Targeting Ethical Audiences on Social Media

In a commercially driven world, all businesses are looking for a unique selling point (USP); that special something to help them stand out from the crowd. USPs built around price, customer service, quality, effectiveness and convenience all resonate with mainstream audiences and the brand messages that support them flood the market daily.

But for some audiences, businesses need to go above and beyond to appeal to their customer’s personal values, knowing that these are the messages that resonate the most.

‘Ethical’ Stands Alone

Of these, ‘ethical’ stands alone as the most resonant. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to refer to ‘ethical’ as a niche audience, though in many respects it is becoming an intrinsic part of many brands.

The best ethical businesses build their organisations with ‘buying good’ as a USP. It’s a very human way of operating. As a result, customers like to share those values, organically growing very powerful and influential networks. With the right approach, social media can become a particularly fertile area for targeting ethical audiences interested in cosmetics, banks, charities and other sectors – tourism included.

The Ethical Travel Perspective

Stating the obvious, the growth of responsible tourism is down to the personal motivations of business owners and the willingness of customers to opt into more meaningful holidays. 

Social networks by default connect people most likely to share similar content. People who engage around comparable values are likely to be shown content from their like-minded friends more than others. Social network ad serving engines use those same signals to guide who they show what advert to and how frequently.

Case Study: Rickshaw Travel

The campaign we ran for Rickshaw Travel, for instance, was focused on putting their responsible tours in front of ethical travellers, immediately before the notoriously busy New Year booking period.

We developed a question-based Facebook campaign – a proven approach – to mine deeply into personal travel preferences, for the chance to win a trip shaped by their answers. It delivered quality data from genuine potential customers.

Social advertising and content production were key to activating the campaign. The Facebook posts we created supported its overall ‘responsible travel’ messaging and we boosted the content with a targeted media spend. Aside from delivering impressive reach with a ‘natural looking’ advertising product, specific audience targeting is where social networks are currently winning the digital media game hands down. And Facebook is still the market leader for our clients.

Two Principal Approaches

One group of ads was set up with the usual age and location targeting – plus a layer of “interests” that mined each user’s connections with and interests in ethical brands and causes. The second was based on a custom audience set up on the Facebook advertising platform. This system encrypts uploaded data, matches scrambled email addresses with users on Facebook and builds you a list of users you know are customers.

From there, we created a “lookalike” audience, to find other Facebook users who are of a similar age, live in similar locations, do similar jobs and share similar values to Rickshaw’s existing customer base. Through “in-campaign” optimisation of the creative and further tightening of our targeting we ended up focusing on the most successful “lookalike” audience to deliver the best results for data capture.

And this success was reflected in the compelling results of our advertising campaign. Achieving an average click-through rate of 1.66% – against an industry average of 0.52% – the campaign alone generated nearly 250,000 targeted impressions, ensuring Rickshaw’s ethical holiday options were seen by a large audience of interested individuals.


The real power of data capture through social media lies in being able to target genuine interests and engage with them naturally. At its best, this ‘word of mouth’ advertising can be hugely influential, especially for “niche” messaging, like ‘ethical’. 

Combining this targeted approach with copy and imagery we know resonates with ethical audiences, we’re able to use social media to generate genuine, qualified prospects for ethical businesses. And this can be seen in the results of our Rickshaw Travel campaign, but absolutely isn’t limited to one specific vertical.

To discuss our unique approach to social media marketing and how our targeted campaigns can be used to reach niche audiences, please get in touch with us today…