Why Guess? Facebook Job Titles and the Vanishing Niche

Real world of MDR – Facebook® Data

By MDR team member, Sean McCloud – Product Manager

Trying to locate future customers online can involve a lot of guess work if you are not starting with a rich data source. Recently, we wanted to see what one of our customers would have to do to be able to target one of our most used selects online (without our help). For our task we decided to use Facebook. We know Facebook’s job titles have a rich teacher user-base and we also know that their focus on generating engagement means our ads will likely generate a strong click rate to our website. So, off we went into the Facebook wilderness without the safety net of our data.

While my language is hyperbolic, our attitude was not. I believe in our Facebook products and when I hear customers say they can do the same thing on their own I wanted to know, can they? Are we providing the value as I see it or is it time to rethink what we are doing? With an open mind we set out to test our theories. Why guess, when Facebook’s Ad Manager makes the numbers plain?

MDR has been presenting the idea that Facebook’s job title targeting is too broad, that too many users look like educators, and targeting users who look like ‘teachers’ is not the same as targeting teachers.

This is something we had tested in the past, and sure enough it held true. Simply searching on Facebook for teachers in the United States yields 32,000,000 results. This is more than 4 times the number of teachers, for both K12 and Higher Education, in the United States. Why is this the case?

We were expecting the huge numbers for teachers in Facebook, and it has been a strong talking point for us in the past about how this is not necessarily reliable information. Where our testing became more interesting was when we became more discriminating. If Facebook thinks there are 32 million teachers in the US, how many are K-12 Math Teachers? Using Facebook’s Job Title targeting, we can identify 36,000 K-12 Math Teachers in the US. We were shocked, this is the exact opposite of what was expected. Using the MDR data-set to build the same audience, we have closer to 180,000. But, to be sure of our findings, we decided to test more:

  • Middle School Teachers?
    Facebook Job Titles = 5,100 vs. MDR’s matched data set = 50,000
  • K12 Principals?
    Facebook’s Job Titles = 37,000 vs. MDR’s matched data set = 140,000
  • College Nursing Professors?
    Facebook’s Job Titles = 2,300 (loosely defined Nursing Instructor – the best we could find) vs. MDR’s matched data set = 20,000

We tested against some of MDR’s most popular audiences and time and again we found that the more targeted you wanted to get in the Education space, the smaller Facebook’s data set became.

The MDR data set is not only a way to tame Facebook’s overly generic ‘Teacher’ audience, but also a way to not limit yourself when you have a specific set of educators you need to reach.  Feel free to contact us to simply ask “how can you help me reach AND engage with a greater, targeted social audience?”


About Sean McCloud

As part of the Integrated Marketing Services team, Sean is involved in MDR’s customer branded marketing efforts from emails to web ads. With a background in web development, he brings a comprehensive understanding of marketing in the digital space. Sean has more recently been focused on developing MDR’s digital audience offerings, which empower MDR’s customer branded and in house marketing through the direct connect product suite.

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