Four Powerful Facebook Targeting Methods You NEED To Use

How Do I Get More Potential Customers to Know My Business Exists?

This is the question every business owner asks. The answer has usually been to spend money on advertisements, whether on radio, television, and print. Each advertisement is carefully thought out, not just in what to put in the ad, but also where the ads are placed. Having a general idea of who your target audience is and where they come together or what they watch all play into advertisements.

But you already knew that.

Let’s face it – unless you have millions of numbers and “big data” to play with, you have to guess who and where your most qualified potential customers are.

Facebook Target Methods for Hotels
But now you don’t have to guess anymore!

With targeting on social media (specifically Facebook), marketers are now able to find users by behavior, interest and other information users supply themselves. Anything that is posted on Facebook is a targeting option: Age, current location, relationship type, income, favorite sports team, and probably the most valuable for hotel and hospitality businesses, travel type and “intender travel location.” This and numerous other targeting options are available in Facebook. Here are the four all hotels need to test right away.


When users sign up for a Facebook account, their profile is fleshed out with different types of information, such as date of birth, current residence, career title, favorite TV shows, favorite movies, favorite anything. While these bits of interests are manually typed in, other behavior segmentation options include topics and links that users share via their Facebook activity and cookies. These are collected through Facebook’s database of status updates, shares, and anything and everything recorded on the site. These data points are available for marketers to build much more targeted ads to specific users! That means if Facebook is tracking it, you can use it. To better explain it, here’s a hypothetical scenario.

A hotel in Cancun, Mexico knows that 75% of their customers come from the US. More than 50% of the United States visitors come from East coast states like New York and Maryland. They consist of a wide range of people and groups, including families with young and teenage children, young couples celebrating their honeymoon, and elderly couples celebrating retirement or anniversary. Each customer group enjoys different activities, many of which the hotel provides or has specials/deals with neighboring vendors. The hotel’s Facebook page has a steady following, but the number of likes and comments on a post do not necessarily correlate to new customers or revenue (since the majority of all their Facebook followers/fans are previous customers).

Already, with the hotel’s brief target audience description, there are multiple segments we can identify. Let’s start with US families who have children. Facebook allows marketers to target by location and family type. Since the east coast is a big feeder market for this hotel, we can easily target an ad that is shown to users who live in that area. Facebook’s target locations include countries, states, cities, and ZIP codes.

Excluding locations is also an option. For families with children (both young and old), FB offers a demographic target properly titled “Parents,” which can then be segmented out by “All Parents” or just “Moms.” This is further segmented with different options by age of children, type of mother (big-city, corporate, fit, etc), and so on. If the hotel knows its target audience intimately, they can continue to segment down to an extremely focused group with a very specific message.

So, we have segmented two aspects of our audience: users who are parents and their current residency.

advanced facebook targeting for hotels

At the time of this build (March 10th, 2015), Facebook estimates that the reach for this particular audience is close to 4 million users. A very large audience that would be perfect for a user with a large budget. However, we are not looking to use a wide net for the sake of large numbers. The point of segmentation is to find a very specific audience that will react favorably to a relevant ad. Let’s see if we can get that number down to a more targeted audience.

Facebook tracks a limited number of “Intender” users. An intender is someone who shows interest in traveling to a certain location. Luckily for this hotel, Mexico is one of the locations Facebook tracks as an intender. This is found in Behaviors > Travel > Planning to travel > Intender – Mexico. Once added into the equation, the potential reach drops tremendously to an estimated “less than 1000″ reach:

reach targeted advertising on facebook for hotels


This is far too small, and it shows that users from these locations with these traits do not explicitly show interest in traveling to Mexico on Facebook. Playing around with this tool to find a reasonable audience size and budget is a constant tinkering project, and should always be explored daily due to Facebook’s updates of new segmentation options.

Lookalike Audience

If you have an email list full of past customers or email subscribers, you can upload them into Facebook’s custom audience creation tool. The results will help Facebook expand your audience by matching your list with actual Facebook account emails. With those matches, Facebook will create a look-a-like audience of users who interact with the web and enjoy the same interests as the list.

1. Click on “Audiences” in Ad Manager’s left hand navigation menu.

ad manager on facebook for hotels

2. Click “Create Audience” in the upper right hand corner.

create an audience in facebook for hotel advertising

3. Select “Custom Audience” and then select “Customer List.”

4. The next screen will ask you how you would like to add customers to the audience. If you have a list of phone numbers, you can also create a custom audience list with those as well.

5. Once the list has been uploaded, click “Create Audience” again. Then, select “Lookalike Audience.”

6. From this screen, choose your recently created custom audience as the source and the country that you’d like to target.

lookalike advertising on facebook for hotels

Within a couple of minutes, you’ve essentially created two audiences:

  • One with your current subscribers or customers,
  • And one with your desired audience to target.hotel advertising to a segmented target audience on facebook


    Retargeting previous website visitors is always a good idea, and Facebook allows you to set up a custom audience tracking pixel for your marketing pleasure. It works a lot like other retargeting tools, so if you or a developer are familiar with them, this setup is not that painful.

    1. Click the “Create Audience” button, click “Custom Audience” and then select “Website Traffic.”

    remarking on facebook for hotels

    2. Follow the instructions on the next screen. If you haven’t done so already, insert the pixel code onto your site. The directions for this can be found by clicking on the cog in the lower left corner.

    create remarketing ads on facebook for hotels

    From here, you can remarket to previous site visitors. Get creative with your Facebook targeting, such as making ads specifically for visitors who viewed a certain deal page but did not result in a transaction.


    Facebook targeting and data can be molded in dynamic ways. Let’s go back to the “Intender” audience, where users show interest in traveling to a certain location. From our previous example, we saw that the Intender – Mexico audience brought down our potential audience below one thousand viewers. If we just took this information as is, then we would move on to the next test audience. However, we can combine other targeting options to craft an audience that looks similar to the “Intender” group through other options.

    Instead of relying on Facebook’s algorithm of deciding who belongs in the Intender audience, we can craft one ourselves. Simply target users who are interested in Mexico (by typing it in the Interest box) and then select your desired travel type in the Behaviors category. It should look something like this:

    social media advertising on facebook for hotels

    From this view, we can see that users who are interested in Mexico and Mexican related subjects, and have behavior data that implies they are frequent travelers, has a very large but defined audience. HOORAY!!!

    We hope these four targeting options from Facebook encourage you to give your hotel a try on the powerful marketing tool.

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David Yi

David Yi is a Google Adwords certified paid marketing specialist at Valet Interactive with over 5 years of experience in internet marketing. He enjoys teaching business owners about internet marketing and how it can positively affect their business.