How to use Facebook Audience Insights tool

Questions and Answers about Facebook Audience Insights

How to use the Facebook Audience Insights tool?

It's a often heard question, because Facebook constantly changes the functionality of Facebook Audience Insights. Therefore most of the articles & guides about this topic are outdated. We've decided to write a practical reference that lists the most frequently asked questions about this tool - we'll update it so you'll be in the know.

This guide is structured in a question and answer format, instead of a tutorial guide. I did that to make sure it's both suited for beginners, but more advanced users can browse through the questions to find the tips and tricks that matter to them.

For example:

  • Can you still analyse custom audiences in Facebook Audience Insights?
  • Is there an Facebook Audience Insights API?
  • What does 'affinity' mean and how should I interpret this score.

And many more.

By the end of this article, you'll be an expert when it comes to using Facebook Audience Insights tool for better targeting and understanding your target audience.

#1: What is the Facebook Audience Insights tool?

Let's start at the beginning. What is the Facebook Audience Insights tool? 

It's a tool offered by Facebook to advertisers. When you have an ad account you can access the Facebook Audience Insights tool from within your ad manager by clicking on the menu icon and then 'Audience Insights'. It's listed in the Plan section of the menu.

facebook audience insights tool


In Facebook Audience Insights the first choice that's presented to users is the type of audience they want to analyse. You can choose between 'Everyone on Facebook' or 'People connected to your Page'. If you have a decent number of followers / likes on your Facebook page it makes sense to analyse your audience of fans. Because they should be your ideal customer profiles. Otherwise you'll use the 'Everyone on Facebook' option to create an audience profile to analyse. This is how most people use it.

facebook audience insights audiences

#2: Can you still analyse custom audiences using Facebook Audience Insights?

No, sadly that option was removed. 

So what happened to Facebook Audience Insights? A lot ????

Before you could choose to analyse custom audiences to find common traits across the people in your custom audience. This was one of the best ways to learn more about your website visitors, your leads or your customers. But after the privacy scandals that happened in 2018, Facebook removed the option to analyse custom audiences. 

Currently you can just choose 'Everyone on Facebook' or your FB Page fans.

#3: Facebook Audience Insights not working?

If you regularly use Facebook Audience Insights you know that it's a bit buggy...

Sometimes it's completely down but most of the times when it's not working it shows error messages like: "data not available" or "too many redirects". This happens often.

I'm active in various Facebook groups and I would say that, based on the comments I read there, at least once per month Facebook Audience Insights is not loading.

Nothing you can do about it, except for waiting.

But it's good to know that it's not just you.

#4: What is the Affinity score in Facebook Audience Insights?

When you've created your seed audience, it's very interesting to see which pages are likely relevant to them. Especially when these pages are associated with interests that you can target with ads. The Affinity score helps you find the most relevant ones.

In the 'Page Likes' table you'll find Facebook pages that are likely to be relevant to your audience based on Facebook Page likes. The table is sorted by the Affinity score. This score indicates how likely your audience is to like a given page compared to everyone on Facebook. So a higher Affinity score, means a higher relevance to your audience.

In the example below I'm looking at the Page Likes table for a seed audience that is interested in 'Buddhist Meditation'. There I find that people in this audience are 2462x as likely to like the Facebook page of 'Tara Brach' compared to everyone on FB.

facebook audience insights affinity

And indeed... Tara Brach (a meditation teacher) seems to be a highly relevant page.

#5: Is there a Facebook Audience Insights API?

Facebook is constantly making updates and improvements to the platform.

Also to the different API's that are accessible to developers. Until the end of 2017 they offered the Facebook Audience Insights API so developers could create value adding products and services on-top of FB's Audience Insights data.

They shut down this service in december 2017 when they started merging the large number of API's - like the feature rich Facebook Marketing API . 

When they deprecated the Facebook Audience Insights API, Facebook stated that they want their advertisers to use the Facebook Audience Insights interface - instead of interfaces developed by third party developers.

#6: Is there a Facebook Audience Insights app?

No, there is no Facebook Audience Insights app.

Facebook offers different apps, next to the main Facebook mobile application. For example the app for page managers and group managers, or the app to manage Facebook ads. But Facebook Audience Insights doesn't have it's own mobile app and can only be used from your ad account on desktop devices.

#7: Are there any Facebook Audience Insights alternatives?

Facebook owns a goldmine of data. 

That's why it's close to impossible for other companies to provide insights like Facebook has. Our Facebook profiles contain demographic information, our web usage is tracked by Facebook pixels that are installed on almost any website and our (aggregated) conversations using Messenger & WhatsApp are interpreted and analysed. 

So even if you would upload a list of email addresses to some other company that provides audience insights, they would never be able to match these email addresses to the number of data points that Facebook tracks from its users. 

So... is there a real alternative to FB Audience Insights? No, I don't think so.

However there are some alternative tools to serve one of the use-cases of Facebook Audience Insights: finding interests to target with your Facebook ads. I built one myself. 

I noticed that Facebook Ads Manager shows you just 25 suggestions for interests you can target with ads and Facebook Audience Insights also shows a limited number of related interest (not even all of them can be targeted). 

That's when I discovered that Facebook's Marketing API returns all the available interest to target related to any topic - so a lot more than just 25. I built my Facebook interests tool InterestExplorer around this. There'a also ConnectExplore, which is also a software that reveals interests. Feel free to check my in-depth ConnectExplore review article.

#8: Is there a Facebook Audience Insights Chrome extension?

If you're looking for a Facebook Audience Insights Chrome extension, you're probably looking for Facebook Audience Insights Plus. There are still many videos about this Chrome extension that was launched a few years ago. Sadly this extension no longer exists and can't be installed anymore from the Chrome web store. 

What did Facebook Audience Insights Plus do?

It basically showed you the interests that show up in Facebook Audience Insights in either blue or red. Blue meant that the like / interest can be targeted with, red meant it's not possible to target these with ads. You could also click on the blue interests to add them to the interests field in Facebook Audience Insights tool to further explore these.

In short: Facebook Audience Insights Plus is a Chrome extension that saves you a lot of time when doing audience research. Sadly, it's no longer available for download...

An alternative built by an Indonesian developer is the PreciseMagnetic extension.

#9: Is there also a version of Facebook Audience Insights for Instagram?

A common misconception amongst Facebook advertisers is that Facebook and Instagram have different audiences. Sure, it's a completely different platform with it's own users - but purely from an advertising perspective Instagram is just one of the "placements" where your ads can be shown.

There is no version of Facebook Audience Insights specifically for Instagram. 

But if you research your audience in Facebook Audience Insights and create a saved audience, you can build a campaign with placements on Instagram (feed or stories) targeting this audience. Part of that audience will be active on Instagram.

#10: How to export Facebook Audience Insights?

When you've created an audience based on a demographic profile and interests, you might be wondering how you can export from Facebook Audience Insights. 

In short: it's not possible to export data from Facebook Audience Insights.

But you can save your audiences.

save audience facebook audience insights

To do that, you should click on 'More' in the top menu and then 'Save As'. There you can give your audience a name and save it. At a later time you can 'Open' the audience again to further specify it and 'Save' it again as an updated version.


A sad conclusion is that Facebook removed so many features and data points from the Facebook Audience Insights tool, that it became a lot less valuable then before. It still is a great tool for audience research - but it's not as powerful anymore.