Facebook’s Audience Insights is truly one of the most powerful research tools available to marketers – even if you aren’t using Facebook to advertise. There are many data points available so it’s important to know what to look for when trying to build the ideal audience to sell products to.

Where does the data come from? 

There are two basic sources for the data that Facebook uses to determine interests, behavior and demographics. The most obvious source for this information is what is self-reported by Facebook users themselves. Things such as the pages they like, family and relationship connections, apps that use Facebook for login and more will all contribute to how users will fall into various targeting criteria. The second source of this data is provided to Facebook by various trusted third party research firms like Acxiom, Epsilon, Datalogix and others. Data from these third party sources will allow us to target users based on things like purchase behaviors and intent however these targeting options are only available in the United States.

Navigating The Tool 

The logic used in the Audience Insights is very similar to creating an ad on Facebook. The left column is where we select our audience parameters. If it’s an available target option on Facebook, you will be able select it as criteria for the audience you are analyzing. You may also select people who like your page specifically or custom audiences that you have saved. As we input parameters in the left column, the data will update on the right. There is a seemingly endless amount of data shown to us, some of it may not be useful for e-commerce at all.

At the top of the page there are 6 tabs with sorting options that will show information based on the parameters selected in the left column; demographics, page likes, location, activity, household, and purchase data.

Know Your Demo 

Narrowing down your audience to the demographics that convert best is the easiest way to improve performance and get a low Cost Per Acquisition. Facebook’s engine will make slight demographic adjustments to delivery of ad campaigns based on what’s working best for your objective. If you already know the best age, gender and locations to target, you can give the engine a head start and prevent wasting money by reaching the wrong people.

Audience Insights - Demographics

When analyzing demographics for an e-commerce campaign it’s important to keep in mind that just because the majority of people within your audience are a certain age or gender, it does not mean that is the segment of the audience that will convert best. For instance, Males over the age of 30 may only make up 10% of your selected audience but could account for 75% of purchases. With this tool you can always narrow down the audience in the left column to have a view of only specific ages, genders or locations.

Below age and gender there are a few more data points displayed. Lifestyle categories are provided exclusively by Personicx and help to define the various lifestyles of people within your audience.

Lastly, the demographics tab will show you the selected audience’s relationship status, education level, and job titles. All of this information is based on self-reported data on Facebook so it will only pick up on this info if user has added it to their profile.

Know What Pages They Like

The next tab available is Page Likes. This tab is the best way to find additional interests to target for your ads. You should also reference this information to determine the quality of your audience. If the pages that appear on this tab don’t seem relevant to your niche, it is possible that your audience is too broad or the parameters you set for the audience don’t define your niche well enough.

The top section of the Page Likes tab will show you various pages liked by people in your audience broken down by category. You may click on these links and it will take you to the page in a new browser tab so you can get a feel for what the page is about.

Audience Insights - Page Likes

Below the category breakdown is a list of up to 100 of the top pages liked by your audience ranked in order of relevancy. The columns on this table are also very helpful if you know what they mean:

  • Audience Column – Displays exactly how many people in your selected audience like the similar page.
  • Facebook Column – Displays how many people total on Facebook like the similar page.
  • Affinity Score – Displays a rating of how likely somebody within your selected audience is to also like that page.

This section can help you find new targetable interests and can give you insight on the potential crossover of your audiences. If a large portion of your selected audience also likes another page you are targeting, it is likely that you will have similar results targeting the similar page. Moreover, if you target two pages with different ad sets that are very similar you could be marketing to the same people twice.

Unfortunately, not every page that appears in this section will be a targetable interest for ads so you will need to see if it comes up in the search when building your audience. To avoid this nuance there is a great and free browser extension for Chrome that will highlight which pages are targetable. You can install the extension with this link and make a donation to the developer Med Djelaili (big thanks to Yousef and the Tasskickers community for sharing!).

Know Where Your Audience Lives

If you base your audience selection on a large geography, the ‘Locations’ tab at the top will display a breakdown of which cities and countries they are in. It will also display which languages are commonly spoken by your audience. Similar to the Affinity Score on the Page Likes tab, the locations and languages shown on the Locations tab will tell you what percent of your audience lives in that location or speaks a certain language. The ‘Compare’ column will tell you how likely your selected audience is to speak a certain language or live in a certain place as compared to all Facebook users.

Audience Insights - Location

Know How They Use Facebook

Next is the Acitvity tab. This will give you a general overview of how your selected audience uses Facebook. In the first section you will see how many pages each user in the audience likes on average. Lastly, you can also see the preferred devices used for browsing Facebook. If you see an unusually high number of people using one device, or a preference for mobile, you can adjust the delivery when creating your ads. It may be helpful to compare the information about your selected audience to all users on Facebook by removing any interest parameters you have set. This will help you understand if your audience has an unusually high portion of users on a specific type of device.

Audience Insights - Activity

Know Their Household Data 

Household information is likely not useful for e-commerce applications but it’s good to know what’s available. The Household tab is only available for audiences in the United States. Information available here includes income levels, rent or own, household size, home value, and preferred spending method. Below each data set you will see a percentage of the audience that had data available for these statistics.

Audience Insights - Household

Know What They Buy

Lastly is the Purchases tab. This information can be very useful for seeing retail spending habits as well as the types of things people in your audience spend money on and their likelihood to make an online purchase.

Most of this information won’t be relevant to e-commerce so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see any higher of a likelihood for your users to spend money on clothing or make an online purchase. A good design that is well targeted can still sell regardless of what this data might say.

Audience Insights - Purchase

Alternative Way to Finding Similar Pages Liked By Your Audience

There is a lesser known secret to finding other pages liked by your audience by using the Facebook graph search. Simply create a search query for ‘Pages liked by people who like [page name]’ and it will give you some top results. This method won’t give you as much of a breakdown but it can be a little bit quicker if you already know your niche.

Do you have any audience research tips of your own? Share them in the comments section!

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