Facebook Removes Fan Targeting

August 30, 2019

Christopher Spong
Facebook removes fan targeting

Facebook Again Suspends The Ability To Target Page Fans And Friends Of Fans

New Facebook Page connection types available to advertisers
New Facebook Page connection types available to advertisers

Background on Fan Targeting Removal

Last month, Facebook quietly took away the ability to target or exclude fans and friends of fans, replacing it with two variations of those connection types: “People who engaged with your Page” and “People similar to those who engaged with your Page.” Shortly after making this change, however, fan targeting returned, enabling advertisers to target both engaged users and fans or lookalikes of engaged users and friends of fans.

Both audience types remained as options for advertisers for several weeks. Unfortunately, the flexibility to target both connection types didn’t last, and the social network has again rolled back targeting of “People who like your Page” and “Friends of people who like your Page.”

Key Differences Between Engaged Users And Fans

Beyond the small difference in the names, Facebook’s edit to the connection types will affect how Page owners are able to engage fans/followers. With organic Page reach across Facebook hovering in the low single-digit percentages, the ability to explicitly engage acquired followers with content is no more. By eliminating the “People who like your Page” connection type, Facebook has essentially lowered the value of a fan/follower for advertisers.

For those hoping the new “People who engaged with your Page” connection type will still help reach fans/followers, it’s important to consider their advertising and content promotion strategy up to this point. Pages that have employed regular post promotion targeting fans/followers may see many of the same users engaged with their content going forward. Other Pages, however, will need to rely on organic distribution to engage current followers and enter them into the new pool of engaged users. Additionally, Pages that have regularly promoted content to fans/followers and other audiences will likely see audiences greater than or equal to total Page likes when using the new connection type. Pages that have not been promoting content regularly will likely see smaller audience estimates as fewer total users are eligible for targeting via the connection type.

Unfortunately, (and unsurprisingly), it does not appear that Facebook will give advertisers insight into the ratio of fans to non-fans in the “People who engaged with your Page” connection type. Pages that regularly advertise to broad audiences will likely see larger potential reach figures but can assume a lower percentage of fans within that pool of Facebook users. Conversely, Pages that have not advertised on Facebook as heavily will see smaller audience pools from this connection type but can assume a greater portion are current fans/followers.

When it comes to “People similar to those who engaged with your Page”, it can be assumed this targeting will yield a stronger potential audience pool than its previous equivalent, “Friends of people who like your Page.” With the vast amount of data Facebook is able to collect on its users, the social network’s ability to build similar audiences based on user behavior and interests is likely more valuable to advertisers than the previous “friends” connection.

 New Facebook custom audience types available to advertisers
New Facebook custom audience types available to advertisers

In addition to the new connection types, advertisers are also able to create custom audience groups based off of Page engagement. The default Page engagement type is “Everyone who engaged with your Page,” which is defined as including “everyone who visited your Page or engaged with your Page’s content or ads on Facebook or Messenger.” The default window for when this engagement or visit can have taken place is 365 days, which can be shortened but not extended.

In testing, Nina Hale observed that the “Everyone who engaged with your Page” custom audience tends to yield smaller potential reach estimates than the “People who engaged with your Page” connection type. This implies the connection type may have a broader definition of “engaged with your Page” or use a wider range of time than the custom audience tool’s one-year window.

What This Means For Marketers

As one door closes, another has opened for Page owners looking to distribute content to highly engaged users. Although “People who engaged with your Page” may not be fans/followers, they are still more likely to continue engaging than general users. Additionally, the “People similar to those who engaged with your Page” connection type may be even better for advertisers due to Facebook’s ability to group users based on behavior and interests.

No matter the connection types, it’s important to continue experimenting with audiences, content, and objectives. Pages that regularly promote content should carefully consider all targeting options available and work to build the best possible audience groups to align with broader brand goals.