Saturday, February 24, 2018
Black Entrepreneur

How To Target African-Americans With Facebook Ads

facebook ad targeting

Have you ever wondered how the ads in your Facebook Newsfeed seem to speak directly to your interests almost to the point that you peek over your shoulder to see if someone is watching you? You better get used to it, because it is not going away, but the amazing upside is the opportunity it presents for entrepreneurs and business owners. It could be the difference in failure versus success.

In this guide, I will explain exactly how to target African-Americans with Facebook Advertising and give several examples of how it can be applied.

The ability to target very specific groups of people with online marketing has greatly improved over time and Facebook is leading the way. With all of the information that we have willingly given Facebook over the years, they have been able to use that information and build arguably one of the best online advertising platforms

To get started with Facebook Advertising, you will need a Facebook account. To get to the advertising panel , go to Facebook For Business.

Once on that page, click “create ad”

In this guide, I am not going to detail every step of the ad setup process because that would be a different guide in itself and a lot more to cover. I will specifically focus on ad targeting in this guide and how it can be applied to effectively target the African-American Market.

Facebook Advertising

In the image below is the targeting section of the Facebook ad setup.  This platform allows you to target by a ton of different options including age, gender, location, interests, behavior and as we will focus on “ethnicity.” The ethnicity demographic was limited until about a month ago and it now has several different options, one of which is African- American. Without any targeting, Facebook estimates there are 188 million people on Facebook that are 18 years old and older. When setting up ads on Facebook, the size of your audience changes as different criteria are added to the targeting. The estimated number of people that match your targeting options will be to the right like in the image below.

Facebook Demographic Targeting

Right under the language box, you would click on “More demographics” and a drop down list will appear that will include “Ethnic Affinity.”

Ethnic Affinity


Next, it will list all of the “Ethnic Affinity” options that are available. African-American is the top option and as you can see in the image, Facebook estimates there are 20.6 million African-Americans on Facebook in the United States that are 18 years old or older. That number would increase if we lowered the age to 13 which is an option.  Can you do some effective marketing with this type of targeting?

Ethinic Affinity African American

If you just stopped there, then you could target your message to the 20 million African-Americans in the United States that are 20 and over and likely get some decent results, but there would also be a lot of wasted advertising spend. Let me give you 10 examples of you can combine the ethnicity targeting with other targeting options that Facebook has available to narrow your audience like a razor.

Example #1 – Clothing Line

You own a retail or an ecommerce store that sales designer fashions that African-Americans typically wear or aspire to ow. On Facebook advertising, I would keep the Ethnicity targeting in place and add an “interest” targeting of “True Religion.” Based on the estimates in the right of the image below, there are 700 thousand African- Americans that have liked some page associated with True Religion. Do you think you could have some success targeting this audience that has expressed an interest in True Religion jeans? You could run ads for Gucci clothing, possibly Tom Ford, Louis Vutton, etc. This would be putting your ads directly into the newsfeed of the people that are most likely to buy your product.

Ethnic Affinity True Religion

Example #2: Life Insurance Sales

Let’s say you are an insurance sales person in Atlanta looking to target the African-American audience. From your experience, you know that the close rate and the size of policy is much greater with people who have income greater than $100k per year. Well that is one of the targeting options with Facebook Ads. In this example, let’s assume that you only want to target the Atlanta market so we change the location from to United States to Atlanta, Georgia and set the radius of 50 miles. According to Facebook, there are 100k African-Americans within a 50-mile radius of Atlanta, GA that have yearly income of $100k or more over the age of 18. For better success in this example, raising the age from 18 to 25 or 30 would probably make sense. You should also consider separate ads for men and women because the messaging can be different. Would your sales increase if you could put the exact message in the newsfeed of the tightly targeted market that is most likely to buy from you?

Ethnic Affinity over 100k

Example #3 – Hair Product Line For Natural Hair

The trend over the last several years has been a shift by African-American women from relaxed, processed hair to natural. Have you created a product that is absolutely perfect for natural hair and you want to get it in front of exactly the right people? Here is an idea of how to adjust your Facebook Targeting. Obviously we are going to keep the criteria of ethnicity set to African-American. We should also change the target back to United States from Atlanta as it was in the last example. Next, change the gender to Women only.

Now we want to start adding “interests” because we want to focus on those people that have expressed an interest through Facebook in natural hair. The interest box is kind of tricky in that you just start typing ideas and see what Facebook finds. Start with “natural hair” and several options will be found and it will include the estimated size of the audience. Another search term would be “black hair.” In the image below, I selected several interests including: natural hair rules, afro-textured hair, afro, natural hair mag, black hair, natural hair care, and I love natural hair. This returns an estimated audience of 2.9 million African-American women in the United States interested in natural hair.

Before you say “there are more than 2.9 million African-American women in the United States that are interested in natural hair,” keep in mind that everyone is not on Facebook and while there are others that are interested in natural hair, they have not expressed it by the groups they have joined or the pages that they have liked. It is much easier to sell to the people that have raised their hands and shown interest versus selling to those that you think should be interested in your product, but has not raised their hand.

natural hair targeting

Example #4 – Beauty Salon

Maybe you don’t have a product line, but you do have a beauty salon. By making a slight change to the targeting criteria in the last example, you can target potential clients very close to your salon. Assuming that we are still targeting women that are interested in Natural hair, then the only change that is needed is to the location. Instead of the United States, I would target particular zip codes. Depending on the area of the United States, this can be a lot of zip codes or a few depending on the density of the population.

For this example, I have selected four zip codes on the South Side of Chicago. This identifies 32,000 African-American women interested in Natural hair in the zip codes: 60615, 60653, 60631, and 60605. You can add as many and as few as you like, but keep in mind how far customers are willing to drive and your ad budget. The bigger the audience, the faster your ad budget will spend, usually. There are several variables to affect ad spend, but that also is another post in itself.

Another option here is to remove the interest targeting of natural hair sites and target all African-American women in those zip codes. That changes the audience from 32,000 to 60,000. What would it do for your clientele to put ads directly in the feed of 60k African-American women in the handful of zip codes closest to your salon?

Beauty Salon Targeting

Beauty Salon Targeting 2

Example #5 – Day Care Center

Do you own a daycare center that services predominately African-American children? Then there is a way to target potential clients. Let’s keep the same location criteria as the last example because much like salons, the location of a daycare is important. We also need to target both men and women for this example. If your ad budget is really small, I would only target women as they make most of the daycare decisions in the household.

The next criteria that we will add is “Parents.” Included in the list under the “More Demographics” button is a criteria named parents. When you click “all parents” it will return a list of parents and the estimated ages of their children. For this example, we will target parents of children from new born to 5 years old. By targeting the same four Chicago zip codes, Facebook has identified 3,100 people that match that criteria.

Before you start thinking 3,100 is not a lot of people, for a daycare to go from struggling to successful, it only needs a small fraction of this audience to become customers. What would an extra 15-20 customers do for the bottom line of a daycare center? Also, if you need more people, add more zip codes. There is no limit to the number of zip codes, but the further that you expand away from the physical location of the daycare center, the less likely the ads are targeting the best audience of potential customers.

Daycare Center TargetingThose are only a few examples, but they should give you an idea of what is possible with Facebook Ad targeting to get your message into the newsfeed of the people most likely to buy your products or services. Even if you are not ready to run ads, it is worth spending some time playing around with the targeting options to know how you want to target when you are ready to run ads. It does not cost anything until you actually run the ads.

Does this have your wheels turning with ideas of how you can advertise your business on Facebook? Are there any other examples of businesses that you would like to see how to target potential customers?

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  1. Denlyn Blake March 2, 2017 at 7:13 am

    Awesome post! Facebook ads are very targeted you can even target people of certain incomes and how many lines of credit they have. However, the more you dig into the demographics not the interests you will spend more. Or you can use interests and layer/narrow your audiences to find people who are passionate.

  2. sam March 7, 2017 at 4:48 pm


    Nice article. Where can I find more of your articles on Facebook advertising?


  3. sam March 7, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    I don’t have the option to choose Ethenic Affinity when creating ads. Is this option available to only certain advertisers?

    • Gen March 9, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      I too do not have the option to target Ethnicity. there is no “more Demographics” under Languages on my facebook ads option

    • JDub April 13, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      I found it under Behaviors –> Multicultural Affinity

  4. Tracey Bond March 29, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Helpful to know…”this is strategic information our agency ops can share with media + public relations clientele toward tailoring their integrated communications that are marketing via Facebook’s paid online media platform.” ~ @tracey007bond @beneficience

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