Using Facebook Ads to Micro-Target Gay Marriage Advocates

For class we were required to create a targeted Facebook ad campaign on  a particular issue. With the recent move from Congressional GOP’s to ban gay marriage in DC — which already passed last year — I found this to be an excellent choice to practice micro-targeting within the social media arena.

The steps to create the ad were relatively simple. After logging into Facebook and going to its advertising section, the first step was to create the ad itself and choosing the destination URL (in this case, I used a petition on Since there is a character limit in both title and content sections of the ad, Facebook really makes anyone creating an ad think hard about what exactly they want to say. After a moment or 5 of thinking out condense my call to action, I came up with what I thought would be compelling verbiage for my targeted audience to want to click on my ad:

“Title: Save Gay Marriage in D.C.”

“Content: GOP members of Congress want to end gay marriage in the Nation’s capital. Sign the petition and keep this basic right for everyone!”

I also chose an image of a poster stating, “Marriage Now!” versus a gay couple as, to me, it signified taking action more so than just a gay couple holding hands or eating a piece of wedding cake. Once completed, I moved onto the next phase: choosing my targeted audience.

Since this issue was one that affects only those in Washington, D.C., I selected city, and then chose Washington, D.C. Someone could have done the same using State/Province as Washington, D.C. tends to fill both categories. Next was demographics. Since I didn’t want to limit the scope of targeted individuals, I left the age range between 18 and “any” so any of those within voting age would be included. I also chose both men and women as gay marriage is not a gender specific issue.

Then it was onto “Likes and Interests.” When I typed in “gay” into the box, “Gay Marriage” came up as an interest, which seems to be a logical choice for a targeted audience. Doing so also made my the estimated reach of my ad at around 16,500 individuals. Finally, I kept the advanced demographics to “all” as I did not want to limit my reach any more so than I had already.

This is where I would like to point out that with any campaign, creating different targeted ads would be essential. While I chose “Gay Marriage” as the targeted interest in this ad, one could potentially reach many other targeted groups within Washington, D.C. For instance, if I chose “Democrat” as the interest, the estimated target number raised to 23,000. With this said, it may make sense to play around with ads and see what works best on a limited budget and then stick with the ad that produces the most return.

Click here to view a snapshot of my Facebook ad.


About digipolitics

Just your average Johns Hopkins University grad student learning how to leverage the online arena to engage potential advocates for issue advocacy campaigns.
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