Hacking Facebook ads using Google+ Circles

Too often, marketers get caught in the social network wars that users do, neglecting that while a certain social network may not be their favorite to use, there is definitely a marketing advantage to using it.

It’s way too easy to focus on Facebook, and forget that Google+ and Twitter are out there with hundreds of millions of users waiting to hear about your product. As a result, I really try to avoid these biases to ensure I’m taking the best that each network has to offer in my marketing campaigns.

It was with this approach that I discovered a way just yesterday to utilize your Google+ circles to better target your ad campaigns on Facebook, and it’s pretty simple. It involves Google+, Google Contacts, and Custom Audiences within Facebook Power Editor.

Here’s how it works:

Create and Add Google+ Users to Circles

The first step is to identify different segments of users on Google+ you could be targeting. Recently, I spoke at Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit conference and asked them all to share their experiences on Google+ using the hashtag, #SMSS13.

This did 2 things: it got the term to trend (it’s much easier to trend on Google+ than Twitter), and it gave me a way to identify all the Google+ users that were participating in my talk.

From this group of users, we created a shared circle that we also shared with others participating in the conversation so that others could identify who was missing. This now gave me a list I could use on Google+, but guess what? I could also use it through Google Contacts.

Use Google Contacts to Obtain Email Addresses

One of my favorite features of Google+ is its integration with all other Google Products. One of the most powerful of those integrations is Google Contacts. For every circle you create on Google+, it also gives you access to those users’ information in Google Contacts as well.

This means if they’ve made their email address accessible to the people that have circled them, or to the public, their email address will appear in Google Contacts. Now you have an instant email list!

The problem I’ve found with Google Contacts is that for some reason you can’t export the email addresses through their export feature, but you can email everyone in a particular circle. So what I do is select the circle on the left, check all the names in the circle, and then click the little email icon at the top.

This puts all of the names and email addresses in the “To” field in a Gmail compose box. Now all I have to do is copy all those into a text file (on Windows I just use Notepad for this and save as text) and import them into Excel.

Format the Excel File

For this exercise you really only need the email addresses, but you need them each in a separate row. Copying and pasting the names and emails into a text file puts them all on the same line including weird characters and text. What I do is I import the file as csv, and this puts each name and email in a separate column.

Then, if you select all of them in Excel, copy (cut does not work), and then highlight the row below, right click and select “paste special” you can select “transpose” to put them all in a single column.

Now, with a little bit of row-splitting magic (you can Google this, splitting on the “>”), and some find and replace on the miscellaneous “>” and “<” and other characters you see you can get rid of the names column and have a single column full of pure email addresses. Just save this in .csv (comma-separated-value) format and you’re done. Now for the fun part!

Create a Custom Audience in Power Editor

Now you just need to import the file into Power Editor as a custom audience you can now target for future ad campaigns. To do this, go to “Audiences” on the left in Power Editor, select “Create Audience” in the drop-down at the top, and then “Custom Audience”.

Here you can name your audience, and upload the csv file you just created. Facebook will match these emails with users in their database, and now you have a custom, micro-targeted audience you can start using in your ad campaigns! So if I have follow-up material I want to share with those I spoke to, I now get to have an ad waiting for them when they get back to Facebook.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Jesse Stay is author of “Google+ Marketing For Dummies” and “I’m on Facebook–Now What???” He helps large and small businesses understand how to get everyone in the organization participating in the marketing process, and becoming “social embassadors” for the company. You can find more from him at StayNAlive.com, and from his recent webinars.

Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.