Adam Gowland Written by

How to pick the right audience for Facebook Ads

Posted on 8th July, 2017 in Marketing

Now that you’ve been crushing your social media plan, gaining new followers organically and getting engagement on your content, you might be wondering what’s next. Organic reach can only go so far. What about Facebook ads?

If you’re a business to business (B2B) company, it might not have been something you’ve considered before.

It’s easy to fall into the trap that Facebook ads aren’t for B2B but they are. More than ever there is greater crossover between people’s work and personal lives that advertising on Facebook makes sense. While there are many factors when it comes to creating and running a successful Facebook ad campaign, this article is going to focus just on targeting.

Facebook v Adwords

While Facebook ads and Adwords are both online advertising, Facebook ads are different than Adwords in how people are targeted and generally where they are in the purchasing funnel. With Adwords, you indicate what keywords you want to advertise for and people that are searching for that are shown your ads. With Facebook, there are no keywords involved. 

Unlike with Adwords, you are going to searchers rather than searchers with keywords coming to you. It’s more about the target audience and less about a singular searcher intention. With Adwords, you don’t need to know anything about the searcher other than their keywords but it’s not like that with Facebook. 

When advertising on Facebook, it’s important to remember what people are on Facebook for. It’s a bit of fun, to take a break from every day life, and to socialise and share their lives. But that doesn’t mean that just because they’re on Facebook their problems go away. They still need to find a pair of shoes to wear to next weekend’s wedding and they still need to source that contractor for the next project at work. Their business lives don’t stop just because they are on Facebook. 

The beauty of advertising on Facebook as well is sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for until you give it to them. It’s your chance to put something in front of someone, regardless of where they are at in the purchasing cycle. 

Why Facebook ads?

While the cost to entry for Adwords might be too high for some small businesses, anyone can make Facebook ads work, whether it is a stand alone campaign or an on-going effort. The cost surrounding Facebook ads generally have a lower cost per click as well, especially in industries where there is high competition on Adwords. Another reason to run Facebook ads is you reach a different audience than you would with Adwords. It’s easier to target people depending on which level of purchasing intent they have, whether that’s awareness, lead generation or conversion.

One of the other side benefits of running ads is that you are able to gather data about your target audience. Whereas with Adwords, you get keyword data from running campaigns, you get demographic data from running Facebook ad campaigns. 

Why bother with targeting?

As Facebook has over a billion active users, you’ve got a lot of people you could be reaching out to, but you’re not going to want to target all of them.

The better the targeting, the more relevant your traffic and conversions is going to be. This means limiting wasted spend, which makes your ad spend go further. A one size fits all solution does not apply unless you are a global brand. And even if you are a global brand, you would still be doing targeted ads because an ad that appeals to one group, likely won’t appeal to another. There is a case to be argued for having a broad reach with your ads, but really it’s about finding that sweet spot between too specific and too broad.

Research first

So you’ve thought about targeting, but does that mean you’re ready to start your ad campaign? Well that depends. Have you done any research first? While advertising successfully on Facebook is partially trial and error, you’ll be setting yourself up for success if you do some research about your target audience first. It is tempting to make assumptions, but they might not always be right. You don’t have to have a perfect idea of who your target audience for your Facebook ads is, but the more you know about them, the more relevant the people are going to be who see your ads.

As Facebook has over a billion active users, you’ve got a lot of people you could be reaching out to!


What to target?

As each industry and business is different, what works for one business in terms of targeting, won’t work for another which means you will have to do a bit of testing through your ads to see what works. With B2B targeting, it’s a different approach than what you would use if you were a business to consumer (B2C) business. I would argue that there is more choice when it comes to how B2C businesses can target their audience as people share more about their consumer habits, interests and life events on Facebook but that doesn’t make it impossible for B2B businesses.  

A good place to start for most B2B businesses is with the following criteria:
  • Industry they work in
  • Employer 
  • Job title
  • Pages that they like 
The pages that people like are going to be different industry to industry, but having that knowledge of which ones are the “watering holes” in your industry, will help with your targeting. This might be at the page of a professional body or a product that is widely known in the industry. 

It is possible to target people using the “and/or” feature in Facebook as well to make the audience more specific, particularly when using the “and” option. It’s also important to think as much about excluding people as it is who you include. This could be people who already like your page and have an awareness of your brand, or might like a page but aren’t the level of seniority that you are looking to target. 

It is better to start off with a bit of a broader group and then narrow it in once you have more data. If you have a small budget, you might start more conservative but it will return less data on your audience.

Optimise for results

As with your normal social media posts, don’t just set and forget about your ads. Running Facebook ads is a continuous process of refining your targeting until you get it right. Continuous improvement gets continuous results. Run the first set of ads, get the data from these ads, and make changes. Repeat as necessary. Be careful not to over optimise as this will result in too small of an audience in most cases.

You don’t have to specifically target everything. If there isn’t an obvious reason for targeting, such as gender or age, then gather some data on it first before making a decision. Otherwise you risk excluding a group that may otherwise convert well for you. 


If you haven’t considered Facebook ads before, hopefully you’ll consider them now that you know how targeting works. As with most things in marketing, there is no one right solution for everyone and perfecting your Facebook ads will take time. Don’t be afraid to quit what doesn’t work and to continue to do more of what does work for you. And most of all, be patient and give yourself time to get it right.

If you're looking to take the plunge into Facebook ads but don't know where to begin, get in touch! The Cargo team is waiting to work with you.

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