3 Effective Audiences For Facebook Ad Beginners

By Chadd Powell | @ChaddPowell | Account Analyst at Hanapin Marketing

Facebook is becoming increasingly important in the PPC advertising space as its audience and reach continue to increase and its targeting abilities get more robust. More and more advertisers of all sizes are jumping into Facebook to see if they can reach new audiences and find customers who will enjoy their products and services.


New advertisers to Facebook are often presented with lots of articles, blog posts, tutorials, and ideas on what they should be doing. So much so that it can be a bit overwhelming.


Below you’ll find 3 starter audiences to target that are relatively easy for newcomers to set up and provide a first step into the Facebook ecosystem. Once you master these audiences there are many more advanced ways to target people and build audiences.


Friends Of Fans


Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.35.24 AM
Target friends of page likes



The easiest audience in Facebook to start with is simply targeting the friends of people who have liked your page. It makes intuitive sense that people who are friends with one another (even in the loose way Facebook defines friends) share some sort of commonality between them.


You’ll be targeting the friends, co-workers, family, and other connections that your fans have. Odds are that at least some of these people are interested in the same things as the fans of your page. That same thing could be your product or service!


Be sure to exclude your existing fans so you’re not targeting people who might have already purchased or used your service in the recent past.


To target these people, you’ll need to have a Facebook page already set up (you’ll need this anyway to do paid Facebook advertising) and that page needs to have likes. The more likes you have the larger this potential audience. If your page is new or doesn’t get a lot of traffic, this method of audience building will be less effective.


In this case work on building your social media outreach to the point you have enough fans to use this type of audience. Once you’ve received enough likes, this audience will become another option for your Facebook advertising.


Persona Based


Do you pride yourself on knowing your clients and customers? Do you know what they look like demographically and what their interests are? If so, then a persona based audience is right up your alley. Using the information you already know about your clients and customers you can build out an audience using those exact parameters to target new people who fit those same parameters.


How might this work? Let’s look at an example.


Let’s say you sell outdoor apparel focused on the camping and hiking niches. You want to put some ad spend toward reaching new customers who might be interested in your store and its products and you’ve heard Facebook can be a great place to do this. Based on internal information from existing customers, you have a general idea of what your typical customer looks like:


  • Male or female
  • College educated
  • $40,000 – $75,000 annual income
  • 25-45 years old
  • Live in California, Washington, and Oregon


Now you have a decent start at knowing who your customer is and who else might be like them. In Facebook you can then target these parameters as we can see below.


Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 2.51.54 PM
Target by location, age, and gender
Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 2.52.20 PM
Advanced targeting

We’ve gone on to layer in some additional interests like fishing, hunting, and mountain biking that would likely appeal to someone who enjoys camping and hiking.


You definitely want to err on the side of caution when it comes to audience size. The more targeted it is the more likely you’ll be focused on the right people.


We’ve created a single persona based audience that encapsulates your entire customer for this example, but it may be far more useful to break your customer base into multiple personas each tied to a customer type that buys from you. You can then target each of these personas separately with customized messaging.




The last option we’re discussing for building awareness of your brand or product is the lookalike audience. This audience is built by Facebook to look similar to your existing customers and clients based on information you provide.


The reason it can be useful to those advertisers starting out on Facebook is that it allows you to leverage information you likely already have or can put together in a relatively short period of time.


For the newcomer to Facebook, lookalike audiences could be built off the following:


  • Email list
  • Phone number list
  • Website visitors


Simply upload an email list or phone number list into Facebook and tell it to create a lookalike audience based on it. You can also create one based on visitors to your site using the custom audience pixel that will feed information back into Facebook.


You’ll then be asked to tune the size of your lookalike audience to be more targeted and smaller or for more reach, but less targeted.


Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 11.32.44 AM
Audience size


Then you can experiment with layering other targeting options on top of the lookalike audience Facebook creates to refine your audience further.




These three starter audiences are a great way for newcomers on Facebook to start looking for new customers. These audiences largely leverage existing data you likely already have, are fairly easy to set up, and allow for a fair amount of optimizations once they’re up and running. They really are a great way to get your feet wet before stepping into the more advanced targeting techniques and data collection available on Facebook.