Whether you’re a worldwide brand or a startup, one thing holds true: audiences are key. There are all kinds of audiences out there; big, small, broad, niche, you name it. But when it comes to building the right audiences for your Facebook or Instagram advertising, being strategic is everything. Most people are familiar with the basics: geotargeting, demographic targeting, and interest based targeting. While those more basic audiences have their own time and place, to make your advertising dollars go their farthest, you’ll need to level up your audiences. Cue Custom Audiences. 

So what’s a custom audience, anyway? Like the name suggests, it’s custom to you and your business. To build one, you’ll need at minimum a Facebook Business Page, and to really kick things up a notch, you’ll need a well-implemented pixel on your site, customer data and more. We know what you’re wondering: what’s all the hype about? Let’s start with custom audiences built around…

Facebook Sources

  • Videos: Build an audience around viewership of a particular video asset. Target those who not only watch your video content, but make it a particular amount of the way through. Think 25%, 50%, 75%, 95% and 100%. 
    • Why we like it:  Building audiences around video views ensures that you’re pursuing a highly engaged, captive audience. By making it into the deep depths of your video content, you can be sure you’re targeting those with interest and presumably, intent. 
    • What you need to get started: Video content uploaded directly to the platform.
  • Instagram Business Profile: When it comes to targeting for Instagram ads, let’s just say it doesn’t get much better than this. Create an audience strategically built around those who’ve on a broad level engaged with your account, or take it a step further and target those who’ve saved any post or ad, slid into your DMs or engaged with any post or ad.
    • Why we like it: These users, regardless of how far they’ve gone in engaging with your ad, are what we like to call a “warm” audience base – they’re already turned onto your brand or business. Consider this the social media engagement retargeting you always wanted but never knew you had.
    • What you need to get started: Make sure your Instagram account is set up as a Business account.
  • Lead Form: Plain and simple. If your KPI is leads and you’re using the Lead Generation objective for your campaigns, this is your guy. Build out an audience consisting of those who have opened or filled out one of your in-app lead forms.
    • Why we like it: Others have done the research legwork, and the results have shown that it takes several (if not many) times of being exposed to a brand, business or product to convert. If someone opened your form then decided not to fill out their information, drop by on their feed later on for a friendly hello again.
    • What you need to get started: Lead Generation campaigns (past campaigns or present) with in-app forms. 
  • Events: Pretty straightforward here. Create an audience around those who’ve engaged in some capacity with your Facebook event. If you’ve recently hosted an event chock-full of real life, engaged fans that started with a humble FB invite or event, you’re in luck. Create an audience of those who have replied “going or interested” so they don’t miss out on the next one (or the one after that). 
    • Why we like it: It’s hard to find “cold” online leads who may be interested in coming to your IRL event. When you build a custom audience based on previous Facebook RSVPs, you can leverage your OG event-goers to build a lookalike audience of fresh users who closely resemble that of your past attendees. 
    • What you need to get started: Previous Facebook events.
  • Instant Experience: Craft an audience comprised of those who have opened your Facebook or Instagram Instant Experience. If we’re being transparent, you don’t often come across many of these. However, if your brand does in fact have the capabilities and resources to build one out, you’ll have yourself a ripe, attentive audience for the picking.
    • Why we like it: Similar to the “Instagram Business Profile” custom audience, these users are demonstrating intent and interest through immersing themselves in your brand’s Instant Experience. Retarget these users later on with more information to move them down the funnel. 
    • What you need to get started: Instant Experience set up for your brand on Facebook or Instagram.
  • Facebook Page: Consider this the IBP + one. Beyond the standard parameters of Business Page visitors, engagers, messengers or savers, you can target those specifically clicking on a call-to-action button on your page.
    • Why we like it: Beyond stating the obvious (that you can retarget your Facebook community according to their level of page engagement), there’s a nifty parameter called “exclude” that will allow you to fine-tune your social retargeting. If you want to pursue those who are engaging but not those who may have already taken the first step of sending you a message, select the exclude parameter to make sure they’re not included in your audience.
    • What you need to get started: A Facebook Business page.

Believe it or not, life does happen off of Facebook and Instagram. And when it does, a pixel, interaction data or an API integration will be right there along the way to keep track of it all. Which leads us to…

Non-Facebook Sources (aka just “Sources”)

  • Website: In house, we like to call this where the magic happens. Once you’ve got a pixel implemented across your site, the sky’s the limit. Retarget website visitors within a given time frame, or get more granular and pursue those who may have added to cart, but didn’t complete a purchase. As long as you’ve set up your Standard Events, you can retarget user journeys on-site along their path to conversion.
    • Why we like it: What’s not to like? Set up strategic campaigns around particular pixel events of interest in order to help push your website visitors along (or, as we’re all accustomed to, follow you around social media until you return). Just starting out with your site? Once you’ve reached the 1,000 visitor threshold, create a lookalike audience of your website visitors (or of those who’ve taken specific actions of interest).
    • What you need to get started: A properly implemented Facebook pixel on your website.
  • Customer List: Take your real-life relationships online. Upload the raw data of your existing customers or users to Facebook and leave it to some crazy tech to do the rest. Facebook will match these users to their online profiles, allowing you to reach them once more on social.
    • Why we like it: Re-engage with already brand-loyal users to drive awareness of new products, events, campaigns or initiatives. One of our favorite uses of the customer list, however, is re-engaging your email subscribers. Send an important newsletter and not have a great open rate? Push a snapshot of your email content through a social campaign reminding your subscribers to head to the inbox to not miss a beat.
    • What you need to get started: A .csv or .txt file or your customers, subscribers, etc.
  • App Activity: For those lucky enough to have apps, there’s a custom audience option for you. Create an audience of those who have opened your app or taken certain actions while on it.
    • Why we like it: If they’re actively on or launching your app (let alone downloaded it in the first place), they’re interested. Sometimes, you want to reach those users off-app to connect and share valuable content, deals, new products and more. Use the app-activity source to do just that. 
    • What you need to get started: First and foremost, an app. App events must then be set up accordingly.
  • Offline Activity: Your ROI-calculating best friend. Offline conversions allow you to follow the thread from your Facebook campaigns to your brick and mortar sales or in-store actions. If you remember anything about this, think ad attribution, return on ad spend, and reaching those who’ve shopped in the flesh back online depending on what actions they may have taken offline.
    • Why we like it: The truth of the matter is that many doubt the efficacy of social media marketing when it comes to their bottom line and proving its ROI. Using your in-store interaction data or Facebook partner integration, connect the dots between your digital efforts and offline sales, bookings, subscriptions and more to see how your social campaigns are actually converting after all.
    • What you need to get started: Offline events set up, as well as the ability to either secure in-store interaction data, an offline conversions API, or a Facebook partner integration in place.

Facebook advertising has such a breadth of capabilities that we can talk your ear off about it, and custom audiences are just the start. Have you tried your hand at custom audiences before, and if so, how have they worked for you?

Facebook Custom Audiences: What They Are and Why You Need To Know About Them

Facebook Custom Audiences: What They Are and Why You Need To Know About Them

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