How to Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences the Right Way

How to Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences the Right Way

Wish you could take the guesswork out of targeting your social ads?

Do not we all do this.

Sure, it’s great that marketers have so many choices when it comes to our Facebook advertising strategy and who we deliver our ads to.

However, navigating through the myriad of targeting options and factors can be downright daunting.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences is a game changer here.

Instead of starting each campaign from scratch or tweaking a number of targeting factors, Lookalike Audiences lets you base new ads on your existing audience.

The result? More engagement and conversions with much fewer rates.

This guide explains the basics of Facebook Lookalike Audiences and the information marketers need to know to get started.

What is a lookalike audience anyway?

Facebook Lookalike Audiences are an ad targeting option for a whole new audience that shares traits with your existing ones based on previous engagements with your business account or ads.

The concept here is simple. Instead of manually searching for a new audience, Facebook finds out who is most likely to click through your campaigns on your behalf. This is determined by factors such as interests, interactions (e.g. “likes”, comments, shares) and previous ad clicks.

While Lookalike Audiences are great for marketers who have successfully served ads in the past, they’re a fair game for newbies as well. That’s because Facebook lets you create lookalike audiences based on the following criteria:

  • People who like and follow your company page
  • Conversion pixels that you have created in the past
  • Existing custom audiences

Not only does this format provide more precise targeting by default, it also provides more experienced advertisers with customization options and flexibility. For example, you can expand your lookalike audience to your liking or keep new ad goals almost identical to your own.

Last but not least, Facebook does a pretty good job of holding hands with marketers while creating a lookalike audience to make sure they’re relevant. After all, this is in the best interests of the platform.

Why should you use Facebook Lookalike Audiences versus other ad formats?

Here, too, there are numerous ad formats to choose from on Facebook. What makes the lookalike audience so special?

Below are some of the key benefits:

  • They will save you a lot of time. If you’ve already fine-tuned a custom audience, you’ve done the hard part. Lookalike audiences can help you get more out of what you’ve already set up.
  • In theory, Lookalike Audiences are “proven” compared to something cold. That’s because they’re based on parameters that show the user’s interest.
  • Lookalike Audiences can easily complement your existing ads. To stretch your social media budget, you can experiment with Lookalike Audiences and target multiple audiences at the same time without running completely different campaigns.

For which scenarios are Facebook Lookalike Audience Ads ideal?

Good question. Let’s look at some of the most common scenarios for reference:

  • You are interested in getting a new audience. Suppose you want to reach a previously undeveloped population group. With a lookalike audience, you can expand your targeting without getting completely out of hand when it comes to interests.
  • Your existing ad target group is no longer as engaging as it used to be. If you suspect that you have exhausted your customers the way they are, or your base is too small, these types of ads can help you test the water.
  • You want to compare two different target groups. Again, Lookalike Audiences can complement any of your current ads. A performance comparison can open your eyes to new possibilities without breaking your budget.

What do lookalike audience ads look like in action?

In reality, Lookalike Audiences-based ads are similar to any other successful Facebook campaign in terms of creatives.

Here are a few examples from Facebook’s own ad success stories showing how such ads can be used, using the same scenarios we discussed earlier.

This Ad from Teaching Company shows how Lookalike Audiences can be used to explore new ad goals related to geography. For this campaign, the company took an ad for the US only and served it in Canada, UK and Australia based on their best clients. The end result was a 10x increase in monthly average subscriptions to their service.

Here is another example from Shipt. For this ad, the brand created multiple lookalike audiences based on current and past customers. This is another great example of how effective targeting can be based on your existing audience.

Ships Facebook Lookalike Audienes Ad

This OLIPOP campaign included lookalike audiences of top shoppers as part of a budget experiment to see if higher spending resulted in falling income. The brand found that increasing their efforts resulted in a significant increase in conversions and add-to-cart events.

OLIPOP Facebook lookalike target group display

How to create a lookalike audience on Facebook

For example, let’s say you want to assemble your first lookalike audience.

Excellent! First things first, sign in to your Facebook Ads Manager account. In the left corner you will see the “Create Audience” drop-down menu.

Create a Facebook-like audience in the Ad Manager

Again, the platform makes the build process pretty easy, but the number of options to choose from can be overwhelming. The breakdown below can help speed things up.

1. Choose your audience source

Right from the start, you have the options we talked about earlier: Pages, Facebook Pixels, or an existing custom audience.

Facebook lookalike audience chooses Quelle

Facebook recommends the use of “Events with Value” (AKA value-based sources). This is because such targeting is based on actual purchase data from previous customers. For example, if you create a lookalike audience based on a remarketing pixel, you can base your campaigns on goals with higher (or lower) average order values.

Facebook Lookalike Ads Marketing Pixels

If you decide to use a custom audience as a source, you should familiarize yourself with the various options available for targeting Facebook ads. For example, you can upload a list of customers or base your lookalike audience on people who have interacted with your website.

Facebook custom audience creation

2. Choose your audience location

No big surprises here. Once you’ve chosen a source, you’ll be prompted to choose a region for your lookalike audience.

Again, this is helpful if you are into international marketing or want to experiment with it. This selection allows you to find relevant ad targets based on geography.

Selection of the Facebook lookalike target group region

3. Determine your audience size

Ultimately, you have a choice of how “similar” your lookalike audience is.

The smaller the percentage here, the more similar your audience will be to your source audience. On the other hand, having more numbers makes your audience wider.

Facebook lookalike audience likeness

Whether you want a very similar audience or a larger one really depends on your goals and budget. As with any form of Facebook ad targeting, a little experimentation is enough.

Note: Lookalike audience specifications and requirements

Before you are allowed to create your audience, there are a few parameters you need to familiarize yourself with. While Facebook prompts you for some of these questions, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Your target group size must be at least 100 people from the same country
  • Facebook recommends between 1,000 and 50,000 of your “best” customers based on lifetime value, order size, or commitment to an optimal lookalike audience
  • It can take anywhere from six to 24 hours to actually create your audience

What can my Facebook lookalike campaigns teach me?

As with any other type of ad data, you should look at the performance of your lookalike audience and your KPIs.

If your campaigns are doing similar or significantly better than your previous ones, you’ve come to the right place. If not, there are some tweaks you can consider (remember: pull back or increase your audience size, experiment with custom audiences versus pixels, etc.).

Either way, make sure to keep an eye on your metrics. You should also evaluate not only how your ads compare against each other, but also how your paid performance compares to your organic social posts.

With tools like Sprout Social, you can use our paid ads reports and analytics to do just that. Having a holistic view of your Facebook presence will help you better manage your budget in terms of time and resources.

Facebook ad reporting in Sprout Social

Are you taking full advantage of the Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

Lookalike audiences are an invaluable tool for social marketers.

As with any other type of ad, it can take some time to master. However, they are worth following to experiment and reach new audiences.

Now that you know how to create a lookalike audience on Facebook, it may be time to consider how such ads fit into your paid social media strategy.

And if you need a bigger budget to expand your campaigns, you’ve come to the right place. Be sure to check out our guide on building a social media business case to get the buy-in you need to run a new campaign.