Although the news is only a few days old at this point, mentions of Facebook’s Enhanced Post Targeting, outlined in yesterday’s Econsultancy post, and briefly below, is a feature that has been on my wishlist (yes, I have a running Facebook Innovation Wishlist!) for quite some time – and I am glad to see it taking shape. 

The Enhanced Targeting feature hasn’t been rolled out, and still is not 100% announced yet, however, it looks promising that the feature will come to fruition and will be available to Page Admins. We have the ability to target self-serve ad units the same way – so the tools and data sets are there to make this happen.

Here’s a brief overview of the basics:

Facebook has allowed for targeting based on language and locations for some time now. The new enhancements are said to include the following criteria:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Interested in…
  • Relationship Status
  • Workplace

With the power of Enhanced Post Targeting at our fingertips, it will become increasingly important to not be too distracted by the sexiness of fanbase segmentation.

Just because the features are available, doesn’t mean every post should be targeted. When the feature does roll out, I could see this being exploited and could see it doing more harm than good – declines in overall post effectiveness and chance of tageting ‘too much’ and coming across as ‘intrusive’ to the end user.

Examples where Targeting Posts would be helpful:

  1. A popular multivitamin company has many lines of vitamins – some for users that are Under 50, and some that are for users who are 50+. Not all Facebook fans are interested in reading about all of the vitamin offerings, so targeted posts, based on age would definitely be useful. However, it’s important to also implement similar posts, at other points in the month, that read the entire fanbase. A user who is Under 50, may be making purchasing decisions for users who are 50+, or vica versa
  2. A local restaurant may have fans from several colleges in a 10 mile radius. This restaurant in particular tends to skew younger due to the food, price, andatmosphere. It’d be advantageous to target posts about dorm delivery service and on-campus events at fans from that college in particular. That way, fans from each college are receiving the most relevant information.

Examples of how Targeting Posts could go awry:

  1. Do not create several post versions that only have one line that is different
    Using contextual lead ins such as “Hey Moms -” or “Hey Dads -”, but not switching up the few lines after it may do well in terms of engagement in newsfeeds, however, we have to also consider the users that will go to the Facebook Fanpage, view the timeline, and see several different versions of the same post – clunky.
  2. Do not hyper target unless you need to 
    Limiting a post by several dimensions could exclude other interested audiences.For example, the NY Yankees may want to target a post at Men who are 25-34 about their season tickets pre-sales. Targeting this group is different than targeting Men who are 25-34, have Baseball listed as an interest and live in New York City. By hyper-targeting, they would be limiting a large audience of users who may potentially be interested in the offer. Not all users put all of their interests on Facebook. Not all Yankees fans only live in New York either – some travel from New Jersey or Connecticut.

There are so many more examples that illustrate when to Target Posts and when to not. It will be up to us marketers to strike a balance – how often should we aim to target? Is there a concrete reason why we need to target? Will the end user feel that the communication is sincere and contextually relevant?

Only time will tell and I can’t wait to see this update in action.