Facebook Page Post Targeting: Is It Useful?

Some Facebook Page admins can now target their posts based on the following criteria:

  • Gender
  • Relationship Status
  • Education
  • Interested In
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language

So… now what?

What are the details?

When will someone use this functionality?

What value does it add for the user?

How value does it add for the Page admin?

In the end, I have my doubts about the value of this feature in its current form. But let’s dive in…

Page Post Targeting: The Details

So this is what I now see when I start entering a post into the Publisher of my Facebook Page:

Facebook Page Post Targeting

If you don’t have it yet, you will soon. Facebook rolls things out gradually.

Now when you’re entering a new update, simply click on the Targeting icon to select any of the targeting options listed at the top of this blog post. From there, you have the following options…

  • Gender: Male/Female (well, yeah)
  • Relationship Status: Single, In a Relationship, Engaged, Married
  • Education: In High School, In College, College Grad
  • Interested In: Men, Women
  • Age: Create a range
  • Location: Enter Countries, Region/State or Cities
  • Language: Enter the languages you are targeting

Something important to understand here: When you target men from Canada, only men from Canada will see your post in their News Feeds; however, anyone could see that same post if they visit your Page.

That presents a lot of questions for me. I’ll address those shortly.

How Will This Be Used?

On the surface, this sounds like a great feature. Here are a few ways that it might be applied…

Contests: Let’s say that only people in the US are eligible for your great contest. There’s no reason to blast everyone with it and disappoint those outside of the US.

Anti-SPAM: If you have found that the vast majority of SPAM comes from particular countries, you can get around these people by targeting outside of those areas.

Split Testing: You can promote the same piece of content, but in different ways to various audiences.

What Value Does it Add for the User?

In theory, this could make content more relevant for users. If Page admins can cater their content to specific demographics, you may be more likely to engage with it. Likewise, users may appreciate not being bothered with content that doesn’t apply to them.

What Value Does it Add for Admins?

In the use cases above, this feature may help prevent confusion around contests; it can help weed out spam; and it can help you cater your messaging to specific demographics. That all adds up to value.

Another consideration is EdgeRank. If your content is now more relevant to your target audience, the percentage of engagement should go up. That, theoretically, would lead to a higher EdgeRank, resulting in reaching the people you want to reach more often.

My Open Questions

I have a whole lot of questions about this. Let’s start from the top…

1) It’s only partial targeting. Sure, you target people in their News Feeds. But anyone can see that content if they come to your Page. So if you cater your content based on demographics, you’ll probably need to spread out when you post it. Otherwise, you’ll have the same piece of content published over and over on your Timeline. The alternative is that you could hide items from your Timeline, but now this is becoming more and more work.

2) Are you cutting out the wrong people? Profile demographics aren’t perfect. If you think your post applies most to men aged 18-35 from the US, what about the people who lie about this information? Or don’t provide it? Or how about those who fall just outside of that demographic who would have loved to interact with your content?

Another example is around SPAM. Maybe you’ve isolated India as a country that provides most of your SPAM. But what about the legitimate accounts from that country? You don’t want to cut them out.

3) Does the value outweigh the effort? This is a lot of work. Every time you write a post, you need to make a half dozen clicks or so. And if you are split testing, you are duplicating your efforts and possibly hiding posts from your Timeline. Is all of this going to result in some significant benefit?

At this moment, I’m slow to embrace this feature. Maybe it will be awesome. Maybe Facebook will improve upon it. I actually wrote a post a while back about the need for Lists for Pages. This is actually a step in that direction, but definitely no where close to the ease of use I was wanting.

What do you think? Is this a feature you will be using? How will you apply it?

  • Allison

    I’d be nice if these were available for app pages too!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hey, Allison! Are you sure it isn’t? One thing I discovered today is that it’s only available (currently) to pages with more than 5,000 likes. So does your app page qualify?

  • http://twitter.com/MikeStraus Mike Straus

    Great to hear your reaction as I still wait for this feature to be available to me (and hopefully in the APIs as well). A few comments/questions:

    1) Facebook previously allowed targeting by language and Location – country , state, and city. This targeting is what the rest of us currently have until this rolls out. This location targeting impacts the page as well as the newsfeed – which is a big distinction. If I target a post to San Francisco and you visit my page, you will not see it unless your location is San Francisco (or you are an admin). Any idea if the location part of this targeting still works this way? You would need help of a second user with a different city to test this one. If not they broke a pretty useful feature for businesses with multiple locations.

    2) in response to your first question, Its only Partial targeting – that is an important factor that controls how you use it – you can’t use it to tailor the same content to different demographics and blast it out, which is I am sure how many envisioned using it. This would “spam” up your page, but I also wonder how the divided engagement would impact Edgerank. If you want to target specific demographics it must be different content and likely spread out more, possibly allowing you to post more often to different demographics without spamming everyones news feed.

    3) You are likely to cut out some of the wrong people, and it is a lot of effort, so I would argue to use this feature strategically and not regularly.

    Even with these considerations, I see using this on one page I work with that we are trying to engage a younger demographic with appropriate content without over posting to our currently engaged demographic, which is much older. I am sure this will take some trial and error, but I can see using it a couple times a week for a goal like this.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hey, Mike! First, I heard today that they’re rolling it out first to pages with 5,000 or more likes. So maybe that helps you plan.

      1) Know what you mean, but the new targeting is different. I had used the old targeting for location, and that only appeared to those people on my page. But I have heard this verified multiple times — and from Facebook — that this is no longer the case. Language and location are rolled up into this new targeting, so I expect that you’ll no longer be able to target in that way.

      2) It’s a loaded question, really. First, technically you wouldn’t necessarily spam up your page if you featured only one of your split-tested posts and hid the others from your Timeline. Second, I’ve heard a lot of theories that this could help EdgeRank. The problem is that no one even knows for sure exactly how much EdgeRank helps now. To me, it just sounds like a lot of work for something that may or may not help you, all while cutting out a portion of your audience no matter how you slice it.

      3) Let me know how your test goes! I’m currently not motivated to do much with it. I’m a skeptic!

      Thanks for your thoughts, Mike. I always love your feedback!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Emily.maher3 Emily Maher

    Thanks for this Jon, you’re a wealth of knowledge. Any idea when this is being rolled out to everyone?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I heard today that it’s first being rolled out to pages with over 5,000 likes. I just made the cutoff! Beyond that, not sure.

  • EventGuy

    Just echoing what Mike said. Currently targeted posts don’t appear on your Page. Are you sure the new targeted posts do?

    I’d also also note, though, I’d welcome having the option of the Posts appearing on the Page. We currently offer events and when we have an event in LA, we only target LA. The problem is if you’re in Idaho and we’ve done a bunch of recent events in NYC, LA, SF, etc, our page looks barren to you and we look inactive. I’d like everyone to see on our Page that we’re doing an event in LA without it going into the Idaho person’s newsfeed.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Yes, these are completely different. The ability to fully target by location and language (and remain targeted on your page) is going away.

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  • http://twitter.com/JordanK_Scott Jordan K. Scott

    I noticed this was posted back in August… Lol, its now April. Was this rolled out only in the US? #teamcanada