This article is a reference guide to the targeting options available on Twitter today. Understanding the difference in the targeting options, as well as, how Twitter categorizes users in these buckets will help you sharpen your Twitter advertising knowledge and skills.


Interest targeting makes for a great place to start when initially putting your Twitter Ads into action. The categories are pre-populated and you just have to choose what is most relevant and then you’re off to the races. You can choose interest groups using your intuition, or if you’re like me and want some validation, you can go to your Twitter audience insights in the analytics tab. Here you can toggle between different sets of users to see the different groups insights. For example, if I have had an organic Twitter account previously then I could use the organic user insights to decide on interest targeting for my Twitter Ads.

Twitter interest categories are based on profile activity of the user.

Twitter Analytics Audience Insights – Interests:

Twitter interest categories


This targeting can be a little more involved when deciding how to combine the different areas of behaviors. This category includes things like income, occupation, and education level, but it goes much deeper than this. This is where user targeting gets a little eerie. We all know it exists but it’s still amazing the amount of information platforms can gather about users. A small glimpse of additional options are:

  • Places users dine
  • Places users shop
  • What bank they use
  • How affluent are they
  • Travel location preferences
  • Are they pet owners
  • How long have they lived at their residence

This type of targeting can take awhile to test, but again, a great place to start is Twitter audience insights. This will give some information on the basic categories such as income or occupation, but you are left to your own devices and testing with the more in-depth behaviors.

Example behavior category – parents:

Behavior categories


Utilizing keyword targeting requires a more preconceived approach. You need to know what general ideas to go after and then do the research to find the best keywords to target. You could start with your best performing AdWords keywords, but I would recommend doing keyword research specifically for social channels since people “talk” differently on Twitter. Essentially you are targeting words or phrases that users are tweeting about. There is a great post by the social hotshot JD Prater that details researching necessities for keywords, as well as, hashtags and influencers: How To Perform Twitter Research To Improve Ad Performance.

Unfortunately, the social analytics research tool mentioned in the blog above is no longer available. SEMRush has a great article on alternative options: Topsy is Dead: Alternative Social Analytics Tools You Need to Use NOW.


If you work in an industry and are active on social media you probably know what companies or people are influencers in your industry. That’s great, the majority of the work is done. Now you need to take those @accounts and plug them into one of the social analytics tools to find the most active accounts to utilize in your targeting. If you don’t know your influencers then again, you can use the social tools to find influencers based on keywords or hashtags. When you plug one of these @accounts in you are targeting the followers of that account. finding influencers based on keywords:

Most influential


TV targeting is the most lose targeting option on Twitter in my opinion. Users are put into a pool of highly likely to see a show using a predictive algorithm. There are three ways to use this targeting: by TV show, TV network, or TV genre. With TV network and TV genre targeting you can only target continuously, but if you choose to target by TV show you have the option to target continuously or within new airing windows only. You can go around the continuous targeting by scheduling your campaign to activate or pause at specific times.


You can use a wide variety of events to reach people that may be interested in your product or service. There are wider reaching general options such as Halloween or other holidays, but the best use case for event targeting is honing in on more specific happenings. For example, you can target the Amazon Re:Invent conference or the MLB playoffs. When you click on an event it will also give you audience insights on the users engaging with the event on Twitter. You can browse event options from all over the world and sort by date, event type, or location.

In closing

Setting up Twitter targeting isn’t incredibly complex, but this article serves as a single reference point for information on the available options. Go forth and prosper.