How and Why to Use Facebook’s Engagement Custom Audience Targeting Feature

By Jacob Dayan  

Facebook’s audience data and targeting tactics for advertisers are the platform’s biggest moneymakers. For years, the social media platform has given advertisers great ways to expand their reach, allowing brands to build audiences based on user data, page likes, website activity and CRM uploads.

The social media juggernaut continues to refine its targeting features, and last year the company rolled out Engagement Custom Audiences. With this functionality, advertisers can seek out people who have engaged with your Facebook content in the past. This gives you the opportunity to target the audience most interested in or familiar with your brand.

The opportunities don’t stop there; you can layer on inclusions and exclusions, and build lookalike audiences using engagement data to make the most of this feature.

The more your audience engages with your content, the more impactful your advertising will be. Let’s delve into the ways Facebook’s best Custom Audience option can support your marketing goals.

Why Use Engagement Custom Audiences?

When it comes to social media advertising, engagement is critical. Engagement can come in many forms, from audience likes on your updates to comments on your posts.

The Engagement Custom Audience feature allows you to redirect your advertising efforts toward users who’ve engaged with your Facebook content in the past. These users are more likely to convert when presented a direct response ad than a user who simply happens to match the characteristics of your typical customer.

Building your audience with this targeting feature is easier than creating a Facebook Pixel audience, as users can become part of your engagement audience without leaving the social media site, and no messing around with your website code is required.

How to Create an Engagement Custom Audience

Once you’re logged into Facebook Ads Manager, select the “Create Audience” tab under Assets > Audiences, then choose “Custom Audience”.

You’ll be prompted to choose between four Custom Audience Types: Customer File, Website Traffic, App Activity, and Engagement. Select the latter.

You can now view six different engagement types. As you can tell from Facebook’s annotations, these options are constantly being updated and improved. We’ll explore the Facebook Page setup in more detail later.

The six types of engagement include:

  1. Video – This will target users who have watched at least one or more specific videos you select. You can tailor this to target users that have watched a certain durations or percentages of your video(s), as well.
  2. Lead form – For users who have opened a lead form, opened a lead form but didn’t submit, or submitted a Facebook lead form.
  3. Fullscreen Experience – Facebook has segregated targeting of users who have engaged with two specific ad types, Canvas and Collection.
  4. Facebook Page – This targets users who have previously engaged with your page, ads or posts.
  5. Instagram Business Profile – This is Facebook’s newest engagement type, and targets users that have interacted with your Instagram business profile.
  6. Event – For users who have engaged with an event you have posted, a strong signal of intent.

All six engagement types have similar filtering options with the exception of date ranges. Lead form targeting is limited to the last 90 days while the other options allow a date range between 1 and 365 days.

This is the window displayed when you select the Facebook Page engagement type.


You can select from five different options, which include: engagement with the page itself, ads and posts, call to action (CTA) buttons, page or post saves, and Facebook Messenger. Unlike the video engagement targeting structure, you cannot target page engagement to one or more specific posts or ads.


Making the Most of Engagement Custom Audiences

With the abovementioned knowledge in your arsenal, you can capitalize on Facebook’s most accurate custom audience targeting feature to date.

If you want to make the most of your efforts, use the following strategies to amplify your advertising power:

  • Exclusions – Excluding users can help you decrease campaign costs and improve your conversion rates. For example, if you’re promoting a particular opt-in form, you want to avoid targeting users already entered in your mailing list. If you’re advertising a particular product, exclude customers who’ve already purchased it.
  • Date Ranges – Users that have interacted with you more recently are ideal prospects. By setting a narrow range, you target customers for whom your brand may already be top of mind. Someone who followed your page 20 days ago is a better prospect than a user who liked a post 10 months ago. Something to keep in mind when using this feature: every day sees new users added, but the oldest users simultaneously drop off your list.
  • Narrower Targeting – When creating your ad campaign, you can set additional targeting options at the ad set level. For example, you may choose to target specific locations, behaviors, or interests that correspond to your target customer’s demographics. You can also combine this custom audience with particular page connections.

Sustaining Momentum

With so many targeting options, you may find your audience has become too small to produce any measurable results. If your ads aren’t performing, or you find that you’re exhausting your Custom Audience, consider one of these tactics:

  • Combining Audiences – You can combine audiences at the ad set level, for example, Facebook Page engagement with Instagram Business Profile engagement. It’s possible these would have considerable overlap, but it also might be a way to find very different users.
  • More Content – Redouble your effort to produce high-quality, unique content for users to engage with on Facebook. Video content offers fantastic opportunity for quick engagement. You can also pay to boost your Facebook content, including video, to accelerate engagement and audience expansion.
  • Similar Users – Take advantage of Facebook’s lookalike functionality and target a subset of Facebook’s total user base most similar to your Engagement Custom Audience. This feature offers greater accuracy than you would get attempting to use Facebook’s demographic, interest and behavior data to find these same users. Remember: the smaller the lookalike percentage (1% = 2.1 million users), the more likely your audience is to resemble your target customer.

Put Your New Knowledge to Good Use

If digital marketing is a crucial piece of your business strategy, you understand the importance of reaching mid-funnel prospects. With Custom Engagement Audiences, you can build a list of Facebook followers that are familiar with your brand, services or products.

Once you’ve built your base audience, you can further refine your advertising efforts through inclusions, exclusions, and even Facebook connections. A consumer that encounters your ad after passing through these filters would be more likely to convert.

If you use Facebook to advertise, consider testing Engagement Custom Audiences and watch your conversion rates increase. This feature is powerful and easy to use, making it a low-risk and potentially high-return investment.

About the Author: Jacob Dayan is CEO and co-founder of Chicago-based Community Tax, a U.S. provider of tax resolution, tax preparation, bookkeeping and accounting services. Jacob previously worked on Wall Street as an options analyst and as a foreign exchange trader. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.



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