EXPOSED: Using Facebook’s Audience Data for Fun & Profit

Mind Blown  Vizion Interactive

facebook's audience data for fun and profit


*Note – Facebook’s Graph Search no longer exists. It has been replaced by a more keyword based search engine focused on posts. However, if you make a search query similar to the previous graph search query, the results will point you to the new structured query.

Facebook’s Graph Search and new features in ad audience targeting have provided a wealth of information and offered new abilities to Internet marketers (or any member of the public), but it still remains largely untapped. With a bit of creativity, the options are almost endless!

This post covers the various benefits that Facebook’s data offers to both marketers and users and outlines how to take advantage of the data and how to optimize your pages for Graph Search.
Feel free to jump to the section that interests you the most:

Data Mining, Research, & Competitive Intelligence

Influencer Marketing

Hiring & Recruiting

Audience Advertising

Graph Search Optimization

Tips for Users (non-marketing)

Fun Queries to Try

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL; DR)

facebook graph

Data Mining, Research, & Competitive Intelligence

Facebook’s Graph Search isn’t just good for learning about your own audience—queries can pull data for any business, company, person, place, or thing on Facebook.

Value comes with the form of its interpretation and comprehension. Let’s take a look.

What can I gather from using Graph Search to analyze the audience of Vizion Interactive? Our audience listens to Iron Maiden in the daytime and reads the Bible by night. J But let’s read into this a bit. The devil is in the details, and you must be able to read between the lines and even stereotype.

If our audience likes “cooking,” it is likely that they are a bit older and have a family because young and single people are less likely to cook. If our audience likes “the Bible,” then it is likely to be more conservative. However, liking “heavy metal” contradicts that theory, right? We should now post a picture on Facebook of our staff members cooking in the kitchen with their families, a Bible next to the cookbook, and all sportin’ some heavy metal band T-shirts. I joke, but you can see how this can help tailor future content, and you can get an idea of the mindset you have to be in when looking at this data.

facebook interests of people who like Vizion Interactive


This is just an individual example, but imagine what you can do when you start pulling all this data together for a group of similar companies. That’s where Facebook’s Graph API comes in handy.

When it comes to competitive intelligence and data mining, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Are there any interests that my competitor’s audience does not share with my audience?
  • What Pages do my Facebook fans like?
      • Query: Pages liked by people who like [insert your Page or competitor’s Page]
  • What events/conferences do your competitor’s fans go to?
    • Query: Fans of [competitor Page] and [relevant conference name]
    • When you find the conference that is most popular among your competitor’s fans, arrange an opportunity to speak at or sponsor it.
  • For local SMB, find out who works at a nearby business and may be interested in your products or services.
    • Query: People who work at [nearby business] and like [your product or service]
  • For local SMB, find out which competitor clients or customers also use.
    • Query: [business type: e.g., Restaurants] in [city, state] visited by people who like [your brand/company]

You can further refine your data with query modifiers based on demographics, interests, Page likes, etc.
For example:

  • Query + “who are men” OR “who are women”
  • Query + “who are X years old” OR “who are over the age of 50”
  • Query + “who live in [location]”

Also consider combining these queries to create a combination. A combination query is an especially powerful tool.

[back to top]

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has reached new heights with the advent of social media. Finding people to support your brand or propel your message can make or break the spread of a campaign.
As important as it is to find influencers to support you, it’s also important to find your Fans who may be influencers as well.

The Graph API for Facebook makes sorting heavily engaged users on your Page very easy. Once you’ve identified the most engaged fans, you can also identify their interests and which Pages they like with the query, “Pages liked by PERSON X.” When you know how your fans tick, you will find it much easier to reach out and relate to them.

If you’re looking to target a message to certain types of your own fans, use queries like “Fans of Vizion Interactive who live in Dallas, TX, over the age of 50 who like Mashable.” Then compare the feedback of this group with other segments of your fan base to better understand your audience. From there, you’ll find not just overall influencers but influencers from different demographics and segments of your audience.


Darren Rowse Facebook
Expect an email from Jordan Kasteler on a future Vizion Interactive campaign, Darren Rowse!

[back to top]

Hiring & Recruiting

If you’ve ever been in charge of hiring at an agency or company, then you know how hard it can be to find talent. Some of the most talented people out there may not even be looking for a job but may be waiting to be poached.

People on Facebook who like Social media marketing and live in salt lake city, utah
Facebook has added “Professional Skills” to profile pages, so you can get a better insight into job candidates beyond their “Work and Education” history.

Faceboko's professional skills section

What kinds of interests or Pages does your ideal candidate have? Some examples include:

  • Likes particular industry trade magazines, online publications, books, etc.
  • Likes particular movies/music for a cultural fit
  • People who work/worked at competitor X

[back to top]

Audience Advertising

Facebook provides a mind-boggling amount of data that can be used to target ads to narrow audiences. The craziest part about it is that most marketers aren’t using the data as much as they could be.

Precise Interests

It’s not exactly news to most advertisers on Facebook that you can target ads to people who have Precise Interests. This is an extremely powerful feature that, from the beginning, has set Facebook ads apart.


Facebook precise interests for ads


Partner & Broad Categories

However, many marketers have yet to tap into the “big data” that is currently only available through Facebook’s Power Editor or the API. I’m speaking of Partner Categories and Broad Categories.

Facebook says,

“At launch, partner categories includes more than 500 unique groups. In addition, partner categories works with other Facebook targeting options, so advertisers can further refine their campaigns to reach only the right people. Ads that are well targeted benefit the advertisers who run them by driving higher return on investment and are a better experience for people who see more relevant ads.”

You can get so granular with these Categories that it really takes some creativity to figure out how to leverage these audiences. It’s time to stereotype again. If you are selling a “green” product then you might want to target Prius drivers who also purchase natural or organic food. Yes, you can pare down your results to identify what people purchase!

Facebook Partner Categories for Ads

Facebook Broad Categories for Ads

For a complete list of advertising possibilities for Partner and Broad Categories, check out PPCHero’s comprehensive list.

Custom Audiences and Similar Audiences

Equally or even more powerful features include the Custom Audiences tool and the Similar (lookalike) Audiences tool. With Custom Audiences you can upload a list of e-mail addresses, Facebook User IDs, or phone numbers to target on Facebook.

Facebook Custom Audiences

Pro Tip: Having trouble attracting the attention of inactive e-mail subscribers? Try advertising to them on Facebook by uploading their e-mail addresses.

Now that you have your own fan base uploaded to advertise to, you can advertise to a “Similar Audience.” This means that Facebook identifies commonalities between your current audience and other people on Facebook.

 Facebook Similar Lookalike Audience

And if that isn’t powerful enough, just think what you can do if you are able to access your competitor’s data to (A) create a Custom Audience and (B) match them with a Similar Audience. Facebook’s Graph API can help you achieve both goals. The power in that alone is beyond words!
Mind blown yet?

[back to top]

Graph Search Optimization

All of this info begs the question, “How do I appear in Graph Search queries?” In some cases you wouldn’t want to appear, but in most cases you would.

There aren’t any secrets or strategies here because much of this revolves around having a comprehensive Page or profile, which you should have already.

Facebook SEO

Facebook itself has offered some insight about how to optimize your Page:

“As always, continue to invest in your Page by making sure your Page is  complete and up-to-date.

  • The name, category, vanity URL, and information you share in the “About” section all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook.
  • If you have a location or a local place Page, update your address to make sure you can appear as a result when someone is searching for a specific location.
  • Focus on attracting the right fans to your Page and on giving your fans a reason to interact with your content on an ongoing basis.
  • You can learn more about fan acquisition and Page publishing best practices here.

It’s important to note that having a Facebook Page for your business is helpful but not required because businesses can still show up as a “Place” if a customer/client adds the business or if someone checks into the location via Facebook.
Other Facebook Page search optimization tips include:

  • Ensure your Page Name/URL are natural and relevant;
  • Link to your Facebook Page from your website;
  • Fill out the “About” section in detail;
  • Make sure your location and address are updated;
  • Invite fans, clients, and customers to Like your Page;
  • Use high-resolution images when you share;
  • Always aim for optimal post engagement with unique content.

[back to top]

Tips for Users (non-marketing)

So far, this post has been about using Facebook’s Graph Search for marketing, but we aren’t marketers ALL the time, right? Sometimes we have practical needs beyond our campaigns. There are many ways to use Graph Search in your everyday life.

Facebook Graph Search

Graph Search gives us the ability to:

  • Discover friends with similar interests or hobbies
    • Query: Friends who like Skateboarding
  • Connect with people from the past
    • Query: People who graduated in 2001 from Olympus High School
  • Connect with locals
    • Query: People who live in Salt Lake City, Utah, who like Vegan Food
  • Job hunt
    • Query: People who work in management and live in Salt Lake City, UT
  • Find a local business
    • Query: Dentist office in Salt Lake City, UT
    • Query: Art gallery near Park City, UT
  • Discover new music or movies
    • Query: Movies liked by people who work at Vizion Interactive
    • Query: Music liked by people who visited The Roxy ß music venue
  • Meet or network with new people
    • Query: People who are not my friends who work at Adobe

[back to top]

Fun Queries to Try

Who knew Graph Search would be good for entertainment and a laugh? If you get creative, you can make some hilarious discoveries.


Facebook search peta fur coats
facebook - christians who like satan


facebook search - current employers of people who like racism
Note—If your company is on this list, you need to talk to us at Vizion Interactive about Online Reputation Management (ORM).

Secret Pleasures

facebook - Catholics who like Durex
facebook- married people who like Prostitutes

[back to top]


Really? I wrote all that for nothing!? I understand, because I’d jump here myself.
In short:

  • Use queries to discover data about your audience and your competitor’s audience;
  • Use stereotypes when looking at Interests and Likes so you can determine how best to advertise or reach out to influencers;
  • Use Broad or Partner Categories, Precise Interests, and Custom or Similar Audiences for powerful ad targeting;
  • Make sure that you appear in Graph Search by fleshing out your Page or Profile;
  • Use Graph Search to discover for networking, local business search, new entertainment options, etc.

The major downside of Graph Search is that some people are unwilling to make their data available. In other words, if people aren’t sharing because they’re utilizing Facebook’s privacy settings, then we can’t tap into their information. So keep that in mind!


EXPOSED: Using Facebook’s Audience Data for Fun & Profit” Comments

  1. Oh_Mad_Hatter

    Excellent article covering the power of this brand new tool. I know I’ll be getting some work out of this very soon!

    • Thanks a bunch 🙂 Let me know how that works out for ya.

  2. Hi Jordan. A word of notice : you can’t query Graph search using the Graph API. At least not yet. Also, it’s not easy (at all) to identify the most engaged users on a Page using the Graph API. It could be done, but Facebook is strictly protecting the users’ privacy.

    • Hey Stephane, the Graph Search API wasn’t recommended for queries. It was for audience data mining. You’re right it not being easy to an average non-technical marketer.

  3. Fabio Nosima

    Hi Jordan, great tips man. So i need your help. How can i search people that work at stores cars? I want to see all people that work at a stores cars. For example: i want to see in the same time who works at “Miami Car” – “Fabio Car” – “Sun Car”, in order that see all people that works in stores cars.

Comments are closed.