I love building audiences in Facebook. Mainly, because Facebook offers so many amazing ways to find the best audiences on their platforms. You can target my demographic information like age, sex, and location… but they also have thousands of targeting segments based on a variety of interests, behaviors, and other demographics. It can be a bit overwhelming the first time you go to build an audience. Trying to decide what segments of people to include in your target audience – the really cool thing is, that if you have existing data, Facebook will do all the work for you… automatically! In this article we'll explore Facebook Lookalike Audiences. What they are, how you build them, and why you should test them as a part of your Facebook Marketing Strategy!
How does Facebook create a Lookalike Audience
Facebook creates a lookalike audience by analyzing a source audience to discover what things those people all have in common. They will look at over 2,000 markers in an attempt to identify what makes your source audience similar. Then, Facebook will take those common characteristics and scale them out to find a segment of the population that also shares those common characteristics.
It's important to remember that your Lookalike audience will only be as strong as your Source Audience. I never recommend buying a list of email addresses to use, or using a list built by anyone other than yourself. You will also want to have at least 1,000 people in your source audience. Facebook will allow you to use a source audience of as few as 100 people, but bigger numbers increase the likelihood that the data will be relevant, so my recommendation is at least 1,000.
You can use the following audiences as a source audience:
- Your Page Fans
- A custom list of email addresses (these can be uploaded right into Facebook)
- People who have engaged with your Facebook Page
- People who have watched videos you posted to your Facebook Page
- People who have opened and/or submitted Lead Forms on Facebook
- People who have engaged with your Instagram profile
- People who have visited all/certain Pages on your website.
Which Source Audience is the Best for your Lookalike Audience
Determining which source audience is the best, really depends on your goals and objectives. If you are looking to build your mailing list, and you already have a list of at least 1,000 quality subscribers – then I would suggest that using that as your source audience would be best.
If you are looking for people to purchase items from your eCommerce store – and you have an audience of 1000 people who have reached the thank-you page on your website (indicating that they have purchased), then that would be the strongest audience to use in that case.
So, think about what your objective is from this specific campaign – and then determine whether you have an existing audience of people who have done that exact thing in the past. If you do – this would be a great source audience for building a Lookalike Audience.
How do you build a Lookalike Audience on Facebook
To build an audience on Facebook you need to go to the Audiences Dashboard. The link you should use will depend on whether you are using Business Manager to organize your assets, or not.
- If you are NOT using Business Manager, go to: https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/audiences/
- If you ARE using Business Manager, go to: https://business.facebook.com/ads/manager/audiences/
The first step is to select the checkbox next to the source audience that you want to use.
If you do not have your source audience created yet, you should do that first by clicking on the blue “Create Audience” button at the upper left. From there you can select the “custom audience” option, and then the choice that fits your needs. You will most likely be choosing one of the following:
- Customer File – you can upload a list of email addresses if you want to target your existing mailing list
- Website Traffic – if you have Pixel installed you can target people who have visited your website
- Engagement – this is where you will find people who have engaged with you on Facebook and/or Instagram including video views, and lead form open/submissions
Follow the step-by-step directions and allow the audience to pupulate – then check the box next to it like in the image above!
Once you have checked the box next to the audience you want to use for your source audience (it MUST be a custom audience, not a saved audience), click on the “actions” button and then select “create Lookalike.”
After clicking on “Lookalike Audience” a popup will appear. You will confirm the source audience, then input the locations in which you would like to target. You can include only one country, or multiple countries as I've shown below. If you are only interested in targeting a smaller geographical area (such as a state as opposed to the entire country) you will need to create a country-wide lookalike and then geo-target the location more precisely in your Ad Set.
Under the Location selection area, you will see that you have the ability to choose your audience size. The slider allows you to choose a number between 1-10. These numbers represent the percentage of the population that you want to target. Based on the information above, I have indicated that I would like Facebook to find the top 1% of the population in the UK, US, CA & Aus, that has the most in common with people who have engaged with this Facebook Page in the past year. Facebook is telling me that there will be approximately 2.9M people in that audience.
If you are targeting entire countries, a 1% audience is typically all that you will need. The ideal audience size for prospecting is 1-5 million people, so this is perfect. If however, you are only interested in targeting a local area – say, 50-miles of Phoenix, AZ – then you will want to create a 10% Lookalike, so that when you drill down the geo-targeting at the Ad Set level of creating your ad, you will still have a good sized audience to target.
That's it! Easy Peasy! Just click the blue “create audience” button (it's cut off of my screen shot – but it's there on the lower right!). Custom and Lookalike audiences can take up to 24 hours to fully populate, so give it a little time to work it's magic!
Do they really work?
When it comes to Facebook Ads, nothing is a sure bet. I always recommend testing things out! I have seen great success among my clients leveraging Lookalike Ads. It's far easier to allow Facebook to analyze the audience and leverage that data to find more people that are similar to your ideal audience – than to go into the Facebook interest targeting options and accurately find all of those same people. Go ahead and test it out! Run a campaign with 2 ad sets. In one Ad Set, you a Lookalike Audience and in the other Ad Set use interest-based targeting… then give them each the same budget, and the same Ads, and see what works best!
Meg Brunson has been marketing to moms for over 7 years. She is the founder and CEO of EIEIO Marketing, a digital marketing agency focused on Facebook Marketing for family-focused businesses.
Meg is also a former Facebook employee with a passion for helping bootstrapped businesses figure out Facebook so that they can promote like the pros! She left the 9-5 in 2017, so that she could be the mom she wanted to be to her 4 young daughters.
After helping her daughter launch her first business, Storytime With Kiki, at the age of 10, Meg began hosting the FamilyPreneur Podcast: an interview-style podcast for parent entrepreneurs, raising entrepreneurial children.