How to snipe just one person’s News Feed with Facebook ads

Have you tried to target a user based on their workplace? Facebook ads allow you to hit a user’s newsfeed based on their employer. This allows you to get the attention of influential people. What do you do if they don’t show up?

Custom Audiences is how to reach your intended audience with precision. You can upload lists of emails, phone numbers, UserIDs, and App User IDs to be used to target as few as a single person with precision. However, keep in mind that Facebook’s terms of service requires custom audiences to opt in, so play by the rules or put on your gray hat and cross your fingers.

If you can’t find your target’s email address, you can try common email formats such as or first initial then last name at company ( Test with a few of these, and/or look for an example by browsing contact information on the company website, or by collecting business cards at your next conference.

If you know your target’s Facebook URL, You can use their User ID as a target. Grab it by using Facebook Graph. For example, If you wanted to target the president of InfusionSoft, Clate Mask, who’s Facebook URL is Clate.mask.5, You would grab the ID from

Once your list is ready, Go to the Advanced Options tab and enter the custom audience label. You can also use such lists as a negative audience in the Excluded Audiences field.

Keep your campaign budget low and on a schedule, since you’re trying to reach a select few. $5-10 a day for a week should be enough.

If your custom audience fails, see if the company is targetable as an interest – for example, Infusionsoft is not a targetable workplace, but it is a targetable interest:

Search for the workplace headquarters’ location, and hit the city it is based in. Infusionsoft is in Chandler, AZ:

Research how many people work at the company. If estimated reach is too low, you can use the “Include cities within _ Miles” box to increase it. Use the average commuting distance, since not everyone lives where they work. Look up your targets social profiles to check if they’re within radius.

Test success by segmenting the campaign. Search for information on social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Each segment should target their gender, age range, or college degree.

Research niche interests such as their favorite sports team or main hobby, making sure to tighten the reach as much as you can.  Users often have these interests listed publicly- Check the left side of their profile for likes:

However, Clate’s profile is private, so targeting would be a shot in the dark if you didn’t know him personally. Dig on social channels for hints:

If using a business as an interest, researching the ratio of fans to employees in the area using Power Editor lets you know how precise to be. Infusionsoft has around 300-500 employees to the total of 9,200 estimated likes nationwide, so 30.6 fans per employee. 25 miles around Chandler, AZ, there are 660 fans, so 2.2 fans for every employee (assuming only 300 employees).

Using Partner categories helps further refine your targeting:

To recap, Custom audiences allow you to target users by:

  • Email addresses
  • Facebook UIDs / App IDs
  • Phone Numbers

The default choice should always be opted-in emails, abiding by Facebook’s TOS.

You can also supply lists of User IDs that you can acquire using, or apps.

Lastly, Use phone numbers from business cards and other sources.

If Custom audiences fail to reach your target, try:

  1. Narrowing down by city and outlying areas.
  2. Tightening the age range.
  3. Researching hobbies / activities, using them as a precise interest.
  4. Workplace targeting. If unavailable, use the workplace as a precise interest.
  5. Partner categories, using it to further refine demographic info.

Readers, Do you have any tips to reach precise people with ads? Any success stories from these tips?

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.