If you’ve been advertising on Facebook for some time (like me), then you know that nothing is as fitful as Facebook. The UI of Facebook Ads Manager is constantly changing, as are the available features.
In order to simplify the interface and make it accessible to a wider group of advertisers, many features and options have been removed over time. Including many of the interests available for targeting.
But these interests have not been removed. They are still available for targeting, only now hidden…
In this article I’ll explain what hidden Facebook interests are and I’ll show you multiple methods for finding them (both free and paid).
What Are Hidden Facebook Interests?
Hidden Facebook interests are interests that you can target with ads, but that aren’t auto-suggested / auto-populated in Facebook Ads Manager.
Let me show you what I mean.
When you type a keyword into the Detailed Targeting form field when defining the target audience of your ad set, Facebook will open a dropdown with suggestions for interests you could use.
These interests are related to your input keyword.
Regardless of your input keyword, Facebook will show a maximum of 25 related interests you can target. These are called “interest suggestions”.
Most advertisers will just use these interests to define their target audience. But most of the interests that are included in these 25 suggestions, will be fairly broad keywords with large audience sizes (like in this example: golf course, golf club, golf ball). So… not really targeted.
Why does Facebook suggest broad interest audiences?
There are 2 reasons for that actually:
It makes the decision process simple and that helps unexperienced advertisers to launch their first campaign quickly. Having too many choices is often negatively correlated with making a choice.
It increases the targeted audience of campaigns. By suggesting broad interest audiences, the reach of the campaign will be bigger and therefore it will generate more revenue (for Facebook).
But it doesn’t necessarily generate more revenue for advertisers…
Next to the 25 interest suggestions Facebook presents in the dropdown, there are many more interests that used to be suggested as well.
But in their effort to simplify the Facebook Ads Manager interface they’re now hidden.
I’ll show you multiple methods, both free and paid, to reveal these hidden Facebook interests that are still available for ad targeting.
How To Find Facebook Hidden Interests For Free?
Let’s start with the free strategies you can use to find hidden Facebook interests. These are manual strategies that don’t require software.
The alphabet method
The first free method for finding Facebook hidden interests is to “guess” them by running through the entire alphabet. You’ll just type your main keyword followed by all the letters of the alphabet:
For example: Golf a, Golf b, Golf c, etc.
This forces Facebook to suggest 25 interests, which will often include new interests that weren’t suggested before when you typed just “Golf”.
Facebook’s interest API
The second free method for to reveal hidden Facebook interests is to use the API that’s available to Facebook app developers. This sound super technical, but it’s actually really easy to do.
All of the features that are available inside Facebook Ads Manager, are also available through Facebook’s “API”. This is the interface programmers interact with when they’re building 3rd-party tools that include Facebook functionality. The “interest” API is publicly accessible to anyone.
This is what it looks like:
It’s really easy to use. You just enter a keyword (like Golf) into an API URL in your browser and hit enter. Then it returns output like above.
This output contains all interests related to your input keyword.
Facebook’s interest suggestion dropdown inside Facebook Ads Manager uses this exact same API as their source of data. They just limit the number of displayed results to 25, while there are many more results.
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Both the alphabet method as well as the Facebook interest API method are entirely free. The only downside it that they require some manual work (searching, de-duplicating and organising results).
Why You Should Use Facebook Hidden Interests In Your Targeting
Maybe I should’ve started this article by explaining why you should use hidden Facebook interests, instead of just the ones that are auto-populated by default.
Well… I kind of touched upon this in the beginning. The interests that are suggested inside Facebook Ads Manager, are often very broad interests keywords. With really big audiences.
More often than not these interests aren’t really defining for your target audience. They’re not laser-targeted, but include a lot of people that aren’t really interested in the topic at all… (I’ve devoted an entire article on how Facebook determines interests)
For example: the interest “Golf club” is a lot less defining for an audience of enthusiastic golf players compared to an interest like “Bubba Watson” (that’s a famous Golf player).
The latter is a much better (hidden) interest to target, because:
If you’re an enthusiastic golf player, you’ll absolutely know who Bubba Watson is. But if you’re not into golf, you have probably never heard of Bubba. So an interests like “Bubba Watson” clearly defines a target audience, while exluding everyone who’s not in that audience
That’s what I call the “but nobody else criteria” for picking the best Facebook interests. People in my target audience have this interests…. but nobody else does.
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