Facebook and User Targeted Content

“Social media has completely shifted the entire paradigm of advertisement in general. Advertising is commonly defined as ‘paid, one-way promotional communication in any mass media.’” However, with social media, this definition no longer captures advertising because of the new ways in which companies can target users.(Faulds and Mangold) For example, the avenues in which social media allow for companies to set up consumers to advertise their product to other consumers are a big factor. Companies can use blogs, networking tools and other promotional tools on Facebook, tumblr, and Twitter to set up a space where consumers can do the advertising to other consumers they want to attract for them. Thus, the advertising is no longer this one-way promotional street anymore, it has been expanded to a road of networks in which all of them lead to a different consumer. This has expanded the possible reach of each advertisement as well as the diversity of consumers reached by each ad. Social media has become a “hybrid form of advertising,” because of the way it both allows companies to talk to their customers as well as allows their customers talk to other customers. (Faulds and Mangold)

Social media has completely changed the advertising game for companies, as the consumer targeting start time has changed to well before consumers search for anything. Also, consumer targeting reach has increased significantly because of the litany of different factors that companies are allowed to observe through everyone’s social media network now. (Ganguly)

The ways in which companies and even other consumers can target any/every user make for a game changer in user targeted content on social media and especially Facebook. Facebook can target users based on their name, age, sex, friends sex, recent purchases, and race. The ability to not just observe recent purchasing behavior on Facebook but also other websites as well make it easy for companies/users to target people heavily based off of their interests and behaviors. The specific ways in which people can be targeted range from recent life events — in which Facebook seemingly has any possible life event outlined available for each user profile — to custom audiences and their lookalikes, or people with interests and recent purchasing behaviors similar to the custom audiences you already targeted. On top of that, advertisers can layer each of the various components of user targeting on top of each other in order to create an almost scarily specific method of user targeting. (Kim) This highly precise method of targeting can lead to users/companies even singling out a single person to present their advertisement to if deemed necessary. The setup can be manipulated by behavior, name, age, sex, etc. to the point where a hilarious prank like this is possible. One roommate with knowledge of how to use the user targeted ads pinpointed everything precisely to show his roommate very oddly specific ads that eventually made for a funny prank amongst buddies.


This however has created a paradox for companies on Facebook. Users either feel they’re seeing too many irrelevant ads and that they’re annoying if the ads aren’t specific enough, or users feel their privacy is being intruding upon if the ads are too specific. The thin line between irrelevant and intrusive in the user targeted content game is a line users and companies alike have to walk when trying to use this method of targeting in order to increase their audience reach and clicks. It can seem like a lose-lose situation for those who want to jump into the user targeted content game as users complain about seeing both irrelevant ads and relevant ads. (Lafferty)


Ganguly, Sonny. “Why Social Media Advertising Is Set To Explode In The Next 3 Years.” Marketing Land. N.p., 2015. Web.

Kim, Larry. “5 Ridiculously Powerful Facebook Ad Targeting Strategies.” Wordstream. 2015. Web

Lafferty, Justin. “For Facebook Ads, How Targeted Is Too Targeted?” Social Times. Facebook. 2013. Web

Mangold, W. Glynn, and David J. Faulds. “Social Media: The New Hybrid Element of the Promotion Mix.” Research Gate (n.d.): n. pag. Indiana University. Web. July 2009.

Tuten, Tracy L. Advertising 2.0: Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 World. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. Print.

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