Last December, Facebook announced that it would no longer allow advertisers to use certain self-submitted fields to target ads. What does that mean for us? Well, since the fields included information such as job title and various preferences (religious, political, and others), the change has created hurdles for advertisers who target audiences with relevant content.

Facebook deemed the move necessary after manipulation of those form fields during the 2016 Presidential Election, as well as instances of advertisers serving discriminatory ads for housing, employment and credit/financial services. Advertisers like us, who have long used the fields strategically (and ethically) to serve content that resonates with audiences, have had to think fast to adjust to this new normal.

As an agency that runs a lot of account-based marketing programs for B2B clients, 90octane especially benefited from the self-submitted fields for job title and employer. In addition, our paid social programs relied heavily on LinkedIn and Facebook to find qualified users based on where they work, what they do and their level of seniority in their organizations. Although LinkedIn provides more credible B2B segments, Facebook reaches a larger audience more efficiently and through more effective ad formats that are optimized toward driving action on-site.

Following the new Facebook policy, here are three valuable strategies we’ve put into practice:

1) Mix It Up

Our first inclination was to immediately shift more budget into LinkedIn, as we knew those fields were available and reliable for reaching the right audience. But in many cases, this increases costs because it’s more expensive to serve ads on LinkedIn than on Facebook, especially in regions outside the U.S. We’ve had to work closely with our clients to set expectations for programs, knowing we’d have to pay a higher cost to reach this audience on LinkedIn.

2) Re-Strategize

Another approach was to re-think the way we look at our target audience. During our campaign discovery process, we develop personas that match our target audience based on a number of demographics, interests and behaviors. While it may be easier to find decision-makers based on their job titles and employers, other fields can also indicate prospect intent. One example is targeting by a behavior such as following a Facebook group dedicated to learning a specific web application. This method requires an added layer of effort and creativity to find your audience by understanding who they are and how they behave at a deeper level. We can also leverage existing customer lists and generate lookalike audiences in order to find similar users based on their social activity.

3) Research & Leverage

As an integrated marketing agency, we have close relationships with vendors, not only at Facebook, but with other data partners, as well. Since this update, we’ve worked closely with our partners to understand the new limitations and establish new capabilities to circumvent the removal of self-submitted fields. We’ve also worked with third-party data partners, such as Bombora, to create B2B audiences and have them imported into Facebook. Although this requires a data cost, it allows us to continue to leverage Facebook’s efficient platform with a qualified audience at scale.

Questions? Contact us.

While it may be easier to find decision-makers based on their job titles and employers, other fields can also indicate prospect intent.

About the Author

Courtney Shaw

Social Media Strategist

Courtney is a social media wizard who uses data to create and optimize client campaigns. She works on B2B programs, tackling objectives including demand generation and account-based marketing. When she isn’t mastering full-funnel social media programs, you can find this Chipotle enthusiast on the dance floor.