Introduced in 2014, the Facebook Audience Insights tool equips you to create and deliver relevant messages for your audience. Designed to help marketers learn more about the audience they want to reach, the Audience Insights tool provides relevant data for Facebook advertisers such as page likes, location, what your target audience’s household looks like and their buyer behavior.

Audience Insights differ from Facebook’s Page Insights because it looks at trends about your current or potential customers across Facebook, whereas Page Insights looks at interactions with your page (e.g., likes, comments and shares).

As with many Facebook tools, Audience Insights is free and user-friendly. Follow the steps below to help improve your Facebook strategy and hone tactics to create winning social media advertising campaigns, time and time again.

How-to-guide to Facebook Audience Insights

Step 1: Access Audience Insights

  • Go to Facebook's Business Manager page.
  • Click on the menu, located at the top, left corner of the page.
  • Under the word “plan”, you will see “Audience Insights.” Click to launch the audience insights tool.
  • A box labeled “Choose an audience to start” will pop-up. You can choose from:

Everyone on Facebook, which gives you an overview of all data available from Facebook. Selecting “Everyone on Facebook” will give you a general overview with data based on broad interests or competitor's pages.

People connected to your page, which directs you to select a Facebook page from your list of managed pages. Selecting “people connected to your page” helps you understand your current audience.

Note: This is only a prompt; you can change your answer at a later date. Selecting either one will take you directly to the Audience Insights tool.

facebook-audience-insights-start-box

Image credit: Facebook

Step 2: Create an audience

From the left column, locate “Create Audience.” From here you can segment your audience by age, gender, interests, people connected to your page and more advanced data such as behavior, language, education, work, etc.

  • To create your audience, first, select your target location.
  • The location default is the United States.
  • To change the location, hover the mouse over the current location settings and click on the "X" that appears on the right side of the box.

audience-location-box Image credit: Facebook

Note: Facebook allows you to add as many countries, cities or places as you want or you can leave it blank to explore the world.

  • To add a geographical location, type the desired country, region or city, in the white box. Facebook’s AI will offer different suggestions, such as variations on Brazil, as shown below.

search-box-facebook-audience-insights-tool-geographic-locator Image credit: Facebook

  • Next, input the desired age range and gender for your audience.

age-and-gender-input Image credit: Facebook

  • Further define your audience through the addition of user interests. Facebook offers multiple filter categories which, when clicked upon, offer additional, more granular options.

setting-up-your-audiences-interests Image credit: Facebook

  • Data can also be segmented according to people who like one of your managed pages. As you can see below, selecting this option brought up the author’s list of fan pages. Selecting one, two or all will change your audience’s unique makeup.

pulling-your-audience-based-on-fan-pages-liked Image credit: Facebook

  • Finally, to refine your audience further, select the advanced features to focus on in-depth data such as political affiliation, language or relationship status.

setting-up-your-audience-based-on-advanced-demographic-parameters Image credit: Facebook

Step 3: Play with the data

As an example, we've created an audience located in Wisconsin, with both men and women who are between the ages of 18-64. Our audience likes the winning combination of soft drinks and fall football. Let’s follow this audience through the Facebook Audience Insights tool.

setting-up-your-audience-box-with-all-options Image credit: Facebook

Tip: To refine your results, continue to segment further to see how the audience size changes according to added or deleted parameters.

Step 4: Get granular

It’s time to explore the tabs across the top of the Facebook Audience Insight tool to see what our audience looks like.

facebook-audience-insights-demographics-tool Image credit: Facebook

The tabs across the top of the Audience Insights tool contributes additional information about an audience. By selecting a tab, you will glean insights into what your audience looks like — the Facebook pages they like, where they live, what they do and, if they live in the U.S., household and purchase information.

The six available tabs consist of:

  • Demographics
  • Page likes
  • Location
  • Activity
  • Household – U.S. only
  • Purchase – U.S. only

Tab 1: Demographics

The demographics tab includes information on age, gender, lifestyle (U.S. only), plus relationship status, education and job title.

Here is a screenshot of our newly created Wisconsin audience.

demographics-2-tab-facebook-audience-insights-tab Image credit: Facebook

As you can see, our targeted audience (Wisconsin residents who have an interest in soft drinks and fall football) consists of 56% women and 44% men. It’s curious, but with each advancing age segment, our audience’s interest in soda seems to decrease.

At the top left of the box, we see that our total audience consists of 200K - 250K monthly active users.

You can segment further by clicking on the left-hand menu throughout the process. It will immediately change your results, allowing you to observe in real-time how the addition or deletion of parameters changes audience makeup.

For example, if you wanted to just look at the female segment of this audience, you can select “females” from the left column’s menu.

This can be done for all options (age, gender, and more advanced options including behavior, language, relationship status, job title, etc.).

Lifestyle segments

Lifestyle segments are as varied as customer demographics. Facebook uses Acxiom Data Guru to accumulate customer information and aggregate geographic, demographic and psychographic data into named subgroups.

audience-lifestyle-categories Image credit: Facebook

According to Acxiom, our audience’s top three Lifestyle segments have names like Country Comfort, Rural Parents and Outward Bound. With this information, you can easily search the web for a description of your audience’s segment.

For example, “Country Comfort” is described by NTVB media as:

People found Iiving in placid towns and scenic bedroom communities, these Americans tend to be married, mostly between the ages of 25 and 54, with or without children. They enjoy barbecuing, bar-hopping and playing golf as well as home-based activities such as gardening, woodworking, and crafts. Reflecting their rural, family environment, they prefer trucks, SUVs, and minivans to cars.

Relationship status and education level

This section further refines the picture we are creating about our audience. Remember, we want to know who they are and where they are in life.

audience-relationship-status-and-education Image credit: Facebook

Our example shows that 57.9% of the audience self-identify as being either married or in a relationship, while 65.1% indicate a college education. This self-identified information corresponds with the above Country Comfort description, as more than half of the audience reports being in a relationship.

Job Title

Further information is given by Facebook as to the common job titles found within our audience, as grouped by industry segments. For our audience, 28% are likely to be employed in the food preparation and services field and have a +65% more likelihood of working in the food industry, as compared to Facebook users as a whole.

audience-job-title Image credit: Facebook

Tab 2: Page likes The page likes tab is divided into two sections: top categories and page likes.

The first section details the top categories of pages liked, along with the top pages within those categories. Through this list, we gain greater clarity into the audience’s preferred content and audience specific interests.

audience-page-likes Image credit: Facebook

According to this section, our Wisconsin audience likes to buy their groceries from the Pick 'n Save and is proud to live in 'America’s Dairyland.' They show their sports enthusiasm through the endorsement of local “businesses” like Lambeau Field, Miller Park and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

The second section outlines the specific pages that this audience is more likely to “like” than the average Facebook user.

Facebook predicts our sports-loving audience will also probably like pages such as the Milwaukee Brewers (34.6% affinity) and the Wisconsin Badgers (32.5% affinity). And, who can turn down funnel cakes at the Wisconsin State Fair? Not our audience as 51.9% have an affinity for the annual event.

facebook-audience-page-likes Image credit: Facebook

Tab 3: Location

The third available tab is named “location.” You can see potentially useful information such as the top cities, top countries and top languages for your audience.

As we already have this data filtered to only include the state of Wisconsin, the “Top Countries” tab will show only the United States.

The “Top Cities” tab gives us an idea of the geographical location where the audience is based. If you have a local or regional business, this data will be able to tell you if your page is reaching the right audience for your location.

facebook-audience-insights-tab-location Image credit: Facebook

As would be expected, the majority of our audience resides in the state’s two largest metropolitan survey areas (MSA), Milwaukee and Madison.

Tab 4: Activity

The fifth tab, “Activity,” helps us understand the audience’s behavior on Facebook by showing us the average number of pages liked, along with the number of engagements (comments, likes, shares and ad clicks) made in the last 30 days.

It also shows us the type of devices used to access Facebook. Devices are split between mobile and desktop, followed by segmentation, operating system and manufacturer.

audience-frequency-of-activities Image credit: Facebook

By looking at the frequency of activity graphs, we can see how active this audience is on Facebook. For example, our audience has a median number of 4 pages liked, along with 37 posts liked and 36 ads clicked. This audience is more active than the typical number of people on Facebook, making this a possible win as a marketer.

For the second category, we can see that the ‘iPhone/iPod’ and ‘Android’ are the two most popular here. What’s interesting is that 52% of our audience uses both desktop and mobile to access Facebook. That’s almost 10% more than most Facebook users.

Tab 5: Household

The household tab yields important information about our audience, such as household income, home ownership status, home market value and spending methods.

facebook-audience-insight-tab-household Image credit: Facebook

The highest estimated income for our audience falls in the $50–75K (27%) and the $76–100K range (23%).

70.2% are thought to own a home, that is -6% less than other Facebook users.

Finally, the remaining three data groups show an average home value of $100–200 thousand, with 70% of their money being spent for gas or at a convenience store. Other information predicted is an estimate of their cash vs. credit behavior and whether they prefer a bank card or any card.

household-expenditure-and-spending-methods-facebook-insights-tool Image credit: Facebook

Tab 6: Purchase

This final insight tab estimates the audience’s retail spend and online purchase behavior as compared to other Facebook users.

Facebook-audience-insight-tab-purchase Image credit: Facebook

Facebook breaks down below our audiences spending by category. Use this to determine if your audience would be interested in your product or service. audience-expenditures-by-category Image credit: Facebook

Additionally, it gives us information into their purchase behavior and, if they are looking for a car, what they might purchase.

audience-vehicle-preferences-facebook-audiences-insight-tool As with all the other audience estimates, use this information to help create detailed, buyer personas and to make informed advertising decisions.

Step 4: Save your audience

Are you satisfied with your audience? Can you use it to improve messaging and engage with Facebook users? If yes, remember to name and save your audience.

Click ‘Save’ at the top of the page and name your audience in the pop-up box. If you plan to create many audience segments, you might want to store each audience profile on an excel spreadsheet.

This audience data can be found in Power Editor and selected within your campaigns. You can also use the open option, which is to the left of Save to access a previously saved audience.

Conclusion

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool can help you improve your ad campaigns and messaging. Experiment with different parameters to truly understand the power of this valuable tool.

Lynn Pedotto

Lynn Pedotto

Lynn Pedotto is a writer who holds an MS from Medill. In addition to covering all things social, she’s a policy wonk who loves to write about government.