How Targeted is Targeting?

Facebook interest targeting is hugely popular and successful for many businesses using paid social, partly as the level of targeting is much more granular than most other platforms. Facebook remains one of the most popular social media sites, with a staggering 1.09 billion average daily active users, so the opportunity to reach your target audience is high.

However, have you ever wondered just how accurate the targeting really is? With Facebook (including Instagram) using some relatively vague metrics to determine your interests (such as whether you've engaged with a particular topic just by liking or clicking on a post), is this really accurate? And really, how many of your target interest group are going to be genuinely interested in what Facebook's algorithm has decided, and what does that mean for you?

We decided to dig in and take a look at what Facebook thinks we're into, inspired by this blog from Facebook ads veteran Jon Loomer.

Here's a snippet of my preferences and what Facebook thinks I'm interested in under each category. Some are fairly accurate and based on information I've certainly told Facebook on my profile, and some are more questionable.

[caption id="attachment_3270" align="alignnone" width="983"]Facebook Ad Preferences Facebook advert preferences settings[/caption]

My Facebook Advert Preferences

Following in Jon Loomer's footsteps, here are some of the more accurate assumptions about my interests:

AWeber Infusionsoft Mari Smith Social Media Examiner HubSpot Bone Cancer Research Trust Car2Go Marks & Spencer Content marketing Birchbox Sainsbury's Entrepreneur (magazine) AdWords Independent contractor Jo Malone London Business Chevrolet Alpro

And here are some which are completely left field;

Logging MS Mode SureFire Tailor Weaving Sunday Elfin Sports Cars Hoarding Smash (instant mashed potato) Cattle Human Leaf Month Maine's 1st congressional district Step by Step (New Kids on the Block song)

Clearly, this demonstrates that some of these interests are incorrect! Take a look at your own Facebook advert preferences here.

Facebook Ad Targeting - Identify Who's Targeting You

Another tip is to click the drop-down on the right-hand side of a Facebook ad in the newsfeed to check who the target is for the particular ad and why you're seeing it.

[caption id="attachment_3284" align="alignnone" width="598"]Facebook ad targeting Facebook ad targeting example[/caption]

Facebook interest targeting is just one element within Facebook targeting of course, other options include demographics, behaviour, affluence, relationship status, and more. Retargeting and custom audiences offer yet more ways to reach your potential customers. Facebook are currently working on deeper level interest records, and as far as these spot-checks show, there is a need for an update.

Apply Magic Sauce

For more evidence of what your Facebook likes say about you, and a bit of a laugh, try This app takes your Facebook likes data and attempts to create a psychometric profile of you, with varying degrees of success! Here's another one of mine;

[caption id="attachment_3286" align="alignnone" width="1024"] example[/caption]

So, what does this all mean for social media marketers?

Clearly, we've got some work to do! It's obviously worth bearing in mind the accuracy of some of this data when setting up target audiences, and it can be too easy to assume that Facebook knows everything. As with any social media campaign, testing different audiences and combinations is critical, and these findings on targeting makes it even more so.