Facebook Ads Manager puts an incredibly rich data set at the fingertips of advertisers, giving you access to all of the demographic, interest, and behaviour based information it collects on its nearly 3 billion active users worldwide. If you have a good idea of your target audience - and hopefully you do - Facebook makes it simple to get your message in front of them quickly.

In addition to leveraging Facebook’s own data, you can also upload and use your own customer data to target your advertising to Custom Audiences. And here’s where Facebook Ads Manager gets really powerful - you can combine Facebook’s data with your own to create Lookalike Audiences.

What Are Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

In the words of Facebook itself, “A Lookalike Audience is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they're similar to your best existing customers.”

The way lookalike audiences work is by analysing the custom audience you have uploaded into Facebook, creating a profile of your ‘type of customer’, and then finding other users that are similar in their user behaviour to your current customer.

To put it mildly, Facebook Lookalike Audiences are a hugely effective way of finding new users who are likely to be in your target market but have not yet engaged with your brand.

Are Lookalike Audiences Right For Me?

So far, you may think that Facebook Lookalike Audiences are a silver bullet for all of your audience targeting troubles. And that could be the case. However, as with any audience strategy, lookalikes are not a “one size fits all” situation.

While they can be game-changing for some businesses, the suitability of lookalike audiences must be assessed on a case by case basis.

For example, if you’re advertising an ethical clothing brand, and want to use lookalike audiences to reach new customers, it’s reasonable to assume that Person A and Person B, who both show traits of living an environmentally friendly lifestyle and both frequently shop for clothes online, are likely to share certain characteristics and be interested in your products.

At the same time, law firms are likely to find that demographic and interest similarities are unlikely to correlate particularly closely with unhappy marriages and a requirement for a divorce solicitor. So, proceed with caution.

4 Tips For Successful Facebook Lookalike Audiences

If you’ve made it this far you likely fit into the former of the examples above, and are interested in using lookalike audiences to better target your ideal customers on Facebook.

Of course, getting the most out of this functionality is more complicated than simply uploading a list, selecting a few characteristics and hitting “go”. Below, you’ll find four best practice tips to get the most out of Facebook Lookalike Audiences.

1. Select Your Audiences Wisely

Your lookalike audience is only as valuable as your custom audience - your seed audience - so choose wisely. Perhaps you want a lookalike of your average customer, so basing this on all current customers would be an effective approach.

However, you can be more tactical than that. Consider building value-based seed audiences to ensure you’re only reaching those with similar characteristics to your high-value customers, thus increasing AOV and, therefore, campaign efficiency.

Additionally, further analysis of your existing customers’ behaviour will give you an understanding of who your most valuable customers are, based on factors like product category or purchase frequency.

2. Segment Based on Campaign Objectives

Consider segmenting your seed audiences by behaviour type, based on your campaign objectives. As long as your audiences are large enough, it is recommended to segment your seed by factors such as customer info, site visitors, app activity, engagement or offline activity. This allows you to be more strategic with your planning and drive a higher quality of traffic.

3. Keep Your Audience List Up To Date

Ensure your seed audience list is updated on a regular basis, not only to keep your lookalikes relevant but also to avoid any overlap for those who move from the prospective pool to becoming a current customer.

4. Test Your Audience Sizes

When building your lookalikes, you have control over the size and similarity of your audiences. Based on a percentage figure, choose a value between 1% and 10%, representative of the combined population within your selected locations. A 1% lookalike audience consists of users who are most similar to your seed audience, and as this percentage increases, the audience size grows and becomes broader.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve a strong customer dataset, Facebook Lookalike Audiences provides an incredibly powerful way to target potential new customers with characteristics that make them likely to purchase your product or services.

As with any audience strategy, there are some pitfalls to consider when using lookalike audiences and not being aware of them may result in wasted spend, a confusing user journey, or campaigns that aren’t as efficient as they should be.

However, if you’re up for using lookalike audiences properly and following our best practice advice - and if you’re advertising a business that can benefit from sophisticated audience strategies of this type - then you absolutely should be.