Facebook’s targeting options are worth getting excited about, like nothing else you’ll find in the PPC industry right now. The kind of multi-layered targeting you can achieve on the social network is unrivalled, mostly thanks to all the personal information we hand over to it.

So today we want to test your knowledge on Facebook’s targeting options. Because, if you don’t know the full list of options and how to combine them, you’re missing out on the best of Facebook advertising.

First, the basics

Before we get into the exciting stuff, let’s quickly run through the basics you would expect from any advertising platform right now.

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Languages

Okay, so big deal. Nothing to get worked up about on this first list – or is there? Well, actually, yes there is because even Facebook’s location targeting is tons more powerful than you’ll find on most platforms. With this handy little targeting option you can do all of the following:

  • Target everyone one in a specific location
  • Target people who live in a location
  • Target people recently in a location
  • Target people currently travelling in a location

Already you can see how detailed your targeting options are on Facebook. You can even advertise your restaurant specifically to people travelling in your area right now. And there’s more.

Beyond the basics – getting personal

Where Facebook really starts coming into its own is personal information, allowing you to create highly relevant ads and reach people on quite an intimate level. You can target and combine any number of the following options to pinpoint incredibly specific buying personas:

  • Relationship: A wide range of relationship statuses and sexual preference.
  • Education: Education level, field of study, schools and even undergrad years.
  • Work: Current and previous companies; job titles; industries and “office type”.
  • Finances: Income and net worth.
  • Home: Home type, ownership status and household composition.
  • Generation: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.
  • Parents: New parents, parents by the age of their children and a range of “Moms” specifically.

Now we’re talking about pinpointing married couples, who have recently had kids, living in a £500,000+ home. Or how about single mothers under the age of 30 who are renting a small property in your local area?

We’re already getting this specific with our targeting options and combinations.

Facebook Life Events

One of the biggest breakthroughs in Facebook advertising was the network introducing Life Events in 2011. If things haven’t already gotten a little creepy for you, hold on to your personals because nothing stays private with Facebook targeting.

Here are some of the Life Events you can target:

  • New job
  • Moved home or location
  • Upcoming birthday
  • New relationship
  • Recently engaged (within 3 months, 6 months or 1 year)
  • Recently got married (within 3 months, 6 months or 1 year)
  • Upcoming anniversary
  • Expecting a baby
  • Recently had a child

There are various other Life Events you can target, too, but we find these are the Life Events people actually add to their time lines.

Targeting interests on Facebook

More recently, Facebook has introduced a number of interest targeting options as well. As the name suggests, this taps into their interests and activities based on everything they do on Facebook – the content they engage with, pages they like and closely related topics.

You might want to take a deep breath for this bit, because the list is pretty long:

  • Business & Industry: Advertising, Agriculture, Architecture, Aviation, Banking, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare, Higher Education, Management, Marketing, Nursing, Online, Personal Finance, Real Estate, Retail, Sales, Science, Small Business.
  • Entertainment: Games, Life Events, Movies, Music, Reading, TV.
  • Family & Relationships: Family, Fatherhood, Motherhood, Friendship, Dating, Marriage, Weddings, Parenting.
  • Fitness & Wellness: Bodybuilding, Dieting, Gyms, Meditation, Nutrition, Physical Exercise, Physical Fitness, Running, Weight Training, Yoga, Zumba.
  • Food & Drink: Alcoholic Beverages, Beverages, Cooking, Cuisine, Food, Restaurants.
  • Hobbies & Activities: Arts & Music, Current Events, Home & Garden, Pets, Politics & Social Issues, Travel, Vehicles.
  • Shopping & Fashion: Beauty, Clothing, Fashion Accessories, Shopping, Toys.
  • Sports & Outdoors: Outdoor Recreation, Sports.
  • Technology: Computers, Consumer Electronics.

So you can pretty much guarantee your ads are seen by people with a proven interest in your products/services. This gets you off to a great start, no matter what industry you’re in, but things get really interesting when you combine interest targeting with behaviour targeting.

Targeting behaviour on Facebook

Thanks to features like Life Events and a growing number of conversions that take place inside Facebook (and outside), you can now target people based on their real-world behaviour. This includes recent purchases, travel, device usage and a range of other behaviours.

  • Digital Activities: Games Played, Events Created, Facebook Payments, Facebook Page Admins, Internet Browsers Used, Operating Systems Used and more.
  • Purchase Behaviour: Business Purchases, Buyer Profiles, Clothing, Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Household Products, Kids’ Products, Pet Products, Purchase Habits, Purchase Types, Sports & Outdoors, Store Types, Subscription Services, Technology.
  • Travel: All Frequent Travellers, Business Travellers, Casino Vacations, Commuters, Cruises, Currently Travelling, Family Vacations, Frequent International Travellers, Frequent Flyers, Leisure Travellers, Personal Travellers, Returned from Trip, Timeshares, Used a Travel App.
  • Mobile Device User: All Mobile Devices by Brand, All Mobile Devices by OS, All Mobile Devices, Feature Phones, Network Connection, New Smartphone and tablet Owners, Smartphone and Tablet Owners, Smartphone Owners, Smartphones & Tablets, Tablet Owners.

We could go on, but some behaviour data is only available in the US and we’re worried your eyes might pop if we keep rolling out these lists. Basically, you can hone in on a crazy amount of specific behaviours and product choices to combine with interests and other targeting methods.

Reach people already connected with your brand

As with any advertising platform, your job isn’t done once you get the lead or make the first sale. You want to tap into these connections again, nurture those leads and get people back to buy again. To make this happen, Facebook also provides the following targeting options under “Connections”:

  • People who like your page
  • Friends of people who like your page
  • Exclude people who like your page
  • People who used your app
  • Friends of people who used your app
  • Exclude people who used your app
  • People who are going to your event
  • Friends of people who are going to your event
  • Exclude people who are going to your event

With these options you can create ads designed to reengage with your existing connections or exclude them for campaigns designed to get new leads only. Then you also have Facebook remarketing, which allows you to reconnect with the following people:

  • People who visited your website
  • Custom lists of emails
  • Custom lists of phone numbers
  • Custom lists of Facebook IDs

So that gives you an almost-complete roundup of the targeting options available on Facebook and, hopefully, you can see how specific you can get between them.

Combining targeting options to pinpoint user intent

The list of targeting options we’ve looked at today are impressive in their own right, but the Facebook magic really happens when you combine them to hone in on specific user intents. It could be recent car buyers who’ll need a new quote for insurance, people about to take a trip in need of a hotel or new mothers who have to buy all kinds of stuff in the space of nine months and for years after.

At a glance, all of this targeting potential might look overwhelming but the truth is you’ll probably never use most of them. However, what you will find is a select few combinations are essential to everything you do on Facebook – and having that capability is what sets this network apart.