Why & How to Target a Competitor’s Audience on Facebook

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If you’re building a Facebook fan base from the bottom up, figuring out where to start isn’t easy. That’s why learning how to target a competitor’s audience on Facebook makes sense. But if you were hoping Facebook would provide you with a list of competitor’s fans to target organic content and ads to, you’re out of luck.

If only it were that simple…. 

Directly targeting a competitor’s audience isn’t possible through Facebook because of increasingly strict privacy policies. But that doesn’t mean you can’t target them at all. Instead, you’ll just have to work a little harder.

That means using metadata that Facebook makes available about your competitor’s audience, including interests, demographics, and locations. Or you can spend time searching for and mining engagement and profile data from their Pages.

Before we jump into how to target fans of other pages on Facebook, let’s look at why you would want to do it in the first place.

Why Target a Competitor's Audience on Facebook?

Any organic social media marketing or paid ad campaign is only as good as your target audience. If you focus on the wrong people, you’ll waste time and money on a campaign that delivers poor engagement and few conversions. On the flip side, targeting the right audience with great content that matches their interests will help you do the following:

So, it’s worth using the most accurate data available.

That’s where Facebook’s algorithms come in. They are sophisticated and can accurately target account holders most likely to engage with your content. Not only that, but they are also good at identifying micro audiences. With the second-highest ROI (after Instagram), Facebook is excellent at helping you find audiences that are likely to convert. 

Here’s the thing: Facebook’s targeting becomes more effective when you’ve accumulated a large base of followers. As a result, until you have a fan base to build on, its recommendations will be overly broad and unfocused.

But you need to start somewhere, and this is where your competitors’ fan base can help you. When you know how to target a competitor’s audience on Facebook—a competitor that sells similar products to yours—you’ll have a ready-made list of potential customers with proven interest to target. And you’ll be able to build an audience of your own. Like a snowball, once you’ve started with your core audience, you’ll quickly accumulate new followers to reach and engage.

Ultimately, by figuring out how to target a competitor’s audience on Facebook, your campaigns will be more cost-effective and deliver far higher returns.

“You should target a competitor’s audience because these are people that already have an active interest in the product/service you’re offering. The hardest part about targeting their audiences is convincing them you’re the better solution. To do this, you need great messaging that speaks to their pain points, wants, and needs. If you can solve (or speak to) those issues better than your competitor, then there is huge potential to convert customers from their audience.”

How to Target Fans of Other Pages on Facebook

Team members looking at laptop screen and reviewing data insights.

Ideally, you could target the fans from your competitor’s Facebook Page directly using data analytics tools. But Facebook’s privacy policies won’t let you do that. So, you’ll have to use attributes such as interests instead.

If you’re ready to learn how to target a competitor’s audience on Facebook, follow the steps below.

1) Define Your Audience

Before looking for suitable competitors to target, you’ll need to define your target audience and create an ideal customer profile or avatar based on those you want to reach. This will help you identify the most relevant competitors with similar target audiences. Plus, it’s essential that you know your ideal customer to convince them that you offer better solutions than your competitors.

If you have an established audience, you can use the free Audience Insights tool with the Meta Business Suite to discover who’s looking at your Facebook Page. You’ll also get insights from engagement data into the type of content they like.

If you don’t have a substantial following, you’ll find it much harder to define your target audience. Thankfully, this will get easier, and you’ll be able to refine your avatar the more you research your competitor.

2) Find Your Competitors' Pages 

Once you know your ideal audience, and assuming you have an idea of what your competitors look like, you can move on to find the most relevant competitors’ Facebook Pages. Here are some options you can try and see what works best for you:

Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads

3) Discover Your Competitors’ Fans

Now that you’ve curated a shortlist of businesses that closely match yours, it is time to discover their fans. After all, you have to know who you plan to target. So, use the tactics below to learn how to target a competitor’s audience on Facebook.

Use Potential Audience Insights

You can visit the Potential Audience page in Meta Business Suite’s Audience Insights to glean competitive intelligence from businesses with Facebook accounts. And that includes your direct competitors and their fans.

The trick is to select the most relevant data for your audience. To do so, use the filter in the top right corner to select categories of characteristics that best describe your target audience, including the following:

Screenshot of Potential Audience Insights in Meta Business Suite.

You’ll get at-a-glance graphs that break down your chosen characteristics and information, such as estimates of the potential audience size. You can use what you learn for further research and define your audiences.

You’ll also see a clickable list of the most common interests of the potential audience, along with businesses that match up. If any of your competitors appear on the list, you can click the links to visit their Page for further research.

Research Individual Pages

Here’s another way to target a competitor’s audience on Facebook, but it’s not for the fainthearted…

You can glean the most accurate and detailed audience information by visiting and analyzing the Facebook Pages belonging to your competitor’s fans. But that means you’ll need to trawl hundreds of Facebook Pages to build an accurate profile. It’s a time-consuming task—no question. On the upside, you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to select the most promising leads to target.

Start by Liking and Following the pages to receive Facebook’s recommendations for Friends and suggested Related Pages you might want to visit. 

There are multiple sources of helpful information within a Facebook Page to help you find and analyze a competitor’s audience, including checking the following:

This is also an opportunity to look at the competitor’s content to identify additional topics about interests and popular products. You can discover what content engages your competitor’s audience, helping you craft organic content and ads that resonate with your fans.

Use Ads Manager to Target Ads at Fans of Other Facebook Pages

The last approach is the most straightforward way to target fans of other pages on Facebook with ads. Once you’ve created your ads, you can target them to fans of your competitor’s pages using Ads Manager in the Meta Business Suite. Rather than targeting them directly, you do this by creating audience segments from the aggregated audience data collected from your competitor’s Pages. 

Go to the Ad Set Page in your Ads Manager. Look for Detailed Targeting in the Audience section. 

Type in the name of your competitor or their website address. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the potential reach, the number of fans, average daily reach, and landing page views for that organization. You can further segment the audience based on interests, behaviors, demographics, location, etc. But that only works for organizations with substantial followings, such as large corporations or famous people.

Screenshot of Detailed Targeting in Ads Manager of Meta Business Suite, targeting fans of Nike’s page.

For most competitors, you’ll have to try browsing or searching different keywords in the Detailed Targeting window. Use those you’ve discovered through your research that best define your competitor and their products and audience. 

This search will be broader and potentially less accurate, but with Facebook’s privacy policies, this may be the best you can hope for. 

You could choose just one category and use Meta’s automated ad delivery. Still, depending on the size of the reach, you may end up with an overly large and general audience that is hard to make an impression or engagement.

So, to target your ads more accurately, it’s better to narrow your audience. To do that, you should add more than just one defining characteristic from the following criteria to define your competitor’s audience better. You can try using different combinations until you’re satisfied with the result.

You can also use the above categories to exclude fans you don’t want to include in your sample audience. 

4) Create Ads That Resonate

The previous steps cover the more technical aspects of how to target a competitor’s audience on Facebook, but your work isn’t done there. The last step is to create ads that resonate with those the competitor is targeting.

Whether you’re creating an Instant Experience ad or a conventional ad, your content must be on point. The way you present your offering determines whether you can pull customers away from your competition. To convince them you’re a better option, you need great content that speaks to their needs.

So, use the research you gathered on your target audience. Apply it to your ad copy to pique your potential customers’ curiosity and drive the click. Every ad you create should do the following:

IMPORTANT: Don’t neglect the other aspects of the ad experience either. The visual element—a video, graphic, or carousel—should be just as appealing. On top of that, the landing page you direct them to should fit their expectations.

Takeaway

For most marketers, knowing how to target a competitor's Facebook audience is not about reaching out to fans directly. It is more to do with using the social media platform's aggregated data and algorithms to get your organic content and ads into their live feeds. 

That doesn't mean you can't create your own list of your competitors' fans on Facebook. Creating that list takes long and painstaking research, though. 

But if you take that route and do it right, you will be rewarded with more accurate audience profiles that funnel more of your competitor's fans your Facebook Page.
If you need advice on how to launch an effective Facebook ads campaign, our free guide will walk you through 6 easy steps you need to know. Download The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads today!

 


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Filed Under: Advertising, Social Media

About Jon Maday

Jon recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a degree in marketing and economics. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and loves his Chicago sports teams. Jon found his passion for marketing while in college and decided to pursue a career in the digital side of marketing. He is an eager learner and started with Viral Solutions as an intern before accepting a position upon graduation. Outside of work, Jon enjoys hanging out with friends and watching sporting events.