#SMTLive Recap: Using Facebook and Instagram Audience Targeting

#SMTLive Recap: Using Facebook and Instagram Audience Targeting


Audience targeting can quickly become essential to your social media marketing strategy. But it’s tough to know where to get started with all the various options for audience targeting available, on Facebook and Instagram in particular. Even if you already have a solid approach that you’ve been using for a while, it’s good to compare and contrast with other marketers on these platforms, as well as stay up to date on how both Facebook and Instagram change when it comes to targeting. Our #SMTLive community offered up their personal experience with audience targeting on Facebook and Instagram this week.

Because we went with such an in-depth topic this time around, we enlisted the help of one of our Social Media Today influencers to co-host the chat with us. Dhariana Lozano has been in the social media and digital marketing world for over seven years. She is the co-founder of Supremacy Marketing, a boutique social media marketing firm based in New York City, which manages the social media presence of clients in hospitality, publishing, B2B, and personalities. Her experience ranges from creating social media strategies and consulting for both B2C and B2B brands to help them stand out and break through digital walls for ongoing success.

We’re excited for #SMTLive today! @DhariLo will be co-hosting and helping to lead the chat. ???? Hope to see you all in 2 hours on the feed talking about “Using Facebook & Instagram Audience Targeting” pic.twitter.com/89mswX9iCm

— Social Media Today (@socialmedia2day) June 25, 2019

Testing, testing

Let’s get recapping. Because there are so many options available for organic post targeting on Facebook, we wanted to see what the community knew about and used the most. 

A1: I have found posting to groups based on audience categories to be more successful than facebook’s organic “targeted” posts. We tested the feature and found that it was not working with our audience the segmentation did not seem to occur. #SMTLive #Latetotheparty

— Courtnie (@courtnieridgway) June 25, 2019

Groups are unique to Facebook and definitely serve as a great marketing opportunity. @courtnieridgeway found posting to groups based on audience categories even more effective than Facebook’s actual organic targeted posts. 

Location targeting worked best for me in a previous role but as mentioned you need to test to see what works best for you ????????

— Chussy (@chussy) June 25, 2019

Just like many things in social media, this user answered with “it depends.” @chussy felt like location targeting worked best for their previous brand, but acknowledges the importance of testing, which became a running thread throughout this chat. 

It’s absolutely worth a test, especially if you’re pushing very topic or location specific content

— Dhariana Lozano – NYC Social Media Consultant (@DhariLo) June 25, 2019

Dhariana summed up this question well above. 

Right on target

Is targeting even worth it when it comes to Facebook organic content? These two users seemed to find the targeting option pretty crucial to their strategies. 

Late to the game, but Kelsey from @SwayGroup is here! Hello, all!

Post reach and engagement have been a pay to play game for quite awhile. If it’s a niche market we’re trying to reach, targeting to similar or look-a-like audiences is crucial. #SMTLive

— Sway Group (@SwayGroup) June 25, 2019

Note the “if” in @SwayGroup’s tweet – it’s important to know that in social media, nothing is one size fits all. 

A2: Facebook shows your post to a very small segment of your audience before it decides to show it to a larger portion. Targeting helps that initial small percentage of people seeing your posts are people who have shown interest in the specific content your post is about #SMTLive https://t.co/qQDQxKy7n4

— Dhariana Lozano – NYC Social Media Consultant (@DhariLo) June 25, 2019

Dhariana brings up a good point: Targeting can help bring your post to the right people ASAP. 


Getting into specifics here… our #SMTLive community has tested a wealth of ad targeting options. Here’s what works for some of them.

For #B2B marketing – I’ve used a lot of job title & company targeting to generate qualified leads. However, I’ve had to opt for more creative workarounds as #Facebook has removed a lot of the good targeting options we used to leverage 🙁 #SMTLive

— meg (@meganvgavin) June 25, 2019

It’s important to think about the difference between B2B and B2C companies when crafting your targeting strategy. @meganvgavin points out another important aspect of targeting here too: If you don’t keep track of the changes on Facebook and Instagram, it will be hard to know if your current strategy still works for you. 

So good! A lot of times we get worried about what we can add we don’t think about what we can actually take away #SMTLive

— Dhariana Lozano – NYC Social Media Consultant (@DhariLo) June 25, 2019

@JenniferBakerCo brings up exclusion, which is very important to targeted ads. There was some controversy surrounding exclusion on Facebook back in March, which you can read about here. If you’re not familiar with how exclusion works, the controversy and resulting decision can contextualize it for you a bit. 

So true! Like if you’re a company that sells meat-based products, like hamburgers, exclude vegans and vegetarians! #SMTLive

— Jennifer Baker (@JenniferBakerCo) June 25, 2019

The vegan and vegetarian exclusion might be a bit less controversial. 

I’ll use pretty much anything to see if it works! I currently use Oracle data, custom audiences, lookalike audiences, geo targeting, and interests. The struggle has been getting a budget to test different audience options.

— chelsea sherlock (@nodip_sherlock) June 25, 2019

This user has been testing many types of ad targeting for the sake of budget, which can’t hurt either.

Target size

Broad and hypertargeted audiences both had different appeals to people on the Twitter chat. 

Annoying answer, but: as broad of a targeted audience as possible 🙂 You don’t want to make the reach of your message/ad too small otherwise it will start to recirculate to the same people multiple times, probably annoying them, and the algorithm doesn’t like that! #SMTLive

— Robin Selvy Re (@RobinSelvy) June 25, 2019

Which is why creating a hyper-targeted audience and then doing a look-a-like audience from them would be a great idea! #SMTLive

— Robin Selvy Re (@RobinSelvy) June 25, 2019

@RobinSelvy likes to balance between the two options.

I like to run tests against different audiences at any given time – some to broader audiences (ie: a business industry more broadly OR relevant interests) and others to smaller audiences – such as narrowing down top companies, high-level job titles or retargeting. #SMTLive

— meg (@meganvgavin) June 25, 2019

@meganvgavin found testing important here, too. 


Our #SMTLive community uses interest tagging in a multitude of different ways. Check out this article for more background on the feature. 

I’ve had to be creative when using interest targeting. It can work well for consumer brands, but in #B2B there can be some pitfalls when you go too broad or too narrow. I’ve found success using very niche and specific terms to a particular #B2B industry to work well. #SMTLive

— meg (@meganvgavin) June 25, 2019

Again, keeping B2B vs B2C in mind here feels important to @meganvgavin. 

A5: As specific as you can get. When you do this, make sure the collateral matches the audience! #SMTLive

— Jennifer Baker (@JenniferBakerCo) June 25, 2019

@JenniferBakerCo found specificity important in interest tagging. 

It depends on what type of ad you’re running, but specific interests that we know are true of the desired audience with the option for Facebook to broaden them as they optimize seems to work well. #smtlive

— chelsea sherlock (@nodip_sherlock) June 25, 2019

The classic “it depends” popped up in this user’s answer, but they seem to have found a somewhat specific method that’s working for them. 


Lookalike audiences came up a lot in this chat as well. @meganvgavin shared her strategy for building this type of audience below. 

I’ve built some great look-a-like audiences based on handpicking our highest value newsletter subscribers (great job titles engagement). Avoid building off of your whole list or going too broad, as it can dilute your audience!

— meg (@meganvgavin) June 25, 2019

Thanks so much for recapping this #SMTLive Twitter chat with us. And special thanks to Dhariana for helping out with this one. If you’re intrigued and want to chime into the next one, be sure to RSVP here

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