I am having some great results by running Facebook ads for both myself and my clients through something I call "audience stacking".
By strategically using the ad spend to target different audiences at different phases of the life-cycle of the ad, I think we can reach high-quality audiences (meaning people who are most likely to be customers or become one) by honing in on what each specific audience looks for to initially decide if an ad (or post) is worth giving attention.
Currently my audience ad stack goes like this:
1. People who like your page and their friends
2. Lookalike audience
3. Broad location or demographic
People Who Like Your Page and Their Friends
The users in this audience already like your page, so they have already signaled "I want to see your content" making them the most likely to engage with likes, comments, and shares. This is important for two reasons:
1) To build a following and a brand, the people following you need to see your content
2) Having a high level of engagement will be important for the next audience because of the "social proof" it creates - people signaling, "Hey, this is good enough for you to be a part of, too."
While you might think that the people who follow your page will automatically see your content, that's not true - typically it's around 10% of your followers, and I seem to hover anything between 10% to 30% on an average post. So if you've worked hard to get your page to 1,000 likes, anywhere from 100 to 300 people will see what you post if you don't put any money behind it.
Ouch. If you're working with a limited budget (most of us do), put the money behind your "big" pieces of content - videos, substantial offers, etc.
The pushing of the ad towards your follower's friends takes advantage of the fact they will see that their friends have already engaged with the post, as well as the likelihood they have some things in common with your current page followers. These common interests or attributes might push them to become followers.
Once we've accumulated social proof, we move onto the next audience - the lookalike.
The next audience is a lookalike or custom audience. Facebook will create an ad audience of people that "look" like users that have interacted with you based on the data set you provide.
This data set could be a customer list pulled from your POS system, your e-mail list, watched your videos or engaged with your page in some way, or people that have visited your website.
The beauty here is that these are people who don't know you exist or connected with you BUT are the type of people most likely to WANT to know you exist and connect. The addition of the social proof gained from the first audience along with the high probability that these people will convert into customers or followers makes this step the part that gives me goosebumps.
These people are also likely to engage with your ad, increasing your social proof and helping encourage the last audience to view it as valuable.
Broad Location or Demographic
This is the last audience you can use to squeeze some extra life of out of your ad. By casting a wide net, you might be able to connect with people our previous two audiences didn't cover.
For example, this might be a 25-mile radius of your store's location if you're a local business, or people in the United States that are interested in fashion, motorsports, or whatever are of service or interest your business lies within.
STACK YOUR ADS. Don't just throw money at a post and hope for the best - you're burning dollars. The amount you spend will ultimately determine an ads reach and effectivness