How to Use Facebook Ad Targeting to Make Money

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As an affiliate, a business owner or even a blogger, Facebook ads is a channel you do not want to ignore. It might not convert as well as Google adwords since you’re not showing ads during the research and shopping process, and their algorithm may not show you as well organically as it used to; but to make up for it the Facebook ad network is dirt cheap and can help you to drive sales, build a following and a loyal group of fans.

For this post I’m going to pretend to be an affiliate for my client SmugMug and show you 5 ways that I would run, target and track the effectiveness of my Facebook ads.  It isn’t the full strategy, but it is more than enough to get you going.

Feel free to use this for your own SmugMug affiliate campaigns as well as tweak it to grow your following, customer base and business. If you’d like to try it in the SmugMug affiliate program, I’m always happy to have a skype call and we can work on building campaigns together.  If you aren’t a SmugMug affiliate, click here to sign up now.

photo website builder affiliate programs
By @Violin / purchased from

The first step is to log into your affiliate account on ShareaSale and get your SmugMug affiliate links.  (You can use direct links if you’re a retail shop or blogger).  The trick here is to make sure you use the &afftrack=(insertnameofyourcampaignhere) to differentiate which campaign and ad variation you used.  The afftrack parameter will show up in your transaction details report and let you know how many conversions you have for each campaign and specific ad.  I’ve added it in the screen shot below.

(side note: You can export the afftrack parameter and sort it in excel from the transactions report to let you know exactly what is performing and can then further optimize your campaigns based on what is profitable.) 

Now that you have your link and unique afftrack parameters set, it’s time to build your campaigns.  I have notes under some of the images to help you change the targeting or the goals if you want to build likes, fans or if you’re an ecommerce store.

add a tracking paramater to a share a sale link

A Step By Step Guide to Make Money on Facebook as an Affiliate

Select the Type of Campaign

setting up your campaign goal in facebook

First you want to select send people to your website.  Because you’re trying to generate clicks through your ad, so you can set your cookie and track the sale, promoting your page, boosting posts, etc… are irrelevant.  You could try increasing conversions on your website, but to make that work better you’d need to have a pixel in the merchant’s shopping cart and that probably won’t happen.  That’s why you want to select “Send people to your website”.

If you want to try increasing likes with a relevant audience, using the promote your page option.  You can try to create relevant audience targets using some of the targeting selections below.

Start Targeting Your Audience

how to target your facebook ads

First start by selecting the areas you want to target.  For SmugMug you may want to choose areas that have gorgeous scenery, larger interests with photography and you can try testing these groups by locations.  This is available in many free databases.  The trick is finding an accurate one, but that can be done.  Above you’ll see I chose a state, a city and a zipcode.  Depending on how much you want to target or what types of areas, Facebook offers you almost every option you could imagine.

Next I selected the age group 28 and up.  The reason I started at 28 is because the ads I would be running aren’t geared towards college students or younger people.  Instead I want people moving into their professional careers who may have a job, may be taking their business online and probably have more disposable income.  If I would target college students, I would use different imaging, wording and make it about their classes, earning more by selling prints to help pay for tuition and other selling points relevant to someone in college.  I’d also change the target age range to college age people as well and you can also select that the person is in college and at what level college in the demographics section.

The last thing in this screen shot is languages.  Normally I’d select English US, but because SmugMug is good for each version of English, I’m leaving it blank.  If you were going after British Expats in the US, you could target with language and use this.  The trick here is to remember to try different variations of Spanish and almost any other language that Facebook offers.

Remember your ad copy and landing page should reflect the version of the language.  The more you can make the person feel like it is for them, the more you may be able to get them to click and shop.

Job Title

Targeting an audience by job title is one of the best starting places with Facebook ads manager.  If the store, product or service is mainly used by a specific professional or career, using job titles or the level of profession (manager, director, assistant, etc…) is a great way to reach them.  You can find job titles as well as income (for US only) under the Demographics tab.

how to target by job title using facebook ads


Maybe you want a larger audience or you want to narrow your job title targets down further.  Maybe you want Directors that make over 100K and also have a hobby relevant to your product or service.  By searching the interests section for specific interests or hobbies like photography, wedding photography, portrait photography, digital photography, natural light photography, animal photography, etc… you can further target your ads to your specific audiences interests.

If they’re interested in wedding photography, show a wedding photographer, a crazy bride or other funny things.

how to choose relevant interests using facebook ads

Cameras, Lenses and Brands

Suppose you are using your personal brand as the sponsored ad source and you only use Fuji, Cannon or Nikon cameras.  Why not select your favorite brand or choose specific types of cameras and lenses that are relevant to you.  By going after types of lenses and specific models you can help to ensure you’re reaching photographers and people who shoot for a hobby and can be directly relevant to your other content.  As you run the ads from your personal or company FanPage, they’ll also gain exposure to your page, be able to like it and find your other content.

By having relevant people who use the same products as you, you may be able to build your audience and fan base as well as drive affiliate sales.

how to target facebook ads based on products and interests

Photographers and Celebrity Photographers

One target that can sometimes work is targeting people who like the icons within their niche.  By combining job titles, interests and icons within a field or niche, you may be able to better target your audience better.

A fun thing to possibly try is using specific terms or variations of quotes from the celebrity you’re using as an interest.  This speaks directly to their fans and  and in a language that the audience your targeting may understand and relate to.

how to target by celebrities and famous people with facebook ads

Select Your Images and FanPage

One thing you may want to try are variations of images for your ads.  Facebook lets you upload your own images or select from their partnership with Shutterstock.  You can choose up to 6 images to run with your ads.  The trick here is to test funny, relevant and things that will stand out.

Remember, you’re trying to make your ad stand out while the person is updating their status, talking to friends, playing games or anything else they do on Facebook.  By using funny things that stand out, and relevant things to the product or service, you may be able to distract them enough to read your ad and also click through and hopefully shop on the merchants website.

how to select images that convert for facebook adsOne thing you want to check before you launch any ad on Facebook is that you have the right FanPage selected.  If you have multiple or a few that are relevant, potential viewers may wonder why you’re promoting something that isn’t relevant to the topic of the page.

You won’t be able to select SmugMug unless you’re an admin and it’s against our TOS to create a page or pretend to be SmugMug.  However, having a Photography oriented FanPage it could make sense to the end user and help you to build a relevant following if your targeting is good.

choose the right fanpage for facebook ads

Create Your Budgets, Launch and Optimize

The last thing to do is to create your budgets, a start and stop day/time and then launch.  I usually let my campaigns run for at least a few days before I start turning off ads and creating new variations.  You need to have a reasonable amount of frequency before you give up so check the frequency and reach as well as conversions to make sure the ads and copy had a fair shot.  Sometimes it takes a person 4 or 5 times to see an ad before they click and even a couple more before they click again and purchase.

Making money as an affiliate, growing your following or as a store with Facebook ads can be tricky.  You have to really target well, be prepared to lose money and also hope the merchant has a mobile friendly landing page that is also relevant to your ads and images.  When you do find the combinations that work, that is when you can start to scale your campaigns so that you can hopefully earn more.  You may also be able to take that same data and apply it to other social networks.

If you want to try promoting the SmugMug affiliate program with Facebook ads, click here to sign up and then add me on skype and I’ll be happy to look over your targets and come up with custom ideas for you as well.  If you liked this post, feel free to share it on your favorite social media site and also sign up for my newsletter for more posts like this one.

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11 thoughts on “How to Use Facebook Ad Targeting to Make Money”

  1. Thank you for this thorough example. I have been exploring this platform with a small campaign to increase my page likes. It offers an incredible platform for targeting an audience.

    A limiting factor as you pointed out is that Facebook inherently isn’t targeting an audience during the sales cycle like Google Adwords would be.

  2. @Adam

    Great Adam.. Great post

    Declare new items on your Facebook page and advance the post utilizing the conventional Facebook Ads interface so you can focus on your post to the Facebook groups of onlookers destined to purchase.

    Utilize the Custom Audience highlight in the Facebook Ads Power Editor to target advertisements to your present client base and mailing rundown to expand perceivability for your new items.

  3. Hey, great post! Could you elaborate more on direct linking? I’ve never really gotten into Facebook ads because I’ve heard they are rather harsh on affiliates and quick to close accounts.

    So I’m guessing you direct linked to your Shareasale affiliate link from Facebook and did not use a landing page of your own?
    “You can use direct links if you’re a retail shop or blogger” What exactly did you mean by this?


    1. Hi Kaj,

      Yup, Facebook lets you use your direct affiliate link as the landing page URL. However, if you want to build a following for your own site, your newsletter, etc… you may want to use your own site in between so you can also better presell the product or service.


  4. Thanks for giving us such a great information about how to use facebook to earn money. Keep on doing like this and I will follow you.

  5. Hi Adam,

    Facebook ads very tricky to use, I am doing it from last six months using various demographics, but till now I didn’t understood the dynamics of it, here you clearly analysed about Smugmug product to target, thanks for sharing such a detailed information about facebook ads, see you soon.

    1. Hi Siddaiah,

      Thank you for the comment. There’s a lot more that it takes to convert cold ads into sales on Facebook, but if you keep testing you should be able to find something that works for you and your goals.


  6. I’ve been considering using fb ads for a while but was a little unsure I could make it work. The information in your article really helped clear things up. I’ll be trying this asap. Thanks!

  7. This is very interesting information,but i think it’s a little bit complicated for the ordinary people, too many steps. You have to promote things you don’t really care about. My personal opinion is that it’s the worst you can do for your friends.

    1. Hi Iska,

      Thank you for your comment. I removed the link you dropped because it was a bit spammy. If the tool you mentioned with the comment turns out to be good I’ll add it into a post at some point. I always like learning new ones.

      As for your comment about the basic strategy above, I respect your opinion about there being a lot of steps, but being successful (especially as an affiliate) is a lot of hard work. If you’re not willing to put the time and energy and study data or build real campaigns, you won’t succeed. There are very few exceptions and the chances that you’ll be one of them are slim to none. You’re better off playing the lottery if you want to be an overnight success…it doesn’t happen without the work.

      It is not complicated at all either. It’s learning how to use the tools provided. Once you become familiar with an interface and what you can do, it becomes very simple. The first step is not being intimidated by the interface. Once you get over the fear of it you can do a lot more than the steps listed and really kick some butt with it.

      I respect your opinion, but also need to comment that it is not a lot of steps and you need to be even more detailed if you want to run successful campaigns.

      Thank you and I hope you come back and comment again!


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