Facebook broadens its audience targeting capabilities by pushing Custom Audiences.

Perhaps the biggest complaint of social media marketing is marketers’ inability to bridge the gap between online and offline engagement. The fans and followers linked to a brand’s Facebook Page may not be an accurate representation of whom invests in the company’s products or services most often. In fact, those consumers connected with corporate Pages reflect only a sample of the overall percentage of people interested in these organizations. However, Facebook introduced its new “Custom Audiences” feature in August 2012 and, while its adoption remains slow, the tool could be the most effective social media advertising option to date.

Custom Audiences allow marketers to create social media lead lists based upon emails, user IDs or phone numbers. The list can be uploaded via CSV or TXT file to Facebook directly. This process gives social media marketing professionals the ability to continue conversations with prospective and current customers across the web – Custom Audiences resembles a form of retargeting, and it gives professionals the chance to create memorable cross-platform experiences.

 Custom Audiences resembles a form of retargeting, and it gives professionals the chance to create memorable cross-platform experiences.

As MarketingLand contributor Greg Sterling points out, the critics will say Facebook’s targeting feature comes close to breaching privacy protocol, but in actuality, Custom Audiences acts the same way as offline direct marketing campaigns.

More, Facebook says that its audience targeting feature sees match rates between 50 percent and 95 percent, helping organizations take advantage of the network’s broad web coverage. Companies have also already seen impressive results from Facebook’s Custom Audiences function. For example, MGM Resorts used the tool to target repeat customers with offers for its Aria, Luxor, MGM Grand and Mirage hotels, the source reports. According to the reports, MGM Resorts saw a five times return on marketing spend. JackThreads also used Custom Audiences to target inactive buyers, and the company saw a six times return on spending.

How much does Custom Audiences cost? It’s free.

Marketers using Custom Audiences can upload an unlimited number of lead lists and target specific audiences directly through those audience segmentations. This feature can also work hand-in-hand with Facebook targeting, helping organizations reach out to specific demographics.

How much does Custom Audiences cost? Facebook offers the feature free of charge to brands active on the network, making it another incalculable benefit of Facebook marketing in today’s digital world.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.