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Your Guide to Social Media Targeting



These days, everyone is a publisher. Brands, consumers, businesses and agencies alike are creating digital content at a speed that far outpaces our ability to consume these messages.

Some publishers attempt to solve this problem strictly with creativity. While creativity is a component of high-performing content, it’s not the only factor to keep in mind. Another way to win attention in noisy social feeds is by being highly relevant. In order to stand out, it’s important that posts reach the right segments of an intended audience. This is why audience targeting has become a necessary component of successful social media publishing.

For paid content, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide robust targeting capabilities that enable publishers to define their reach through a bevy of demographic, user type and interest-level categories. However, social media targeting can be used strategically beyond paid social advertising.

Most social networks allow publishers to apply a level of targeting or custom visibility to organic posts. Setting custom visibility through Sprout Social’s available targeting criteria can increase engagement rates and provide a more relevant experience for your reader.

Learn how Sprout can help you reach a specific segment of your audience. Click on any of the links below to jump to the platform you wish to explore:

Accessing audience targeting from Sprout Compose

Sprout’s publishing tools make it easy to schedule, queue and post messages to multiple networks simultaneously and leverage unique social media targeting options for each individual network—all from a single intuitive Compose window.

This is extremely powerful. Not only does Compose centralize your social media publishing efforts, saving you time and ensuring a consistent voice across networks, but you can also deliver the most relevant messages to targeted segments of your communities.

To access the Audience Targeting options, click the targeting icon in the lower left corner of the Compose window. The menu populates with only the networks that correspond to the profiles that you want to publish to.

Sprout’s Audience Targeting capabilities are available to our Professional and Advanced users who are serious about targeting. If publishing targeted messages is part of your social media publishing strategy, no matter the size of your team or the audience you’re trying to reach, Sprout can help you achieve your goals.

Facebook audience targeting: Target your post

The Facebook News Feed has become a crowded space. With the ever-changing Facebook algorithm, ensuring a healthy reach can feel like a constant battle. Through organic Facebook Page post targeting, smart publishers have found new ways to optimize their organic reach. Unlike limiting your Facebook post’s audience (detailed below), organic Facebook targeting only affects what a user sees in their News Feed. In other words, regardless of whether a user fits the targeting criteria, the post will still be visible via Facebook search and while visiting your Page directly.

From Sprout, organic Facebook targeting can be applied to Page posts based on the following criteria:

  • Interests
  • Gender
  • Relationship Status
  • Educational Status
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
sprout compose window showing targeting options

The following are a few examples of potential organic Facebook targeting strategies:

  • An entertainment media company uses a combination of interests, age and gender to target each of its articles to a segment of its readership that is most likely to engage with the content.
  • A food delivery service uses location and educational status to share promo codes with current college students in targeted regions.
  • A global hospitality chain targets honeymoon themed posts to soon-to-be newlyweds using a combination of location, age, gender and relationship status criteria.
  • A national publication geared towards retirees uses age, location and interests to target its content to the most relevant readers.

In using organic Facebook targeting, you are providing a portion of your audience with content that resonates with them. Therefore, these users are more likely to engage. Once a user engages with your content, that user’s Facebook Friends have the opportunity to see your post even if they do not like your Page or do not fall within a specified audience. This is how organic Facebook Page post targeting can have a catalytic effect on a post’s organic reach.

Facebook audience targeting: Limit your post’s audience

While putting promotional dollars behind Facebook posts and targeting audiences by user type or interest-based criteria can be effective, there’s still a possibility for subjectivity. Plus, putting paid behind every social post isn’t a sustainable or effective strategy.

To that end, limiting your post’s audience through Sprout’s Facebook Audience Targeting tools enables you to take two of the most clear-cut audience attributes—language and location—and use them to ensure you’re not wasting impressions on fans who would find your content irrelevant.

From Sprout, you can limit your Facebook post’s audience based on country.

When selecting the country, you can start typing the name of the desired target and Sprout’s look-ahead smart search will refine the options in the dropdown menu, making it easy to find what you need.

sprout country targeting auto-complete

The following are a few scenarios where you can apply language and location targeting:

  • Posting regional content, such as location-specific promotions or events
  • A/B testing the popularity of a product in specific locations
  • Publishing translated posts to targeted subsets of a global audience

Keep in mind that limiting a post’s audience based on language and location applies to the visibility of the post across all of Facebook. This means that a Facebook fan who falls into the targeted segment will be able to view that post in their News Feed, via Facebook Search and while visiting your Page directly.

LinkedIn audience targeting

LinkedIn has come a long way from being a repository of digital resumes. Today, LinkedIn represents a thriving community of professionals looking to make deeper connections with their peers; it also serves as a robust publishing platform with vast amounts of content.

As the overall LinkedIn community has grown—now, more than 364 million members across 200 countries—it has become increasingly important to ensure that your content reaches the right people at the right time. Publishing targeted updates is an effective way to communicate with your LinkedIn followers in a more relevant and personal way.

From Sprout, LinkedIn targeting can be applied to posts based on the following criteria:

  • Company size
  • Industries
  • Function
  • Seniority
  • Continents
  • Countries
  • State/province
  • Cities
  • Locales
Sprout options for LinkedIn targeting

Applying audience targeting using the criteria outlined above will enable you to segment your LinkedIn followers and deliver content that is tailored specifically to subsets of your overall follower base. For example:

  • Use seniority or job function targeting to share a job posting with relevant candidates.
  • Share regionally specific company news or information about local industry events, using geography and industry targeting.

Bonus: Reach a targeted audience through advocates

There’s no doubt that leveraging audience targeting is an effective way to refine your social media publishing strategy.

That said, it’s certainly not the only way to ensure that your messages are organically reaching the right audience. A carefully crafted employee advocacy program enables you to tap into a unique and powerful targeted community: your employees and their trusted networks. Similar to audience targeting, employee advocacy represents another strategy to reach a highly relevant audience and, when executed effectively, can have a meaningful impact on the overall spread of your brand’s content.

Ready to improve your content targeting?

Test out how social media targeting can boost the reach of your content with a free trial of Sprout Social.



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