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Posted on 08.16.2012

Facebook Hits the Mark with its Enhanced Targeting Option

The demand for advanced analytical insight is increasing and, as marketers, we continually strive to gain more data on audience and engagement from our social media campaigns to demonstrate the value of our online efforts.

Last month, we discussed how Twitter's enhanced features aim to improve the social site's targeting options and search functionality. One of these updates includes a "Promoted Tweet" option that allows advertisers to target its audience based on geographic location, device, and platform.

Not one to get left behind, Facebook is rolling out its own version of the feature with "Enhanced Post Targeting." In the coming weeks, page owners will be able to use Facebook's new feature to target the reach of outgoing posts based on audience age and gender. Before this change, marketers could only target outgoing posts by location and language. And while geographical targeting is useful for global marketing, it's of little help on a local level.  

While the advanced option is only open to a select number of pages at this time, Facebook emailed some page administrators with news that the enhanced targeting "will become available to all pages" in the next few weeks. Reports say that additional options are coming soon, such as the ability to target posts based on your audience's relationship and educational status, college, workplace, and interests.

So what does this mean for brands? If you're a major department store that I follow on Facebook and you've just launched a new back to school Fall fashion line for teen girls, the new targeting option will allow you to set your posts' broadcast to target that specific demographic. That means your post about back to school fashion won't show up in the newsfeed of my veteran grandfather or the 25 year old pre-law student next door. It will show up in my younger cousin's newsfeed, who proudly added the name of her high school and her birthday to her Facebook profile. You can also optimize the time and frequency of your posts to match the schedule of the audience you're targeting, a combination which could potentially lead to higher returns.

One thing to keep in mind: while targeted posts broadcast to a specific demographic's newsfeed, all original posts still make it onto your brand's Timeline. This means if you don't have enough original content mixed in between those targeted posts, your page could resemble one long advertisement stream, which could lessen the amount of time visitors spend on your page.

If you're one of the select businesses granted early access to Facebook's enhanced targeting option, we'd love to hear your thoughts. If you're a business owner who is still waiting for the new option to hit your Facebook page, do you expect to use the advanced targeting feature often? Let us know in the comments below.

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