How to Grow Your Facebook Reach with Targeting Strategies

targeting strategies

More than 1.23 billion people use Facebook EVERY day, and the social media conglomerate is primed to reach 2 billion monthly active users by the middle of 2017. Between 2015 and 2016, Facebook advertisers grew by 50%, recently celebrating reaching four million global active advertisers on its platform. Facebook has undoubtedly established itself as a towering juggernaut for digital advertising and has proved to be one of the most valuable promotional tools for small to medium-sized business owners.

Facebook advertising has unlocked a variety of ad targeting tools that are particularly helpful for businesses operating or looking to expand in a specific location. Unlike Google AdWords, Facebook uses demographics, behaviors, and interests to impact targeting versus keywords that a user has searched to find a product/service. Essentially, Facebook has carved a niche targeting opportunity for advertisers to reach a small, but highly curated audience instead of a mass audience with generalized messaging.

When creating small-to-medium business Facebook targeting strategies, consider applying the following expert tips to dramatically improve your brand’s fan base and customer conversion.

Target to prospects and users that already have brand familiarity. It goes without saying that people are more inclined to engage in a purchase with brands that they trust; therefore, if Facebook users know you, then you’re in a good position to target them!

Email List. Get more out of your email list beyond your standard company newsletter. Integrate your email list with Facebook’s API and get your ads in front of users who have previously engaged with your brand.

  • In Ads Manager, select Tools > Audiences > Create Audience > Custom Audience > Customer List.
  • Once this list is uploaded, Facebook will find about half of the user profiles for your brand’s targeted marketing efforts. For example, if you upload 1,000 emails or phone numbers, Facebook will create a custom audience of 500 users, which can then be used for any of the ads you create – both for targeting and to exclude audiences.

Retargeting. Retargeting is a common practice that places your ad in front of users who have already been exposed to your website. In order to allow Facebook to track each site visit, you have to install simple Facebook pixel coding.

  • In Ads Manager, select Tools > Audiences > Create Audience > Custom Audience > Website Traffic.
  • Once you’re in this function, you will be able to select specific users you would like to target and can even customize this audience segment to include individuals who have visited your website, a certain landing page or those who haven’t visited your site in a while. Getting even more granular, you are required to define how recent a user must have visited your website in order to be served your ad (between 1-180 days). Once this segment is established, it can be used for any ads that you create.

Fans. Facebook also lets you target users who have ‘liked’ your business’s page, which is an extremely valuable tool since this audience pool already has demonstrated an affinity for your brand.

  • Under ‘connections’, selects Add a Connection Type > Facebook Pages > People who like your Page.
  • Marketers can either exclude or target friends of users who have liked your page. You will then be directed to select the page you want (which is your brand’s page), and then can further narrow the audience to include more detailed targeting (discussed below).

Expand audience reach by creating targeting strategies for lookalike audiences.

Facebook simplifies customizing lookalike audiences, allowing advertisers to increase audience segments to include users who share similar attributes to existing customers, leads, and fans. This can be done with:

Client lookalikes. This advancement targeting approach algorithmically deduces which Facebook users share similar thinking and behavioral characteristics with the clients that you provided as a custom list.

Lead lookalikes. Using the same strategy, Facebook will find users who are more likely to click through your ad.

Fan lookalikes. In this approach, Facebook will find users that are similar to the fans that like your business’s page.

  • In Ads Manager, select Tools > Audience > Create Audience > Lookalike Audience. Begin by selecting the custom audience you want to replicate in order to serve or exclude this segment from your ads.
  • Then, choose to find lookalikes of your existing clients, leads or fans. You will then be guided to select the percentage of the population of lookalikes in the designated country you’re trying to reach in order to serve ads. The percentage ranges from 1-10%, where a lower percentage represents a more accurate semblance of the audience they’re modeled after.

Overlay lookalike targeting with interest targeting.

In order to further target your newly expanded audience segment, I recommend adding specific interests to refine the quality of leads. Just because Facebook finds similar audiences, doesn’t mean that these newfound users will act or convert as a customer would. So, adding another targeting layer will procure a higher quality audience than the lookalike algorithm alone.

Once you’re ready to create an ad, select the ‘Lookalike Audience’ you’re trying to reach from the ‘Custom Audiences’ section. Next, under ‘Detailed Audience,’ type a relevant interest that pertains to your brand, and select one from the list. For example, a dog accessory retailer might add the following interest parameters: “golden retriever, dachshund, and pomeranian.”

Define your detailed targeting.

Detailed targeting allows advertisers to reach specific demographics and overlay both interests AND behaviors. For example, a boutique bakery and coffeehouse located in San Diego wants to advertise their booth at an upcoming farmer’s market hosted by a local women’s organization. The bakery can customize their Facebook targeting to only serve ads to women aged 18 to 34 who live in San Diego and have interests in baking and coffee.  

By adding supplemental layers of interests and behaviors, you’re reducing the chance that your ad will be served to unqualified prospects.

When creating an ad, choose from the available demographics and be as specific as possible (per the above example) by entering multiple interests if applicable. You also have the option to exclude certain users who are interested in a conflicting interest of your brand. For example, a vegan restaurant would probably exclude users that have interests in BBQ, fishing or related non-vegan foods/activities.

Leverage behavior and life-events targeting.

With the mass amounts of information available to Facebook via partnerships with data brokers, advertisers can target users based on purchasing behavior, device usage, life events and other activities.

For example, a fine jeweler can serve ads to anyone who was married within the last year and celebrating an upcoming anniversary. Under ‘Detailed Targeting,’ add in behaviors, such as “Newlywed (1 year)” and secondary targeting option, such as, “Anniversary within 30 days.”


Facebook’s targeting strategies are extremely powerful in identifying those audience segments that are most likely to convert. Get beyond your traditional Facebook ad targeting options by testing the advanced opportunities I’ve outlined above. Need help getting started? Contact us at to speak with a Facebook advertising expert to learn more about how you can optimize your next campaign!