In social media, sometimes the tiniest of tweaks can make an incredible difference.
When it comes to Facebook Pages, taking just a few minutes to set up "preferred audiences" is one of those things that can truly raise the bar on results for local businesses. Here's why.
Facebook tries to deliver relevant content, tailoring the feed of each user to show them more of what they like and less of what they aren't interested in.
This means more time spent on Facebook, and when users spend more time on the platform, Facebook can show them more ads, and thus, make more money. As such, it's in Facebook's best interests to grow time spent on the site - and making sure users are getting what want is one way of doing just that.
Facebook are also highly focused on relevancy of content and ads, since these directly feed their bottom line. Their "preferred page audience" feature is in line with their interests and ours.
Telling Facebook who you think might be interested in your Page improves the odds of your content reaching them. It's like handing someone a map with a yellow marker highlighting the exact route to their destination. Facebook Preferred Audience tells Facebook EXACTLY who your audience is and where they are.
After all, how's Facebook supposed to know you want to reach women who appreciate striped socks who live within zip code 85251? You might be managing a Facebook Page for a retail shoe store in Scottsdale, but unless you heavily share content about socks, and create engagement around patterned sock topics instead of shoes, Facebook will be clueless about your niche target audience.
Preferred Audience is a quick way to help Facebook understand your target audience, including location, age, gender, and interests. It's free, using the same basic interface that Facebook advertisers use to select an audience for their ad. It doesn't exclude all others or hurt your overall reach, but it makes a difference.
How do you do set this up? Head over to the "settings" on your Facebook brand page, and you'll find the "Preferred page audience" option on the left navigation sidebar.
A quick example of how I use this feature
One of my clients is a bank with branches scattered all over Arizona. As a digital strategist, naturally the first thing I did before creating their Facebook Page was to sit down and define their target audience. They're a commercial bank, so business loans are their bread and butter. They want more businesses to apply for loans, and have little interest in home mortgages, auto loans and personal banking.
Their focus is business banking, so most of my efforts are tailored to businesses with enough revenue to afford loans of that size - specifically, small-to-medium sized business owners in Arizona.
I keep this clients' audience in mind when I build out their monthly editorial calendar of Facebook posts, their blog content, and all other digital assets. It fuels my focus. It also determines what type of audience I'm building for their Facebook Page. I don't want consumers in Arizona or business owners nationwide; I want business owners in Arizona with enough revenue to borrow that kind of cash, preferably within a ten-mile radius of each bank branch location.
With Preferred Audience, I can help Facebook show this brand page to those people. Just those people. IT'S AWESOME.
Here's a screen shot:
For this particular client, I've set up Preferred Audiences to reach people living in the nearby areas, ages common to entrepreneurs or business owners, and interests relevant to my goal of business owners. For one branch in a major metropolitan area, I set up location within just one zip code where the branch was located, but in more rural areas with less competition, I chose location by city plus a ten-mile radius, thinking they'd be more likely to drive further.
It's important to think through your choices and how they align with the brand's customer base, so they fit your true target audience as closely as possible. This helps you build out a Facebook Page audience that delivers ROI, rather than just a vanity metric.
How to set up Facebook Preferred Page Audiences on your own page
Once you're on Settings>Preferred page audience, you'll simply start at the top of the page to make your selections, and roll down through all of the choices. For a local business, the locations choices are critical - these options include country, state, city and zip code, plus the ability to set a radius. This is where you target customers who are near enough to actually buy or visit your location.
If your goal is local sales, it's important to set this geotargeting within a realistic location . Don't hope they'll buy online from all over the world - pick a location where the majority of your customers who buy come from.
If your Page is for a physical location - such as a retail store - you'd want to set this for your city (either within the city limits or a radius of a reasonable driving distance, such as five or ten miles). Choosing your state isn't realistic if you don't have customers that come from all over. You can also select more than one location, which is particularly useful for brands with multiple physical locations.
Be ruthless and realistic in your targeting so your Page generates results, otherwise doing this task is a waste of time.
If age ranges apply to your target audience, don't skip over this option. Narrow it down to the ages most relevant to your business or product. Gender may or may not be applicable - if your socks don't come in men's sizes, only women's, well.... you get the idea.
The "interests" section is where this truly becomes most effective - this is where you can identify topics that resonate with your audience and make them more likely to be interested in your Facebook Page.
You might logically think of this as a keyword tool similar to Google keywords, but it's a bit different. Here's how Facebook defines interests:
"Likes and Interests allows you to refine your ad's target audience based on what they've included in their profiles, as well as the Pages, groups and other things on Facebook they've connected with. This includes sections like interests, activities, favorite music, movies and TV shows. Your audience won't be shown the ad because they search for the term you've targeted or as a result of other actions they take on Facebook."
Make your selection of interests relevant, but add in as many as you can think of that fit your target audience. Don't be stingy. Facebook won't exclude people who don't fit the interests you select, so you aren't hurting your reach, but you do want to help Facebook target the right audience as much as possible. Add in as many as you can think of, as long as they're closely relevant. If you get too generic, you aren't giving Facebook enough guidance to narrow down reach effectively, and setting this up won't be useful. It's also okay to go in and change or update these preferences occasionally.
One last feature of Preferred Audiences that might be worthy of testing is the ability to exclude certain audiences. You can only exclude by age, gender, location and language, however, so you can't use it to exclude competitors or certain sub-interests.
That's my two-cents worth on this topic. This is very useful for page managers, so if that's you, go check it out.