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How to Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences [2024 Guide]

Facebook lookalike audiences can help you find your best customers. We’ve got tips and best practices to create them for your Facebook ads.

Sara Nguyen December 15, 2022
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Facebook Lookalike Audiences is a sophisticated matchmaker between your brand and new fans — and a powerful advertising tool. You tell Facebook the characteristics of your favorite customers, and Facebook recommends a new target audience filled with prospects that meet your criteria.

Ready to find the audience of your dreams? Read on to learn how to create a Lookalike Audience for your Facebook ads, plus tips that will help you find the best match.

Bonus: Get the Facebook advertising cheat sheet for 2022. The free resource includes key audience insights, recommended ad types, and tips for success.

What is a lookalike audience on Facebook?

A Facebook Lookalike Audience is a custom advertising audience that can be used to reach people similar to your current customers.

How are Facebook Lookalike Audiences created?

Facebook’s advertising system takes an existing audience, identifies its key characteristics (like behavior and interests), and then finds similar audiences sharing those traits.

You can pair Lookalike Audiences with other ad targeting parameters, such as age and gender or interests and behaviors.

Benefits of Facebook Lookalike Audiences

People in a Lookalike Audience are more likely to engage with your content than the general public, which makes this type of ad targeting particularly valuable. Here are other reasons to choose Lookalike Audiences over other types of ad targeting on Facebook:

  • Easier to find high-quality leads. You can reach new people outside of your customer list with Lookalike Audiences. But not just any person on Facebook – you are specifically targeting people who share similar characteristics to your top customers. This means they are more likely to be interested in your ad.
  • More value on ad spend. Experimentation is necessary for social media ads, but no one wants to spend more money to find their top-performing ad. With Lookalike Audiences, you can test multiple audiences at once without needing to create several campaigns.
  • Saves you time. Lookalike Audiences make it easy to find audiences interested in your ad without additional work on your end. If you already have an existing audience, then you can use it to find Lookalike Audiences.

How to use Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Before you even begin creating a Facebook Lookalike Audience, you’ll need to create a Custom Audience first. Then Facebook will use the Custom Audience to create your personalized Lookalike Audience.

The steps to create a Custom Audience will depend on the source. (But don’t worry, we have a full guide on how to create a Custom Audience).

These are the basic steps to create a Custom Audience:

Step 1: Prepare your customer list in advance by creating a CSV or TXT file. You may also want to install Meta Pixel on your website to track visitors.

Step 2: Go to Audiences within your Ad Manager.

Step 3: Choose a Custom Audience source. Your options include website, app activity, catalog, customer list, and offline activity.

Step 4: Follow the instructions to create your Custom Audience based on the source you chose in Step 3.

Once you’ve created your Custom Audience, you can use it to set up a Lookalike Audience. Here are the steps to create a Facebook Lookalike Audience:

Step 1: Select Create a Lookalike Audience within the Ad Manager.

Create a Lookalike Audience

Step 2: Choose your source. Remember, this will be a custom audience you’ve created from customer information, Pixel or app data, or fans of your page. You can also create a new source at this point.

select custom audience

Note: Your source audiences need to contain at least 100 people from the same country. Facebook also generally recommends a source audience that has between 1,000-5,000 people, but high-quality sources take priority.

Step 3: Select the countries or regions you would like to find a similar group of people. The areas you choose will determine where people in your Lookalike Audience are based, essentially adding a geo-filter onto your Lookalike Audience.

audience location

Note: You don’t have to have anyone from the country you want to target in your source.

Step 4: Choose your desired audience size with the slide. Size is expressed on a scale of 1-10. Smaller numbers have a high similarity to your source audience. Meanwhile, larger numbers have higher reach but less similar characteristics. Facebook will provide you with an estimated reach for the size you choose.

You can also create multiple Lookalike Audiences with different levels of similarity to your source.

select audience size

Step 5: Click Create Audience. And you’re all set! It can take between six and 24 hours for your Lookalike Audience to be finished.

How to set up a Facebook Lookalike Audience in Hootsuite

Facebook’s Ad Manager can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. To keep things simple, manage your Facebook ads alongside all of your organic content in Hootsuite.

Here’s how to create a simple Lookalike Audience in Hootsuite Social Advertising.

  1. Sign in to your Hootsuite dashboard and select Advertise in the menu on the left side of the screen.
  2. Go to Advanced Audiences.
  3. Click the Add an Advanced Audience button in the top right corner of the screen
  4. Select Target people similar to existing customers and follow the prompts to complete the process.
  5. Select the ad account you want to use with this audience.

new advanced audience

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Note: Hootsuite Social Advertising is only available to Enterprise plan users.

4 tips for optimizing Facebook Lookalike Audiences

1. Choose high-quality sources

It can be tempting to put every customer you have into your source audience. Larger audiences are the best, right? Not really.

Lookalike Audiences more similar to their source audience tend to be more valuable. However, the results can vary dramatically depending on the quality of your audience.

For example, you may want to put your entire email subscriber list to find a Lookalike Audience. But it won’t necessarily translate into sales if most of your email subscribers don’t purchase or even open your emails. Instead, you would create a higher quality Lookalike Audience if you only put active email subscribers as your source audience.

Essentially, you want to focus on your best customers for your source audience to yield the best results.

2. Optimize bids with A/B testing

You can create multiple Lookalike Audiences with ranging similarities to your source audience. This is a strategic method to find your most effective audience.

To begin, you should do A/B testing. Target the same ad to each of your Lookalike Audiences with initial bids.

You can evaluate how well the ad did based on metrics like revenue per conversion or the lifetime value of each audience.

Once you’ve analyzed what is your best-performing Lookalike Audience, you can modify your bids for each audience. You can start bidding more for valuable audiences and less for lower-performing audiences.

It’s a win-win because you can stretch your social media ad budget for your more effective audiences while ensuring you are reaching your ideal customer.

3. Use Lookalike Audiences in combination with other parameters

Enhance your lookalike audience targeting by adding more targeting parameters such as age, gender, or interests.

4. Get creative with your source audience

You can create custom audiences around a variety of parameters. Start by evaluating your campaign goals, and then drill down to the most relevant audience options.

Ideas for source audience include:

  • Video audience: If you’re launching a video-based campaign, create an audience based on people who have engaged with your videos in the past.
  • Recent website visitors: All website visitors may be too broad of a list, especially if conversions are your objective. Target people who have visited your website in the past 30 days, or visitors who have put something in their cart.
  • Email audience: Newsletter subscribers are interested in receiving news and deals about your business. Use this audience to get more subscribers, or if you’re planning a campaign with similar content.

FAQs about Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Are lookalike audiences effective in 2022?

Lookalike Audiences are still effective in 2022, but you may notice a slight decrease in results. Since the Apple iOS 14.5 privacy update, users must now opt-in to data sharing. Only 25% of users have opted in. While it does have an impact on ad results, you can still reach your ideal customers with Lookalike Audiences.

What is the difference between a custom audience and a lookalike audience?

The difference between a Custom Audience and a Lookalike Audience is based on if there is a pre-existing relationship or not. A Custom Audience is based on people who already have a relationship with your business, while Lookalike Audiences are people who share characteristics with your Custom Audience but don’t know about your brand.

How many people do you need for a lookalike audience?

You need at least 100 people for a Lookalike Audience as long as they are all from the same country. If your source audience is based in multiple countries, you need at least 100 people from the same country to use it as a Lookalike Audience. Facebook generally recommends a source audience between 1,000-5,000 people.

How long does it take a lookalike audience to populate?

It takes between six and 24 hours for your Lookalike Audience to populate. Once your lookalike audience is created, it will appear as Ready in the Availability column. As long as your targeting ads with that specific lookalike audience, it will refresh every 3-7 days.

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By Sara Nguyen

Sara J. Nguyen is a freelance writer specializing in cybersecurity and marketing. Her educational background in public relations helps her work closely with companies to provide informative and engaging content for their audience. When she's not writing, you can find her planning her next international trip

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