….will I be able to use the power editor under the business page? Or can it only be used under my personal facebook acct.?

  15. Bill Hargenrader says:

    I had the the same issue, and then I used Powereditor and it worked fine.

  16. bboy pepsi says:

    great podcast i mean it’s so informative درب ضد سرقت اقامت ترکیه

  17. Angelique Duffield says:

    Since we’re now in April 2015, is it still true that the Power Editor is better and more robust? Adding the tracking pixel, interest targeting, etc is now available in the standard FB ad editor.

    What extra functionality do you get with the Power Editor now?

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