One of the most underrated marketing tools I know happens to be free.
A few years ago, Facebook released their Audience Insights tool, which gives anyone the opportunity to learn about a particular demographic audience or group. This gives you factual data to help you better understand your customers, so that you can get beyond your assumptions to what’s actually true. You can search by traditional demographics (men between 25 and 35 who have completed college, people living in Texas who speak Spanish), learn about people who like popular Facebook pages, or look at people who like certain Facebook pages that are also in certain demographic groups (people who like Target who are also conservatives).
Note that you often can’t see information about smaller audiences that have fewer than 10,000 people on Facebook. So you do have to keep the niches you’re looking at relatively broad: if you want to see information about everyone who’s into Bonsai trees in your small town, you’ll be out of luck.
Here’s an example of what the tool can do. You can follow along inside the tool here. Let’s say we want to learn more about moms in the US (this is a very broad market – you’d most likely want to narrow it to moms with children of a specific age or living in a certain state or city, both of which you can do with this tool). In the menu on the left-hand side, we choose the US as our country, women, and then “All parents” in the Advanced section. First, we can see that most moms on Facebook are between 35 and 64 years old.
The gray bars represent the distribution of all Facebook users, and the blue bars represent our chosen audience. Looking at women 18-24, we see that the blue bar is much shorter than the gray bar: that means that a relatively small percentage of female Facebook users between 18 and 24 are moms. Contrast that with the 45-54 age group, where these Facebook users are much more likely to be moms.
Further down on this page, we can see that US moms are 108% more likely than the average Facebook user to be a nurse, but a larger total number of our moms work in the personal care industry. Notice how I sorted by the “Compare” column – you can sort by any column by clicking on it.
Clicking over to the Page Likes section, we can see that moms are 2.4 times more likely than the average Facebook user to like a page called Coupon Divas.
In the Activity section we can see that most moms access Facebook on both a desktop computer and a mobile device. Facebook users as a whole are a little different, with more accessing Facebook via a mobile device only. So moms are slightly different than the average Facebook user.
We could dive deeper and look at location, financial demographics, and purchasing behavior, but now you have a good idea of what the tool can tell you. It’s of course intended to help Facebook advertisers discover new audiences for their ads. However, you could also use this information to put together a customer profile or persona for a typical mom to help you visualize who you’re marketing to both on and off Facebook. To continue the mom example, based on what I saw in the tool, I’m now imagining a 45-year-old married woman who has a healthcare/wellness-related job. She’s a proud mom, a PopSugar fan, and a coupon clipper who’s slightly more likely to own an Android than an iPhone. She makes between $50 and $75k, owns her own home, and drives a small SUV.
How does that compare to your image of the stereotypical US mom that you may have held before taking a look at the data? I might have pictured a younger woman driving a minivan and not have expected her to be so likely to work in healthcare.
Finally, this is a great tool for competitive research as well. If your rivals have popular Facebook pages, you can see the demographics of their fans.
Always keep in mind that the data tells you about Facebook users ONLY, meaning it’s only accurate to the extent that your audience is active on the platform. In many profitable markets, that covers at least a good chunk of people. But if Facebook use isn’t popular among your audience (for example, people in their 80s or 90s), the data is much less reliable.
Today’s Action Step: Take a few minutes to explore your target audience in the Audience Insight tool. What have you now learned about the people you’re trying to reach?