You'll be hard pressed to find another social networking site that does a better job with its advertising platform than Facebook. Not only does Facebook have access to the most data, but it also lets advertisers customize and filter audiences based on all of this information. For businesses, the benefits can be incredible.

Facebook's Robust Data Collection Methods

When you mention the phrase "data collection" alongside Facebook, you're bound to encounter some pretty heated debates. Business-minded people stare in awe at how well Facebook has been able to collect user information without significant backlash or issues. Privacy-concerned users are disgusted at the fact that a company knows so much about who they are and what they do.

However, that latter group is feeding Facebook's power. Every time someone tags a picture, they contribute to the fact that Facebook is the largest biometric database in the world. Each time someone fills out a basic piece of information on their profile--such as graduating from XYZ college--they're telling Facebook something about their social class, location, and allegiances. Whenever someone sends a friend request to another user, they're inadvertently telling Facebook that they have a personal connection to that individual.

Whether we realize it or not, we're all empowering Facebook. Some like it, others don't. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you should learn to love it and utilize it.

Understanding Facebook Ads

At first glance, Facebook advertising can seem intimidating and complicated. And, to be honest, it is if you don't know what you're doing. Take it step by step and you'll be just fine. Here are some things you need to know before delving into specific targeting strategies:

Campaigns are based on objectives.
Placement differs.
Budgets are important.

5 Tips for Highly-Targeted Ad Strategies

Once you understand the different types of objectives, how placement works, and how to set your budget, it's time to finally utilize Facebook's sophisticated targeting features. With the following tips, you can extract maximum value from Facebook:

Get Specific With Demographics

If you've done a good job of collecting your own data and building individual customer profiles, you'll have a lot of success--and fun--with Facebook's demographic data. With highly sophisticated demographic targeting features, you can touch on things like relationship, education, work, financial, home, ethnic affinity, generation, parents, politics, life events, and more. In other words, Facebook will allow you to sync your customer profiles into the system.

And to give you an idea of how detailed each of these demographic categories are, consider that underneath relationship status you can select single, in a relationship, married, engaged, unspecified, civil union, or domestic partnership. (This would be a good time to say, 'Thanks Facebook for collecting such detailed information!')

Utilize Purchase Behavior Data

Did you know that Facebook actually has business partnerships with data brokers like Acxiom, Epsilon, and Datalogix? Through these relationships, Facebook has access to the data behind trillions of consumer transactions each year.

By linking this information to user profiles, Facebook is able to identify purchase behaviors. Advertisers can then target consumers based on what they like to buy and how they like to buy it. For example, an ecommerce baby clothing company could target consumers that have shopped online for baby accessories in the past three months. When combined with demographic data, the options are literally limitless.

Target Life Events

Certain businesses thrive on selling products and services to people who are going through particular life situations. For example, a moving company obviously targets people who are transitioning from one residence to another. A funeral home seeks to connect with people who've had a death in the family or who are dealing with terminally ill loved ones. A wedding planner targets people who are engaged or in serious relationships.

Well, Facebook has done it once again. With timelines, Facebook knows what's going on with its users. Whether that's getting a new job, starting a new relationship, moving to a new country, or having a baby, Facebook relays that information to advertisers and allows them to display appropriate ads.

As an advertiser, don't ignore the advantage of life events targeting. It's a feature that very few advertisers attempt to use, but one that can produce phenomenal results.

Geography Makes a Major Difference

While local businesses will obviously want to target certain geographical areas, ecommerce businesses and national brands should find this feature valuable as well. Using Facebook's location information, you can target countries, states, cities, zip codes, and even individual neighborhoods. This comes in handy if you sell seasonal or regional products.

For example, a beachwear company advertising bikinis has to be careful about which areas it targets based on the time of year. A February advertisement aimed at Miami residents will be much more effective than one delivered to a group of New Yorkers. Without differentiating your target audience based on geography, the same ad would be shown to both groups.

Give Remarketing a Try

After you've run a few different campaigns and familiarized yourself with the different targeting features, you may want to try Facebook remarketing. Dylan Roukous of Nectar Sunglasses says "Remarketing allows you to display new ads to users who've previously clicked on one of your ads or followed through with a specific conversion goal. We've found this to be a fantastic way to reengage users with our brand."

Ignore Facebook Advertising at Your Own Peril

At this point, ignoring Facebook Advertising is a huge mistake for a business of any size. It's cost-effective and feature-rich. With the right tweaks, any business can identify and reach the right customers. Sure, it takes time and effort to discover what works and what doesn't, but it's all worth it in the end. After all, Facebook has an audience of nearly 1.5 billion users. That makes for 1.5 billion good reasons to use this sophisticated advertising platform.