Using Facebook as a Data Source

By: Samantha Bedford

Advertising on Facebook is unrivaled in a lot of ways, but so is their prolific data collection that allows advertisers unparalleled access to data research tools that would otherwise be very expensive to utilize.

Audience Insights
How do you use Facebook Audience Insights to extract meaningful information? The audience insights portion of the Facebook Ads interface is a great place to start looking for audience information to help inform your online and offline efforts. Here you’ll be able to look at top-line audience comparisons of all Facebook users. When you first visit the page, you’ll be presented with several options of how you want to slice and dice the specific data.

Everyone on Facebook
If you choose this option, you can look at aggregate information for everyone on Facebook, though this is typically only relevant when you want to compare all of Facebook’s users against a specific data set, or if you’re trying to make an argument that a client should be advertising on Facebook over another network. The fact is that when it comes to Facebook, almost 70% of American adults are there.

This option also gives you a starting point for audiences that you might want to build out for ads. For instance, let’s say that we were going to start a new campaign for a homebuilder, and we wanted to know the household income of people who live in Denver. In this case, you’ll see that 18% of the people who live in Denver have a HHI between $150,000 – $250,000 and that audience over-indexes comparative to all U.S. Facebook users by 43%. This could be a potentially viable audience to start building an ad around, because they can afford the high-end homes that your client builds.

Facebook Household Income

People Connected to your Page
This section is largely duplicative of the data sets that you’ll see within your Page Analytics, however, it does allow you to dive deeper into that audience than you are able to within the Page itself. Please note that this data can only be pulled from Pages that you have administrative rights to manage.

Let’s say for instance that you would like to know what types of buyer profiles the people that like your page fall into.

Facebook Page Analytics

This data is pulled from Personicx and often-times needs explanation. For instance, for this sample audience, Active Lifestyles is relatively self-explanatory, but Firmly Established might leave you questioning who falls into a “Firmly Established” category. In our experience, hovering over the Lifestyle listed doesn’t necessarily give us the full insight into the audience that we might need, but a simple Google Search will yield a detailed PDF of every audience segment listed. If you’re curious what this looks like, here’s the Firmly Established audience segment.

A Custom Audience
This segment is where things get interesting. No longer are you simply bound to connections that you can make on Facebook, but you’re also able to utilize Facebook to stitch together information on other data sources that you own. For instance, do you want to know the average income and gender breakdown of your email list? Upload a Custom Audience and find out. Do you want to know whether the people that visit your landing page are homeowners? Place a Facebook Pixel on your site and see that data.

Facebook Custom Audience

The key to unlocking this data is knowing where to look, and Facebook allows you to pair all sorts of data into a Custom Audience – it doesn’t necessarily just include online data either. You could create a Custom Audience from your customer list to determine what your best customers have in common, or if there are any learnings that you can infer when you compare your most active customers to your least active customers. The possibilities are essentially endless and the best of all, using this tool is free regardless of whether you plan on actually advertising on Facebook.

Facebook has a ton of data at their disposal, and they do a fairly good job of giving advertisers information to help inform their decisions regarding the platform, but using Facebook as a data source for your other marketing efforts is just a smart, cost-effective move. If you’re looking for competitor insights, or more minute data on geographies, stay-tuned for an upcoming post where we’ll show you how to pull this data manually to extract truly rich data.

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