Determine the right audience size by using friend-of-fan targeting

We previously talked about using exclusion targeting to refine your campaigns, now let’s delve into how to find the right size for your audience.


This technique is not exactly a negative filter, but one of my favorite tactics when choosing audiences is to use friend of fan targeting.


Let’s say that this audience of 68,000 is too big for my budget.


Precise Interest


By the way, the rule of thumb on how big your audience targets should be is this: take your daily budget in pennies and multiply by 2 to get your daily audience size.  So if you have a $10 daily budget, then you have about 2,000 people you can reach each day.


Assuming you’re managing 10 ads at any one time, then you can have a reach of 200 people in each, giving you a total reach of 2,000.


And since half of Facebook users log-in each day, you could go for an audience of 400 people, which gives you a net 200 people each day.


This audience of 68,000 gives us an effective reach of 34,000 (since half of folks log in each day). And at our average newsfeed CPM of $5 (the pennies x 2 trick above), it would cost us $5 x 34 to reach them daily, which is $170.


But in my example, I have only $10 a day.


So I want to hit a more precise audience. And now I’ll use friend-of-fan targeting to filter it down a bit.


Estimated Reach


I’ve now got 16,800, which is slightly on the high side.


Some people will say that there’s no downside to targeting an audience that is more than you have dollars to reach.


To which I say– why waste money unless it’s not yours?  By adding in the connection target, I’m showing ads to people who have friends that are fans of BlitzMetrics.


All else equal, people who are fans of Mari Smith AND have a friend who is a fan, too, will be more motivated to click than those who don’t have a friend’s endorsement.




What should ultimately be governing my budget is profitability.  If I’m making money on margin, then I should keep expanding until my margin cost is equal to my marginal revenue. That’s first semester economics for you!


I like to use FOF (friend-of-fan) targeting in nearly every ad.  Having the magic combination of social trust as well as topical relevance (they’re interested in what I have to offer) is what drives conversion.


The only times I break this rule are:
  • When the client just wants a lot of fans– quantity over quality.
  • The audience is so small that the FOF filter makes it too small.
  • I’m trying to manipulate the media— when I workplace targeting, the goal is to get the impression, not necessarily a click. The audiences are usually quite small, except for those targeting Facebook as a workplace (too many users listing this).
Hope this helps you in your targeting escapades!


Let us know how this works for you.


Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is the Chief Executive Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis’s program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.

He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit. Dennis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, CNN, Fox News, and CBS Evening News.

He’s a regular contributor for Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has published in Social Media Examiner, Social Media Club, Tweak Your Biz, B2C, Social Fresh, and Heyo. He held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines and studied Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University as well as the London School of Economics. He ran collegiate cross-country at SMU and has competed in over 20 marathons including a 70-mile ultramarathon.

Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you.

You can contact him at