If Facebook is going to keep brand marketers on its side, there's little argument that it's going to have to give them a greater level of insight into their Facebook audiences and campaigns. And when it comes to engaging with all those people who 'like' a particular brand, Facebook is going to have to give marketers a greater level of control.
It appears to be doing just that with new enhanced post targeting functionality that is being rolled out to Facebook Page admins.
What is it?
As reported by Inside Facebook's Brittany Darwell, the new functionality gives Facebook Page owners the ability to target Page posts based on age and gender. Previously, location and language were the only targeting options. What's more: reports indicate that additional options are coming. These would expand the targeting options to include relationship status, education status, colleges, workplace and interests.
According to an email Facebook sent to some Page admins, the enhanced targeting "will become available to all pages" in the coming weeks. It also notes that the functionality will only impact news feeds; "All content will still remain on the Page since this is the only way to allow friends of engaged fans who don’t meet the targeting criteria to see viral stories."
What this means for marketers
As 360i's Matt Wurst sees it, "post targeting is the biggest thing to happen to Facebook in a long time." He explains:
Prior to this update, community managers had no way of tailoring content to specified groups beyond region and language. Now, a CPG brand whose primarily audience is moms can also create a parallel content strategy for Millennials. The implications for community management and content strategy are huge.
This update gives marketers the ability to boost social engagement by crafting more detailed and sophisticated content calendars that are tailored to the nuances of their brand’s audience. With more sophisticated content strategies will come greater engagement, as marketers will be hyper-relevant to the behaviors and preferences of various consumer groups.
Given the significant investments that many brands are making in their Facebook Pages, being able to target Page posts to specific segments of a Facebook Page audience is indeed an important development. As brands seek to determine ROI and address social media fatigue, being able to deliver more relevant content as opposed to one-size-fits-all messaging could be very helpful.
But will brands actually use their new power effectively? And just how worthwhile is trying?
The good and the bad
For certain brands, the type of Facebook Page segmentation that the social network's enhanced post targeting functionality enables would only increase the amount of time it takes to manage a Facebook Page. Companies continue to struggle with social media measurement -- a long-standing problem -- and if a company doesn't know what its Facebook Page efforts are producing in terms of ROI, it's not clear that more granular targeting of posts will do anything other than create a false sense of increased effectiveness.
With this in mind, enhanced post targeting may be both a blessing and a curse, allowing marketers to do the type of targeting that they know works well in other channels (like email) but without the ability to determine exactly what it's getting them.