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There are less creepy ways you can use Facebook to understand your audience and help serve them better.

Facebook has become a massive place for businesses to advertise. From book advertisement to local plumbing companies to giants like Nike, everyone is wanting to get their ads shown as Facebook is the most popular social media. But there are some concerns that have popped up with the latest regarding Cambridge Analytica. As a user, you’re probably reading a lot today about Cambridge Analytica’s “breach” of Facebook audience data and possibly getting a little scared about sharing too much information. As a marketer (and I put my guesstimate at 50% since you’re reading this), you are probably also thinking to yourself – didn’t Cambridge Analytica simply use Facebook Ads the way it was meant to? The tldr on that is no, they didn’t. But there’s no reason why you can’t use Facebook data to understand your audience in a less-creepy manner. And here’s how.

1. Setting it up.

Even if you don’t want to mess with U.S. elections, you will still want to know who comes to your website. For instance, if you are attracting mostly men above the age of 35 to your website, your strategy for reaching out to them will probably differ considerably than if more women below 25 were heading to your website.

You can get a fair sense of this by first installing Facebook’s pixel on your website. Once you’re done with setting up Facebook’s code, your website will start sharing user information with Facebook – assuming those users are already on Facebook. Give it a few days, ideally 15-30 days to get enough data to provide a somewhat accurate assessment.

Then simply head on to your Facebook Ads Manager page, and find the section called Assets > Audiences. Then go to Create Audience > Custom Audience> Website Traffic, like below:

This is basically telling Facebook that it should take the website traffic information through its pixel, look for the same audience on Facebook, and give you some colorful information on their behavior.

Simply fill up the form and hit Done. On the next page, you should see a table highlighting the audience you just created and a notification that the audience is being created. That’s all!

2. Understanding demographics

The above process can take some time to complete. Once the audience mapping is completed, go to Plan > Audience Insights and choose Custom Audience on the next step.

On the next page, you will be asked to enter the Custom Audience you’d like to analyse. Simply choose the Custom Audience you created in Step 1 and hit Enter. Double check if a specific country is chosen in the filters – if there is, hit the x next to it to remove the country filter. You should come to see something like this:

3. Understanding their preferences.

It isn’t enough to simply look at demographics of your audiences. No two 30-year olds like the same music – one might like old Bollywood movie songs and another might prefer hard rock from the 70s. What’s true though is this: the Facebook pages that the two 30-year olds “like” will be a good representation of what they like in real life. Look at the section below:

Once you’ve reviewed what pages your audience likes on Facebook, head over to the Activity section. One of the tables on that page will show you what device they’re using to access Facebook. A comparison of this with Google Analytics data on how the audience is accessing your own website will help you prioritize your Facebook advertising efforts. For instance, if Google Analytics points out that your website has a higher conversion rate through desktop, but you get more traffic (or high traffic, in any case) through mobile – and your audience tends to access Facebook more through mobile, then you know you have to take a look at your mobile web/app to determine what you’re doing wrong. Traffic is essential so you must be doing something right to have people visiting your site, perhaps you just need to make a few amendments. The tips from Entrepreneursbreak might be useful if you’re making tweaks.

None of the above are set in stone, or may work for everyone equally. That is also why I have not pointed out what you must do based on the data above. The truth of the data depends on what the goal is – to increase your sales or overthrow certain democracies.


Product and Marketing guy. Ex-founder of $10m re-commerce company, with extensive experience in B2B and B2C product design, revenue management, and sleepless nights.

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