What Facebook’s Preferred Audience Tool Means for Your Business

| 2060 Digital

Facebook recently announced the release of their “Preferred Audience” tool, just one feature of a new suite of organic audience targeting tools collectively known as “Audience Optimization.” This new initiative is designed to provide unprecedented insight into the interests, likes and dislikes of a page’s audience, to better identify and attract the segments that are the most responsive. If you’re interested in learning how to increase audience interaction with your Facebook Page and posts, read on to find out more about how the “Preferred Audience” tool can give your business a significant boost in social engagement.

How Does the Preferred Audience Tool Work?

The Preferred Audience tool allows you to add certain “interest tags” to your content, which help Facebook’s algorithms identify which topics will be of the most interest to your target audience. The interest tags essentially prioritize the content you publish to best match users’ likes and preferences, which Facebook is constantly monitoring through various information-gathering mechanisms such as their Open Graph pages (articles, videos, music, etc. being shared by users) and Facebook Ads tags.

The Preferred Audience tool allows you, the Page manager, to select who your “preferred audience” will be for your content by performing a quick search-and-select action for the interest categories that are most relevant to your post. In order to prevent Page managers from typing in interests that are far too broad or too narrow, Facebook auto-completes the various interest categories, and then displays the total audience size for each interest. Keep in mind that the audience numbers for each interest will not be comprised of your Facebook followers only, but they will represent how that interest fares among all Facebook users site wide.

Facebook’s Interest Categories: A Gold Mine for Publishers

The interest categories created by Facebook are largely based on how much “chatter” surrounds a given topic, idea, celebrity, travel destination, political candidate, news item, etc., and they give you a glimpse into the popularity of various subjects among the whole of Facebook’s massive user base. The interests made available to you through the Preferred Audience interface include everything from Beyonce to archery, and according to Facebook’s own description, they represent people who have “expressed an interest in or like pages related to” a given topic.

What this lets you know is that this audience has already demonstrated a significant level of active engagement with topics or interests that are similar to the content you have to offer, so there’s a high likelihood that they’ll also take an interest in your published posts. It should be noted, however, that a large audience size for a given interest does not immediately indicate an overwhelmingly positive sentiment; for example, polarizing topics and hot-button issues may have just as many people against a particular social issue, celebrity, political figure, etc., as for it. Facebook is simply keeping track of the amount of chatter surrounding the topic, whether good or bad.

What Facebook’s Preferred Audience Tool Means for Your Business

As it often does with new tool or platform releases, Facebook asked a handful of major publishers of digital content to give their Audience Optimization suite a test drive just to see how the Preferred Audience tool would work in practice. The highly popular sports website Bleacher Report tested the new suite for three months, after which time it reported a “considerable lift” in engagement. Posts from Bleacher Report that utilized interest tags saw significant increases in click-through rates, shares, comments and likes. The New York Times also reported a successful test run of the Audience Optimization suite, commenting that their stories were better able to penetrate various niche communities on Facebook (e.g., sports fans, TV show fans, etc.) through the use of interest tags. In addition, iconic entertainment publisher MTV reported that Facebook’s new tool did an excellent job of “picking apart” and segmenting their massive audience in order to better match Facebook users with the stories and content that would best attract their interest.

For your business, Facebook’s Preferred Audience tool enables you to have more information at your fingertips regarding which users are most likely to be interested in your content. This in turn helps Facebook to display your posts to the people who will care about them the most. This will benefit your business by enabling you to present your content to the most relevant subset of your target audience without restricting your reach.