Looking for a complete and up-to-date list of all Facebook interests you can target with ads?
Let's make a deep-dive into Facebook interest targeting.
In this article, you’ll:
When you’re advertising on Facebook, you’re familiar with the Facebook Ads Manager interface. In the ‘Detailed Targeting’ section of the ad set creation process, you can enter your detailed targeting options like: behaviors, demographics or interests.
To show all available interests, click ‘Browse’ to open a tree-structure that shows all the different interests that you can target with ads.
We added the complete Facebook interests list in a later section of this article, for your reference. But as you’ll quickly notice this can't be the complete list of Facebook interests...
It’s more like a complete list of Facebook interest targeting categories. There are many more specific interests within these categories that FB hides.
How to find these? I'll show you
First of all, you should know that Facebook Ads Manager limits the number of interest suggestions they show to advertisers to 25 interests.
So when you select an interest from the tree-structure, let’s take the example of “Meditation”, you can then click suggestions to show 25 interests that are related to “Meditation”.
You’ll find suggestions like “Yoga” or “Mindfulness”.
So far, so good right? These interests are indeed relevant to our main topic “Meditation”. The only problem is: these are BIG audiences of millions of people.
What you can also do is type in “Meditation” instead of selecting it with from the menu. While typing Facebook will again show 25 suggestions of related interests you can target.
This time you’ll find suggestions like “Buddhist meditation” or “Transcendental Meditation”. These audiences are a lot smaller and more targeted compared to the BIG audiences we saw before.
But still Facebook shows only 25 suggestions. That's just a fraction of all the interests that are related and available for targeting.
Your last option to find more related interests is to go to Facebook Audience Insights and type in the interest “Buddhist meditation” for example - to further inspect the audience that has this interest.
In the Page Likes section you’ll often find highly relevant interests, sorted by their Affinity score. This is a score that indicates how likely your selected audience (in this case people with an interest in “Buddhist meditation”) is to like these pages.
A high Affinity score indicates that your audience likely likes these pages. In this example I found interests like “Tara Brach” and “Spirit Rock Meditation Center”. Looking at the table, people that like "Buddhist meditation" are 2471x more likely to like the Tara Brach FB page compared to everyone else on Facebook.
Although it’s still a small list, these interests are highly relevant.
And… some of these can be targeted with ads, but not all of them.
Because Facebook doesn’t show you which ones - you’ll have to manually enter them (one by one) into Facebook Ads Manager to see if something comes up. It’s a big frustration, no other words for it...
So how come some pages can be targeted while others can’t?
On Facebook “pages” and “interests” are two completely different things, but they can be associated. There are millions of Facebook pages, but not all of these are associated to an interest that can be targeted with ads.
Actually, many aren’t.
So when you explore profiles of people who should be your ideal customer, to find pages they like, there is a big chance that these can’t be targeted with ads.
It’s completely random which FB pages also have an associated interest.
Most of the times they are pages with big followings, but even that isn’t always the case. There are also lots of smaller pages with only a few thousand followers that can be targeted as interest.
It’s random; and it changes all the time.
Targetable interests appear and disappear at will.
Let's fast-forward. Let’s say you completed your research and found a list of Facebook interests to target.
I’ve showed you two methods to do Facebook interest research.
Next up I’ll explain how to pick the best and most relevant Facebook interests for your campaigns. This is always easiest to explain using an example.
The “they know it, but no-one else does” test
Let’s say you own a webshop that sells clothing, gear and accessories to golf enthusiasts. How would you target your potential customers?
Many advertisers would say “target the interest in famous golfers like Tiger Woods”. And sure, you could do that. It might work. But the interest “Tiger Woods” has a worldwide audience of 2M people.
Are these all passionate golf enthusiasts? Probably not.
Everybody and their mom knows who Tiger Woods is.
It’s much more effective to target an interest like “Titleist”, which is a niche golf brand. People that have this interest, are probably golfers. Most non-golfers don’t know this brand. They’ve probably never even heard of it.
That passes the tests and makes it a great interest to target.
Public interests vs hidden interests
The above-mentioned 25 interest suggestions that Facebook gives you, are called “public interests”. They show these in the FB ads manager interface and in Facebook audience insights, to all advertisers on the platform.
Currently there are well over 6 million.
The rest, the interests that you can target but that are not included in Facebook’s shortlists, are called the “hidden interests”.
They only make them available through the FB Marketing API so software developers can build value-adding software around them - for functions that Facebook does not include in their own platform.
In the final section of this article, I’ll show you how you can use this API (with a smart hack for non-developers) to reveal these hidden interests related to any of the categories you’ll find in the Facebook interests list below.
The complete Facebook interests list
Facebook constantly makes changes and improvements to the platform.
Also to the list of Facebook interests you can target at any given moment.
So first, I’ll list the tree-structure of Facebook interest targeting categories - so you can use these as a reference and as input for the final section of this article in which I’ll show you how to reveal the hidden Facebook interests within these categories using Facebook’s Marketing API (without needing to hire a developer)
This is the up-to-date Facebook ads interests list:
Facebook interests list PDF
Click the blue button below to download the complete Facebook interests list PDF to your computer.
To avoid repeating myself, let me link you to an article I wrote earlier on Medium. It explains the exact step-by-step method to use the FB Marketing API as a non-developer. It's really easy to do (even for non-techies).
You can use the interests in the Facebook interests list as broad inputs.
Then FB’s Marketing API will return relevant hidden interests.
If you played around with the method I'll explain in the Medium article but you want to save time doing manual work, also check out our Facebook interest targeting tool InterestExplorer. It was built around this methodology but saves you all the manual work + adds some nice features.