There’s no denying that when it comes to audience targeting, you can’t do much better than Facebook. From interests and hobbies to income and and education level, the world’s biggest social media platform has a dizzying array of targeting options.

Of course, with so many features available, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the tools that will have the greatest impact on your social media engagement—and your bottom line. One of the most commonly overlooked targeting tools? Facebook’s lookalike audiences.

When done right, lookalike audiences can dramatically improve your results by delivering your social media ads to new customers who share the same interests or demographic info as one of your custom-built audiences. In other words, lookalike audiences find the people who most closely match your current customers, because they’re the most likely to convert into paying customers themselves.

But how can you be sure that you’re using lookalike audiences effectively? The following tips will get you on the right track and help you reach the people who are most likely to convert.

1) Focus on Conversion

First, it helps to understand that you can build lookalike audiences from many sources. Facebook allows you to build custom audiences based on video views, your email subscribers, page likes and more. But if improving your bottom line is your ultimate goal, then your best option for your lookalike audience is to build a custom audience based on conversions.

To create a conversion-based lookalike audience, you’ll want to build a custom audience using the information of people who have visited your website, and then further refine it based on actions people have taken on your site. Selecting the “Custom Combination” menu under the website traffic heading allows you to base your audience off people who have made a purchase, initiated checkout, or become a lead.

By basing your lookalike audience off the people who have already generated leads and conversions, you’re more likely to find new customers who would share a similar level of interest in what you have to offer.

2) Just How Similar?

After you define your custom audience, the next step is to determine how similar you want your lookalike audience to be to that group. Facebook has you start by selecting a country or region for your lookalike audience before allowing you to choose the level of similarity.

Once you’ve selected your area (which even includes options like the North American Free Trade Agreement), you are given the option to choose an audience size ranging from one to 10% of the region’s population. At 1%, you get the individuals who most closely match your custom audience. Larger percentages give you access to a larger audience, but your content may not be as relevant to them.

Because of this, it’s generally recommended that you start with the smaller 1% audience group. As ad frequency increases, expand your audience to 2%. In general, you will probably want to avoid targeting 10% unless your lookalike audience targets a country with a relatively small population.

3) Refine Interests

It’s worth noting that even at 1% similarity, many lookalike audiences are still extremely large. That 1% is in reference to the entire population of the country or region you’re targeting—and in a large, digitally-active country like the United States, that means your lookalike audience could number in the millions.

For many marketers, this is too broad of an audience spectrum to really deliver the actionable results they need. Thankfully, Facebook allows you to further narrow your lookalike audience with the addition of detailed targeting. With detailed targeting, you can select specific brands or blogs to narrow your focus so that your ads reach those who are similar to your custom audience and like certain pages.

If actively targeting new customers, be sure that your new ad campaign excludes people who have visited your website in the past (even if they’re being used as the basis for your lookalike audience).

However, you don’t want to narrow the size of your target audience too much, as this could result in an unproductively small audience. Instead, choose a wide variety of relevant smaller audiences so you can achieve better reach.

4) Converting Copy

As with any other Facebook marketing effort, you can’t assume that great targeting is going to accomplish your goals on its own. The right images and copy are still essential if you wish to generate real results from your lookalike audiences.

When writing copy for your lookalike ad campaign, remember that it should be based on your overall campaign goals. Trying to drive sales for your e-commerce store? Then use a sense of urgency or highlight customer testimonials to encourage a purchase. Looking to build your email list to increase your number of leads? Highlight the benefits of signing up for a free, no-obligation knowledge blast from your brand.

When your ad copy matches your campaign goals, your lookalike audience is far more likely to take the actions you desire.

5) Analyze Results

We can’t talk about a Facebook marketing campaign without discussing the importance of your analytics. When managing a lookalike audience, Facebook provides clear information regarding conversion volume, cost per acquisition (CPA), and other vital campaign statistics.

Ultimately, much of the success of your lookalike audience campaigns will hinge on whether or not you can achieve your desired levels of conversion at a low CPA. For most Facebook marketers, this will require testing multiple lookalike audiences, or potentially testing different audience sizes.

You might find that 1% and 2% groups deliver similar results, but that by expanding to a 3% or 4% audience size that your CPA increases too much to be truly efficient. A/B testing different ad copy can also make a big difference for your lookalike audience results.

By continually testing your lookalike campaigns and analyzing the results, you’ll be in a better position to fine-tune your advertising efforts and achieve a greater return on investment.


By effectively using Facebook lookalike audiences for your social media ads, you put your brand in a better position to increase followers, leads and actual sales. Best of all, you’ll be able to accomplish your social media marketing goals much more quickly and effectively, making better use of your Facebook advertising budget and improving your bottom line.

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