How to Target Facebook Ads: Go Pro with Lookalike Audiences

Yo! This is the first in a series of posts that focus on advanced targeting tactics for your Facebook ads. In this post you’ll learn:

  1. What Lookalike Audiences are
  2. How to create them, and
  3. How to use them in conjunction with basic targeting best practices.

Check out the second and third posts for more on Website Custom Audiences and mixing them all together.

For awhile, the best thing about Facebook ads was the interest targeting – you could show your ads specifically to the fans of lots of Facebook pages. Thanks to some changes Facebook rolled out last year, interest targeting has actually become less powerful.

But wait! There’s good news: one way to combat this problem is by using Lookalike Audiences.

What is a Lookalike Audience?

A Lookalike Audience is a group of users that Facebook culls together because they seem “similar” to another group you’ve indicated.

For example, you have a list of subscribers, people who who have shown an interest in your business or at least in some of your free content. Another group could be the people who have actually paid you for your products or services – you can be pretty certain those people like you quite a bit.

You upload a list of those people’s email address and Facebook tries to find users connected to those addresses. They pull info about those users – demographics, interests, behaviors on Facebook – and then find other users who are similar to them.

Those similar users end up in your Lookalike Audience.

How to Create a Lookalike Audience:

1. You need to start with a Custom Audience in order to create a Lookalike Audience. More on how (and why!) to get Custom Audiences set up here, or you can watch the video below.

2. Once you have a custom Audience, you’ll use it as your Source for your Lookalike Audience.

IMPORTANT NOTE: you can only include one country per Lookalike Audience. If you want to create one for the U.S. and one for Canada, you’ll have to create two different ones. Nothing wrong with that, by the way – it’s actually a very smart move.

Watch this video for a complete tutorial on creating your Lookalike Audience:

3. Wait for Facebook to finish culling together all those lovely people who are similar to your subscribers or customers or whichever group of people you uploaded.

Ta-Da! Your Lookalike Audience is ready to rumble…a.k.a. ready to be used as part of your target audience.

How to Use a Lookalike Audience Like the Smart and Savvy Advertiser You Are

If you’ve already created your Lookalike Audience, then you’ll notice that it’s probably more than a million people! That’s waaaaay too big for your ads’ target audience. I know, it would be wonderful if Facebook really had the ability to deliver us a group of our ideal customers on a silver platter, but we’re talking algorithms here, not magic. Whenever you have an audience that size, you’re guaranteed to be reaching the wrong people. Remember: too big = too broad.

So how do you filter out the wrong people who somehow ended up in your Lookalike Audience? By using the basics of Facebook ad targeting. You’ll add your Lookalike Audience under “Custom Audiences” and then you’ll go about choosing your demographics and interests like you normally would.

Adding a Lookalike Audience to Your Facebook Ads targeting

Watch the size of your audience go down with each filter you add in. If it gets below 10,000 people, I suggest you backtrack a little. I try to keep my target audience above 10,000 but below 100,000. (200,000 is my absolute maximum, but still high).

Quick heads up:When you add your first interest to a Lookalike Audience, the size of your audience will shoot down. With each additional interest you add, it’ll climb up and up again.

And that’s it! You’ve just created a Lookalike Audience and incorporated it into your targeting.

Questions? I’m kinda addicted to problem solving so hit me up in the comments below! I’ll get you sorted. :)