Facebook is refining its targeting tools for marketers. The social networking giant is now rolling out the ability for Facebook Page owners to target their posts at new audience subsets.

The targeting allows adding a specific age range or gender with other subsets. These options will become available for all pages within weeks. Facebook said that the new, enhanced Page Post Targeting only affects the news feed, “unlike current geo/language gating options, which restrict post visibility in news feed and on the Page timeline to only those who meet the selected gating criteria.”

Relationship, College

The options for post targeting will eventually be expanded beyond the current location and language, to also include “interested in,” relationship status, education, college grad (college name and major), in college (college name, major, years), in high school and workplace, in addition to the new age and gender. This will allow marketers to reach specific audiences based on user types, interests and situations with targeted content and language.

The social networker recently announced it would be removing the ability for marketers to target posts to users who had visited and Liked something on the marketers’ external websites that contained Facebook Like buttons. Instead, marketers are being encouraged to post their content and Like buttons within Facebook in order to be able to follow those fans with targeted publishing.

Friends of users who have received targeted News Feeds posts, but who themselves are not in the targeted group, will still be able to see the Liking or commenting by their friends to that post. All posts will still be shown in the Timeline of the marketer’s page, so that friends of engaged fans can see viral stories.

Learning Opportunities

‘Social Media Fatigue’

Some industry observers are optimistic that increased targeting will not only reduce clutter for users and improve feedback for marketers, but will help to address a growing sense of what Econsultancy recently described as “social media fatigue.”

The consulting agency noted that marketers are discussing the possibility that the current heavy use of social media will begin to fade, as users tire of the same activities. Given the increasing level of investment in social media by marketers, this could be a problem.

To address this possibility, and perhaps help avert it, Econsultancy recommends a more targeted approach that emphasizes quality over quantity, a “less is more approach,” a strategic use of calls to action, and “analyze, analyze, analyze.”

Even with such advice, marketers will now need to be able to measure whether the additional targeting refinements being offered by Facebook is resulting in more of anything they want -- word of mouth, sales, referrals and so on.