What You Need to Know About Facebook’s Latest Updates to Targeting

Joy Cheramie Apr 28, 2022 Joy Cheramie Senior Social Media Specialist Persona The Adventurous and Entertaining Innovator

Last year, Facebook implemented audience targeting restrictions for users under 18. As of March 17, 2022, additional overarching audience targeting policies are in full effect. Here’s a breakdown of these changes and how Carnegie can help you navigate them on the way to meeting your institution’s strategic goals.

What’s Changing?

Starting in January 2022, Meta (Facebook’s parent company) has been removing Detailed Targeting options “referencing causes, organizations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation.” It’s also limiting other Detailed Targeting options that it labels “not widely used, redundant, or too granular.” This update is likely playing a key role in Facebook’s ongoing attempts to button up its privacy policies.

Since these changes to targeting only affect content Facebook deems sensitive, the platform can still associate users’ profiles with certain interest groups for accurate Detailed Targeting. For example, when users “Like” or “Follow” a college sports-related page, Facebook assigns their profiles the interest category of “college sports.” Advertisers like you can then serve ads with content that will resonate with this prospect.

The real challenge comes when we talk religion. Under Facebook’s new rules, how will religious-affiliated colleges reach their target audiences? How will universities successfully promote their religious-based degree programs, certificates in niche industries, or virtual learning environments without interest targeting?

Luckily, Carnegie has the answers. Since Facebook’s initial announcement, we’ve planned several targeting workarounds—which we’ve implemented on behalf of all our clients. See below for a quick explanation of the methods we’re using to keep your Facebook campaigns on track!

What We Can Do About It

Broad targeting, custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and alternative detailed targeting options can all help optimize your institution’s campaign performance on Facebook for prospective students who are 18 and older.

Broad Targeting 

When targeting broadly, you let Facebook’s delivery system decide who sees your ads. It’s not entirely up in the air, though. You can choose from a number of filters—including age range, gender, and location—to narrow your search for prospective students who want to learn more about you and your degree programs.

Custom Audiences

To target users who would likely attend an info session or event, or even complete an application, you can create a Custom Audience using prospective or current student lists, website traffic info, and Facebook engagement data (such as in-platform lead completions). Facebook allows for up to 500 Custom Audiences per ad account, making this a great way of reaching users who already know about your institution.

Lookalike Audiences

To maintain audience relevancy, Facebook generates Lookalike Audiences based on demographic, interest, and behavioral data of a source audience. Implementing lookalike audiences in Facebook allows the platform’s delivery system to build upon its audience reach to serve ads to new users whose interests resemble those of your original target audience.

Alternative Detailed Targeting Options

And, of course, although Facebook has removed a range of targeting options that have historically been widely available to advertisers, Detailed Targeting is still a highly effective advertising strategy that Carnegie continues to utilize! To ensure a smooth transition, Facebook will automatically suggest new audiences that are comparable to your previous targeting parameters that our team will continue to proactively opt into. 

Our team has also found success in targeting feeder schools. Basically, we opt into targeting prospects that have listed a particular high school (or college when targeting transfer students) as their current school of attendance on their Facebook profile. This is another way of using Detailed Targeting to home in on highly relevant prospects!

We’ve Got You Covered

As partners, Carnegie’s social media digital marketing team is an extension of your team. Your goals are our goals. We believe in building long-lasting relationships, earning your trust, and igniting enthusiasm for whatever challenge you face in the higher education industry.

If you’re not currently working with Carnegie, reach out and see how we can help you optimize your campaigns, meet your KPIs, and target the caliber of students you’re looking for on Facebook and beyond!

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