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It still surprises me how few people know about this targeting option within Facebook ads manger, yet for me it is one of the most effective ways to target Facebook users.

What is a lookalike audience? 

A lookalike audience is an audience that is similar in interests and demographics to your current audience / customers / website visitors / email list, whoever it is that is most important to you. Creating a lookalike audience takes away the guess work that can occur when targeting generic ‘interests’ (which is the most common targeting method with Facebook advertisers). The problem with targeting generic interests of your customers is that it is likely that every other advertiser is doing the same thing (so a lot of the interest categories are going to be highly competitive and not very effective).

For example if you are targeting small business owners by selecting generic interests such as ‘entrepreneur, ‘startups’, ‘Richard Branson’ you may find this unsuccessful as it is likely that every other advertiser in that industry is doing exactly the same thing. You then will end up having a very broad audience that lots of other advertisers are bidding on, which will make yours ads more expensive.

Because Facebook creates lookalikes audiences for you (and use data about people’s Facebook activity that we do not have access to) it makes this option a much more advanced targeting option.

You can create a lookalike audience within Facebook Ads Manger however first you need to upload / create an already existing audience for you to create the lookalike audience from. This audience is called a ‘custom audience’. For example, if you have an email list of your customers you can create a ‘custom audience’ within ads manager by uploading that list. You can then create a lookalike audience from that custom audience.

Step 1 – Create your custom audience

A custom audience can be:

  • Email List
  • Website Visitors
  • App activity

To create your custom audience go to your Facebook ads manager, then select ‘Tools’ > ‘Audiences’ > ‘Create Audience’ > ‘Custom Audience’. You will then see the 3 options below:

facebook ads manager customer audiences

  • If you have an email list you can upload it as a .csv file by selecting ‘customer list’. You will then be able to target the people on this email list within Facebook as well as creating a lookalike audience from it and targeting that too.
  • If you want to target your website visitors in Facebook, before selecting the ‘website traffic’ option at this stage, you will need to setup your Facebook website pixel in advance. You can do this by selecting ‘Tools’ > ‘Pixels’ from your ads manager dashboard. Once your pixel is created and added to your website you can then come back and create your custom audience here.
  • Finally you have the option to create an audience from people who take specific actions on your app.

Step 2 – Create your lookalike audience

Once you have created a custom audience you can now create a lookalike audience. To create a lookalike audience select ‘Tools’ > ‘Audiences’ > ‘Create Audience’ > ‘Lookalike Audience’.

creating a lookalike audience in ads manager

  • Select your chosen custom audience from ‘source’
  • Select the country that you want to target
  • Select the % of the population you want to target. The lower the % the closer the lookalike audience will be to your custom audience. If you have a product with a high consumer demand then you may be able to get away with targeting a higher percentage. If you have a niche product or a business to business product then I would stick creating an audience from 1% of the population.

Congratulations – you have created your first lookalike audience!

You can now boost your Page posts to this audience and target your Facebook advertising campaigns at this audience.

Happy advertising! :)

Any questions – comment below.

Facebook Advertising: Lookalike Audiences 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote
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That Social Media Girl

That Social Media Girl lives and breathes social media. She is based in London. Tweet her at @TSMGirlLondon.