A Basic Guide to Audiences for Brands Advertising on Facebook & Instagram

It’s an undeniable truth that audiences are the lifeblood of Paid Social and ensuring that you are targeting the correct one can be tricky. At Return, we’ve adopted a completely ‘Audience First’ approach to what we do. Applying this mentality is the trick to guaranteeing that our campaigns are reaching the most relevant people, at the correct times, and at the most appropriate touchpoints. 

Generally speaking, there’s no one audience that will create the perfect Paid Social campaign, but there are some key factors to take into account when designing your campaigns that will help you on your way: 

Targeting Types  

Facebook offers a multitude of different targeting techniques, not all of which are correct for any given campaign. The 3 core audience types that Facebook offers are:  

Saved Audience  

This offers you the ability to create a completely fresh audience from scratch, using a combination of users’ interests, demographics and online behaviours to pinpoint the perfect person for your brand. Make sure you know your audience! Delve into any analytical tool you have at your disposal (Facebook’s Audience Insights is very handy here) to really drill down to what your core audience is. Even if that means stalking a few individuals on Instagram to get a feel for their life. Key attributes to target by include: 

  • Competitor brands   
  • Lifestyle / recreational activities (sporty vs. gamers vs. gig go-er vs. makeup obsessed) 
  • Media consumption (magazines, music artists, TV shows, websites) 
  • Behavioural (big spenders, likely to shop from an ad)

makeu-gym-gamer image

Custom Audience  

This option gives you the ability to target people who have previously interacted with your brand in some way, therefore forming the basis of most retargeting campaigns. This could be by visiting your website, watching a video on your timeline, downloading your app, or even just a list of newsletter sign-ups. Note that some of these audiences require an on-site Pixel to create. Key audiences to consider include:  

  • Web Visitors (Pixel) 
  • View Content (Pixel) 
  • Add to Cart (Pixel)  
  • Engaged with Page, Post or Ad  
  • Interacted with Fullscreen Experience (AKA Canvas/Collection ads)


Lookalike Audience   

The backbone of any Paid Social campaign, these are Facebook’s method of helping brands reach new audiences that closely resemble that of an existing audience. Take care to select the strongest base for your new Lookalike, using only accurate and up-to-date data. Some of the strongest audiences we see for eCommerce brands include:  

  • 1% Lookalike of Purchasers (Pixel data and email list)  
  • 1% Lookalike of Website Visitors (Pixel data)  
  • 1% Lookalike of Engaged with Post/Ad  


Audience Size 

It’s important to ensure that the size of audience you’re going after matches the campaign objective and the budget at hand. The combination of budget and audience size effectively gives you an indication of what your ad frequencies will be, or more specifically how many times you’re going to hit the same person with the same ad. 

For example, there’s little point having an audience of 5 mil+ with a budget of £50 as it will barely scrape the surface and would have little impact. Whereas on the flipside you can do some serious damage to your brand if your budget outweighs your audience, which results in hitting the same people with the same ad repetitively. 

When retargeting you can expect your audience pools to be much smaller due to the super-targeted nature of these audiences. You can find yourself quickly burning through them if you do not set an appropriately sized budget and do not continue to fill the funnel with more users.  

Again, there is no magic number that works for all campaigns, though Facebook does suggest an ad frequency of 1-2 per week. In our experience, we find that frequencies should differ between campaigns, with top of funnel audiences remaining in-line with Facebook’s suggestions, and retargeting audiences performing the strongest within the 3-6 range.    


Got plenty of creative ideas for your ad campaigns, but struggling to reach the right audience? Then we’re here to help you! Get in touch today to find out more about what our talented team can offer your business.  

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