Article by Jerry Low
Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.
Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook Newsfeed and come across an ad that was so well-suited that it felt creepy? It was like the advertiser could read your mind or had been stalking you.
Maybe you have been planning a vacation, and suddenly, you are face-to-face with a Lonely Planet survival guide. Or maybe you’re in a long-distance relationship, and all of the sudden, you see an ad of florist doing worldwide delivery.
That’s strange, right?
It actually isn’t as weird as you think. Facebook knows a lot about you (and which websites you visited), and it uses that information to let Facebook advertisers target their ads to select groups of people.
For instance, that florist could target their ads specifically to people who are in long distance relationships.
As an advertiser, you can identity and reach a target audience, as long as you know which targeting options to use. I’ll be covering 20 non-interest-based targeting in this article and (hopefully) giving you some fresh ideas for your next campaign.
Facebook doesn’t like users to be aware of the fact that the social media platform knows a lot about their users. In Facebook’s e-learning Blueprint, it was stated clearly that (under Key Policies for Content):
Ads can’t assert or imply — directly or indirectly — that you know a person’s personal characteristics. This includes a person’s name, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or medical condition, financial status, and more. You also can’t call attention to perceived imperfections.
Violation of this policy may cause suspension of your Facebook ad account. So please be extra cautious when you using specific targeting ideas revealed in this article.
Based on Facebook’s estimation, there are more than 323 million people live with non-family members in the United States at the time of this writing. That makes this a great demographic to target for some businesses.
For instance, let’s say that you’re a property agent. You can target people who live with housemates, and create ads that speak to those who are unhappy with their current living situation.
Or, let’s say you are in the the headphones business: You could sell the benefit of your products (listen to music privately) to this group of people.
Think of the pain points that housemates experience and then create customized ads to alleviate that pain.
There are about 6 million new parents as of this writing, and they have a lot of needs. Babysitting services, baby clothing retailers, breast feeding mom clubs, baby accessory retailers, and after-birth yoga coaches are some of the people and companies that can meet the demands of new parents. Checking the box to market to new parents is one thing. Hitting your campaign out of the ballpark is another thing entirely.
Jamie Dunham of Jamie Dunham Brand Wise states that around 73 percent of moms claim that advertisers don’t understand them or their needs.
It’s important to understand that parents want to find a way to make things better for their kids. They don’t just want to make things better right now, but make them better for in the future. This is why socially responsible marketing messages tend to do well. In addition, they want to find a way to do it all. They need their lives to be easier but often feel as if they are failing in all areas of life.
Create ads with those things in mind. Consider how you can make the baby’s life better, the parents’ lives better, and the world better. Also, think about how you can save parents’ time and help them meet all of their goals. You might not be able to accomplish everything with a single ad, but if you can hit the mark on one of those points, you will do well.
As kids age, you get an entirely new demographic to hit. Now, you can market to parents with preschoolers or early school age children. Let’s say that you own a nanny service, or run kids’ activities – you can reach those parents to let them know that you are available.
There are countless options for this. Again, you should find a need or a pain and solve the problem with your ad.
The following are some real life examples I found online.
Facebook lets you target people by birth month, which is an extremely effective strategy. You can easily do a birthday promotion and then reach out to people based on their birth month.
Now recycle that idea into birth month targeting. You could do something creative, such as T-shirts or other products with the right astrology sign on them. That’s just one example of a way you can use birth month targeting.
When your close friend is about to have a birthday, what do you do? You buy that person a present. Of course, life often gets in the way, so you might end up running by the dollar store on the way to a party. Make life easier for others by targeting them when their friends’ birthdays are about to roll around. Your ad could be something like:
Surprise your birthday friends with X delivered to your front door before the party
Let readers know you have the answer to their gift problem, and they don’t even have to leave home to get it. These don’t have to be physical products. You can advertise spa treatments, digital downloads, subscription services, and more.
If you think birthdays are stressful, consider anniversaries.
This is when things really get stressful. Men and women need to find the perfect anniversary gift, and you can help them along the way with anniversary targeting. You can use this to sell your products, or combine it with other targeting options to speak to a specific need.
Let’s say you target people with kids who have an upcoming anniversary. You could write an ad that advertises your nanny services for the night. That is the great thing about Facebook targeting. You can use any combination that you want to reach people in fun and creative ways.
Newlyweds are an excellent demographic for marketers to reach. At this time, couples are looking for companies they can trust for the rest of their lives together. If you can get in on the action, you can make a lifetime of profits.
During this time, people’s attitudes shift from “me” to “we,” which is why that should be present in your marketing campaigns. You aren’t speaking to an individual. You are speaking to a couple.
You also need to think about how newlyweds use Facebook. Right after walking down the aisle, newlyweds are apt to like pages that are related to weddings, relationships, and love. That changes after a few months, when they start liking pages about cooking, home improvements, and other domestic topics. How does that impact you as a marketer?
Newlyweds are interested in maintaining the love in their marriage, saving money, settling into a home, and living in domestic bliss. Tie one of those themes into your ad in order to make a killing.
Newly engaged couples are also a hot demographic. Jewelers, florists, and wedding planners make a killing targeting these couples. Other service providers, such as DJs and venue owners, use this option as well.
You also need to think outside the box a bit. If you run a finance company, advertise to engaged couples regarding the need for financial planning before the wedding. You can also advertise will services, life insurance, and other products. Then, of course, travel companies can reach out to engaged couples in the hopes of selling them a honeymoon package. Let them know about special packages that you offer for honeymoons.
It’s important to understand that many of these couples are cash strapped, so if you have a special deal that you can offer them, it will likely go over well. They are also looking for lots of ideas, so consider using ads to send them over to blog posts that are full of information. You can use your ads to collect leads, so that you can continue to market to the prospects through the entire engagement.
More than 17.7 million people are in long distance relationships in the United States alone. This creates the perfect climate for companies to sell products.
For instance, let’s say you are a florist. You could write an ad that says:
Missing someone? Show your love with flowers
That will spark an idea in the person’s head. Suddenly, he will want to send flowers to his love. He will click on the ad and make it happen.
Now let’s say you own a communications app. Because communication is often difficult in long distance relationships, write an ad talking about how you can bring the two together with technology. You can also write ads about events in the area, since people in long distance relationships often get lonely. Think outside the box and find ways to tie your products or services in with this target market.
In the past, you didn’t know if people were away from their hometowns, but now, Facebook lets you target them when you create ads. This opens up a wealth of possibilities.
You need to understand that people who are away from their hometowns are also likely away from their families. That means they need to find a way to show their families they love them. You could write an ad like:
Remind Mom you miss her – Send her a bouquet of fresh flowers
Then, of course, airlines can target these people with great deals they can use to fly home.
This is also a time for thinking outside of the box. If someone lives away from home, he or she might be lonely. A nice spa treatment or a digital subscription to a movie service might help.
When people are traveling, they have unique needs. For instance, many require transportation. If you own a limousine or car rental service, you can market to those people.
They also need entertainment. That gives tour operators a great opportunity to sell their services. You can also use this targeting method to sell digital services that provide entertainment.
For example, look at the following ad from Oyster.
You could create an ad like that, only market it to people who are traveling. That way, they will have something to do while they’re on the road.
Facebook even lets you target your ads to people who just returned from a trip. You might wonder what you can possibly do with this targeting option, but the sky really is the limit.
You need to understand that people are a bit overwhelmed when they return from a trip. Although life is back to normal, they are stuck with all of their old obligations. Use your ads to help them out.
Let’s say you own a lawn service. You could write an ad about how the grass got out of hand when they were gone, and you can help. Maybe you own a meal prep service. Talk about how people don’t like to cook when they come home from a trip, so they should order your meals. People also want to postpone reality for as long as they can. With that in mind, companies do well advertising spa services and other relaxing options.
Traveling for business can be taxing. People have to go from one point to the next, and they get sick of it. You can make their lives easier by offering them the right products and services.
Think about all of the things that business travelers need. They need to stay in a hotel, so you can use this targeting option to market hotels. They also need a way to get to their destination, so don’t be afraid to target this group if you do marketing for an airline. In addition, they need briefcases, the right technology, and other supplies.
Make sure that you create your ad in a way that speaks directly to business travelers. Saying something as simple as “Planning for your next business trip?” will let them know you are speaking specifically to them.
Currently, 35,983,019 small business owners use Facebook, and these owners have some very specific needs. You can advertise productivity tools, online marketing services, social media guides, web design services, accounting services, and more. Basically, if you have something that small business owners need, you should use this targeting option. Of course, you need to stand out to small business owners, which isn’t always easy to do. Small business owners have three major pain points, and if you can address those points, you can reach them.
First, they feel as if everything is too expensive. They want a great website, but it costs too much. They want better insurance for their employees, but it is too expensive. If you can offer deals, you can speak their language.
Second, they are afraid of failure. It’s no secret that the majority of small businesses fail. If your products or services offer a solution to protect against failure, you will reach them.
Third, they struggle to balance home and work life. They spend so much time at work that they often feel as if they are losing their social lives. You can speak to that pain point by offering a time-saving solution, just like OutboundEngine managed with its ad campaign.
There are currently more than 213 million expats living and working in the United States. These people have specific needs and pain points. For instance, they might not be entirely fluent in the language. This creates a great opportunity for ESL tutors.
If they have children, they will also need access to an international school. Those who market for one should use this targeting method. In addition, they likely need activities for their children. You could create an ad like:
Moved to the US with kids? Fill your social calendar with bilingual events
You can even market home supplies and other services to expats. They will need all of the basics when they move to a new country. You can make a lot of money by providing them with what they need.
When people move to another country, they leave behind their close friends and family. Now, you can target those people with Facebook ads. Use this targeting option to advertise gifts, flowers, and communication services and apps. This is very similar to targeting people who are in a long-distance relationship or those who no longer live in their hometowns. If you have a way to bridge the distance, you can succeed with this targeting option.
Facebook’s targeting options have become so specific that you can even target people based on their connection type. This is an excellent opportunity for technology providers. For instance, you can target someone who has a 2G connection and let them know it is time for an upgrade. You could also target someone who has a Wi-Fi connection and offer them a new router or modem.
Think of how you can make their lives better and then create your ad around that concept. Most people want something better than what they have, and if you can offer it to them, there’s a good chance they will take you up on it.
Today, there are 46 million baby boomers living in the United States. This is a large market that shouldn’t be ignored. Because it is so large, almost anyone can advertise to baby boomers. No matter the product or service, there is likely a Baby Boomer ready to buy what you have to offer.
There are a few things to keep in mind when advertising to baby boomers. First, they have money. They hold 70% of the disposable income in the United States, so you can make some sales, even if you have high-end products.
Second, they don’t want to be reminded that they are getting up there in years. They still want to have fun, so don’t be afraid to market some toys like motorcycles. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t market products that they need as they age. You just have to be smart about it. For instance, if you sell adult diapers, market the diapers to them, but let them know that your product will help them maintain their active lifestyles.
Third, they are loyal to their favorite brands. If you have something new to offer them, you need to give them a good reason to switch over to you. Let them know you run a company they can trust, and that you offer a superior value.
Fourth, they are a real estate agent’s dream. They are busy making lifestyle plans, such as buying new condos or beach homes. Even if you aren’t a realtor, you can tap into their lifestyle needs.
People who were born between 1961-1981 are part of Generation X. With more than 475 million Gen Xers in the United States, they provide a great chance for advertisers to move some products. Because of their age, Gen Xers have some unique concerns. Many are taking care of aging parents, which provides a way in for advertisers. From retirement homes to adult diaper companies, you might have a product that will make their lives easier. Use that to reach out to them.
Generation Xers also tend to have a lot of disposable income, making them a great target for travel and real estate agents. You can target them if you offer services as well, such as lawn care. They can use that extra income to knock out some of their least favorite chores.
Finally, people in this generation often have kids. They are concerned about sending them to college, so if you have college prep courses or other tools, consider marketing to this generation.
It is important to note that Generation Xers are prone to researching products before making a buying decision, so provide lots of great information in your ads. You can also send them to your website, where they can find additional information.
Some people love to play games online. You can target frequent canvas gamers to reach this demographic. This is a great option for game developers. You could write something like:
Love Candy Crush? Check Game X out
It’s important to note that some gamers play for the social element, so you can market social apps and sites. Let them know that your service offers the same type of social fun that they get from their games.
This is just a sample of your targeting options with Facebook. Instead of using just one option, use several so you can narrow down your audience and reach all of the right people. As a result, you will increase your return on investment with Facebook ads.