How Does Facebook Know What I'm Thinking? | Social Joey

There’s no doubt about it—we know social media. That’s why so many people come to us when they have questions about how social media works and how to get the best results.

Believe it or not, the question in our headline is one of the most common questions we get. That’s because many of us are naturally curious about how and why it seems like Facebook is inside our heads and knows our next moves before we do!

While you probably know at some level that your information is being collected online, you may not have a full grasp of how it works. You may not know the extent to which your data is being collected, online and offline—or how Facebook uses that information to “enhance your ad experience” within the platform based on your interests, hobbies, or behaviors.

Knowing that information can come in handy when it comes to targeting your business audience!

Because we get the question so often, we thought it would be worth taking a few minutes to talk through the basics. Let’s take a deep dive.

How Facebook Collects Your Data

This section is probably going to knock your socks off. OK, maybe not literally—but it’s definitely interesting.

Facebook collects a wide range of data about people who use its products. Here’s the “knock your socks off” part: They collect that data when you aren’t using Facebook—and even if you don’t have Facebook at all.

They pull data from a wide range of sources. You probably recognize that you’re providing them with data in your profile details. They also learn about you from posts you share, links you visit, photos you upload, pages you like, places you check-in, and a number of other sources.

This sounds sneaky, but they do provide you the details on the website, if you hunt them down. In some cases, you can tweak what you’re sharing.

Along with actions you’re taking on Facebook itself, Facebook also gathers data from businesses that provide contact information for customers, your activity elsewhere on the internet, and location data through its apps.

How Facebook Organizes Your Data

That’s a lot of information! So, what does Facebook do with that information? They organize it and categorize users into different categories.

Wondering what that looks like for you? You can check!

Follow these instructions to see how Facebook targets you:

  1. Go to your personal Facebook timeline.
  2. Click the dropdown arrow next to your name in the top right.
  3. Choose “Settings and Privacy.”
  4. Choose “Settings.”
  5. In the menu on the left, choose “Ads” near the bottom.
  6. Under “Ad Preferences,” click “Ad Settings.”
  7. Choose “Categories used to reach you.”
  8. Under “Interests and Other Categories Used to Reach You,” choose “Interest Categories.”
  9. Select “See All Interests.”

Once you get here, you’ll see all the categories Facebook uses to market to you.

There’s one other way to get a good look at all the information Facebook has about you:

  1. Go to your personal Facebook timeline.
  2. Click the dropdown arrow next to your name in the top right.
  3. Choose “Settings and Privacy.”
  4. Choose “Settings.”
  5. In the menu on the left, choose “Your Facebook Information.”
  6. Then choose “Download Your Information.”

From there, you’ll be able to select a way to download all of the data Facebook has ever collected about you. Fair warning: It’s a lot!

How Facebook Utilizes Your Data to Target You

Facebook uses all that information they’ve gathered about you to “learn” who you are and what you like. Basically, they’ve built out a persona on you—and every other user!

You might wonder how accurate that persona would be. It’s actually pretty solid.

A 2015 research study conducted by The University of Cambridge and Stanford University found that Facebook data could more accurately predict your behavior than even friends and family. Whew!

So, what does Facebook do with that data? For one, Facebook uses your browsing info to share analytics information with other websites. In other words, so they know how many people are visiting their site and how often. According to Facebook, data is also used to help identify and remove bots.

But the main use relates to advertising. While it seems like it would be most lucrative to sell the data, they don’t sell it. Instead, they use that data to sell access to users.

Essentially, that means that they use data to help businesses target customers with ads that are placed on their newsfeed.

How to Use Facebook to Drive ROI

Here’s the biggest point from this blog: Facebook offers businesses the best return on investment for targeting using this data.

It makes sense, right? Facebook has collected a ginormous repository of information about users and non-users alike. It knows shopping preferences, favorite colors, age, gender, economic status, location, and all sorts of other details that are typically part of a really fleshed-out buyer persona.

So, when you’re looking to turn your own buyer personas into an actionable audience, you can match up what you know about your audience with what Facebook knows about its audience.

Not sure how to make it work for your business? That’s where we come into the picture! You can fill us in on all the details of your target audience—and we can take it from there.

Don’t have fully identified buyer personas? That’s OK!

You can simply tell us what categories—whether they’re granular or broad—will give us insight into your target customers. Think of it this way: Is there a certain brand, store, or food that they engage with? Is there a professional organization that they may belong to?

Once you’ve identified some characteristics people in your target audience might have in common, we can match those preferences with what Facebook knows. Ultimately, that helps target your advertising dollars more than any other platform out there.

After all: Who else has the depth of data that Facebook has?

We know social media—and we know Facebook advertising! Let us help you reach your target audience. Get in touch today to learn how we can help.