We have talked about Facebook’s custom audiences in the past, a tool which enables you to upload a list of specific individuals as an audience for your Facebook Ads campaigns. Facebook’s lookalike audience takes this feature a step further to help you find new users that are similar to those you have already successfully established a relationship with.
Lookalike audiences pulls all of the demographics and specifications from your custom audience, and then targets new users with those qualifications.
Where your custom audience puts you in contact with people you already know, lookalike audiences put you in contact with a new audience identical to those who already have proven to be a good target for your business and your ads.
You are targeting new individuals to fit within an audience that has already proven profitable, expanding it further.
Creating a lookalike audience off of a custom audience that has already proven to be profitable increases the chances of success with your targeting efforts with Facebook Ads, boosting your chance of success with your overall campaign. You can also now create lookalike audiences off fans on your Page or off of website visitors (found with a conversion tracking pixel). This is the same idea, connecting you with new users that are similar to the target audience you already have a rapport with. This is a great way to target new users for your business.
How to Create a Lookalike Audience
The first step in the process of making a lookalike audience is to create the audience you want to replicate. You can see how to make a custom audience—or a custom audience from a website— in our guide here.
If you are going in through Power Editor, click on the Audience tab, which can be found in the navigation bar on the left side of the screen.
From the Audience screen, select “Create an Audience,” and choose “Lookalike Audience” from the options of audiences to create.
Power Editor prompts you to “reach new people similar to an audience you care about.” You can choose to create a lookalike audience based on your Page, a conversion tracking pixel, or an already created custom audience. For this example, we’re going to create a lookalike audience based off our Page.
You are required to select a country for your lookalike audience, as lookalike audiences can only include people from one country at a time (you can use Power Editor to easily create more lookalike audiences for different countries later).
You then decide how much you’d prefer to prioritize similarity over reach, or vice versa. There is a sliding bar, so you don’t have to choose one or the other, letting you accomplish both on some level.
Audiences that are more optimized for similarity will be closer to being identical to your source audience (instead of kind of, sort of like them), while optimizing for reach offer much larger potential audiences. If you have a very specific niche, staying more optimized for similarity is probably a good idea.
As you adjust this sliding bar, Facebook shows you how many potential members of that audience there are.
On the screen showing your Audiences, your lookalike audiences will appear under those they were created from. If you choose, you can then get into your audience to edit it.
You can either create an ad and choose this audience later, or you can click “Create Ad Using Audience” to take you right into the screen to make an ad just for that audience.
If you choose not to use Power Editor, and you can create a lookalike audience through the Ads Manager. Click on the “audiences” button on the left side navigation. Hit “Create Audience” at the top of the screen, and select “lookalike audience.”
Fill in the information, just as you would have through Power Editor.
Your new audience will show up in your Ads Manager (though it will not show up as a branch off of another audience as it does in Power Editor).
When to Use a Lookalike Audience
One question I’ve heard asked is this: if lookalike audiences are replicating current customers, why target them with ads instead of the customers?
Yes, using custom audiences to advertise to a list of specific individuals—whether off your page, your e-mail list, or a list of users who have visited your website—provides great opportunities for highly targeted ads, part of the reason you use the ad system sometimes is to find new customers so your business can grow.
Lookalike audiences gives you this opportunity to target new business. While Facebook’s targeting system is incredible, lookalike audiences makes your targeting recreation simpler and more accurate. Facebook targets users for you that are extremely similar to the ones already following your page, looking at your website, and making purchases from you. You get to target more people most likely to do that, and you can get choose whether you want to focus on similarities or numbers (reach).
Creating lookalike audience also gives you the benefit of predicting what they may respond to best in terms of your ads. When creating multiple audiences to target different groups, you may not know what works best for each niche. With target audiences, however, not only can you have an easier time predicting what they might respond to, you can actually take what you learned with past campaigns (and their original audience) to decide what will perform well.
Lookalike audiences is an incredibly useful tool, and it’s a feature we’ve used frequently, and we will continue to do so.