How to reach expats on Facebook
Let me start off by saying that I’m not, by any means, a Facebook advertising expert. The tips and tricks that I’m about to give you, I’ve gathered over the past couple of months while trying to promote my startup, Expack.
Expack is the first subscription box for expatriates living in the Unites States. Every month, users get a box full of the items they miss the most from their home country. (Are shameless plugs allowed on Medium?)
Most subscription boxes rely heavily on Instagram and influencers for their marketing. Unfortunately, this was not an option for us since our user base is older and quite fragmented. By trial and error, we quickly learned that Facebook advertising was the best medium to reach our audience.
Facebook has allowed us to sustain a monthly growth of 20% for the past 9 months. Below is a list of options to find and target expatriates using Facebook ads.
This should always be your go-to target. You can actually type in a country and select “Expats” from the Detailed Targeting drop-down. You can further narrow your target audience by entering their location. Since Expack is currently available in the United States, our targeting looks something like this: Location (United States) + Expats (x Country). We also play around with the age group depending on the country we are targeting.
You might move out of your home country but you never really stop caring about it and its issues. As an ex-expat myself, I know reading my local newspaper online was one of the few things that kept me connected to my roots. Now, as an advertiser, I’ve found that newspapers are a great way to target expatriates.
Again, start with your target’s location and simply type the country’s top newspapers in the Detailed Targeting field.
I’m not a huge sports fan, but most people are. Like the need to stay up-to-date with your home country’s news, the love for your favorite local sports teams does not fade away when you live abroad. You can easily reach expats by targeting local sports teams. This works even better when your product is mainly targeted towards men, although we’ve seen good numbers with women as well.
If there’s one thing all expats have in common is that they like to go back home. You can use local airlines (e.g. Air France, Air Canada, Air Japan) to target expatriates all over the world. The pool of people that you manage to reach using this type of advertising will be more diluted than in the previous two examples. Expatriates like to travel back home using local airlines, but so does the general public.
This one only applies if the language spoken in the location where your product is sold is different from the language of the expat group you are trying to reach. When setting up your campaign and, after selecting your location, you can drill down your audience by language. If your product is for Italians living in Argentina, your targeting will look something like this: Location (Argentina) + Language (Italian). From there you can narrow it even more by inserting some interests or playing around with the age group.
Close friends of expats
Not only can you target expats on Facebook, you can also target their close friends. The option appears as “Close friends of expats” inside the Detailed Targeting field. There’s no way of narrowing it down by specific countries but it’s still a great option to reach people living abroad. Make sure that when using “Close friends of expats” your messaging makes sense (e.g. “Your Colombian friends will love this product.”) You can also include an invitation to tag friends of a certain nationality.
Proud to be “X”
There are countless groups dedicated to national pride on Facebook. Once you type in “Proud to be Brazilian” inside the Detailed Targeting field, you will automatically get an extensive list of groups that can be used to target people that are proud to be from that specific country. This method is the one that yields the least amount of potential targets, but it is also the most accurate. I’m pretty sure there’s not a lot of Puerto Ricans that are proud to be Filipino and vice versa.
There’s not a lot of information online about how to target expats on Facebook. Trust me, I’ve searched. I hope this information is helpful and if there’s any other tip you have, please be kind and share ;)