By Megan Bennett, owner and president of SociallyAcceptable 

Megan Bennett | Writer/Producer | Well Done MarketingFacebook advertising has been a challenge for small businesses to wrap their heads around. Targeting customers by general information like age, sex, location and whether they like Downton Abbey enough to mention it in their profile isn’t the most helpful or accurate way to reach them. But until recently, that’s just the way it’s been done.

Enter Partner Categories. Powered by Facebook partners Acxiom, Datalogix, and Epsilon, this is the newest tool in the Facebook ad arsenal.

This new feature allows businesses of all sizes to zero in on people in a whole new way by targeting through more than 500 different categories. Hey! Want to reach dog owners? You can. (12,643,500 of them are on Facebook.)

Lemme give you an example that might better show how and why this is big news:

You own a mom-and-pop baby clothes shop in Indianapolis. You can now target your ad to people who buy baby food and baby products and reach all 10,497,100 of them on Facebook. Cool, right? But, that’s a lot of people and total overkill for your small shop. So, you can limit that by location. You add in the filter for location (Indianapolis and 25 miles around it) and your number is now a manageable 30,700. These are real people who really want, need, and who buy baby products. Presto—a perfect, targeted audience for your Facebook ad.

And if you’re worried about privacy, Facebook emphasizes that its practice of not sharing users’ personal information with marketers or third parties will extend to this new offering.

In the end, the key to Facebook advertising is to know who your audience is and create a compelling ad that those folks want to click on. Use a high-quality photo that isn’t misleading and keep your copy short and smart. A highly targeted, ugly, spammy ad will do nothing to help your business and could actually hurt your reputation. Because as Peter Parker’s uncle would say, “With great power comes great responsibility.”