Facebook Lookalike Audiences: Target Users Similar to Your Customers

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A week ago, Facebook announced that they were rolling out a new feature called Lookalike Audiences to advertisers using Power Editor.

A week later, I have it. I’m excited. This could be big.

The purpose of this post is to explain what Lookalike Audiences are, how they could be effective and how you can create them.

What Are Lookalike Audiences?

You may be aware of a Facebook advertising feature called Custom Audiences. With this tool, you can upload your customer lists (email addresses, phone numbers or Facebook UIDs) to target these users in Facebook ads.

This is a significantly powerful tool since it allows advertisers to target users who may have previously proven to purchase from them in the past. If the lists were well segmented, it also allowed for extremely targeted ad opportunities.

Enter Lookalike Audiences.

According to Facebook:

Lookalike audiences help you reach people who are similar to your current customers for fan acquisition, site registration, off-Facebook purchases, coupon claims and brand awareness.

Facebook analyzes your Custom Audience list and creates a new segment that is optimized based on either similarity or reach.

How Are They Useful?

While Custom Audiences tend to be extremely effective since they allow marketers to create highly relevant Facebook ads, effectiveness of such ads can be short-lived since the composition of that list tends to change slowly.

For example, you could target your email list in an ad campaign with the goal of increasing your Facebook Page Likes. Eventually, the people who have not yet liked your Page probably never will.

You’ve exhausted that list, and Lookalike Audiences allows you to expand that list to reach more — and similar — users who will have similar interests.

InsideFacebook.com reported that a travel site boasts 70 percent lower costs per action using Lookalike Audiences while an online shopping site saw 94 percent lower costs per checkout.

Interested? I know I am. My email list is still rather modest, so this could be hugely useful for me.

I’ve already created my Lookalike Audiences, but I’ve only begun to use them. I will report back with results later.

In the meantime, here’s how you can create and test your own.

How to Create Lookalike Audiences

Creating a Lookalike Audience is incredibly easy. I assume you’ve already created a Custom Audience. If you haven’t, read this first.

Click on the Audiences menu item on the left. Select the audience that will be the basis of your Lookalike Audience. Then click “Create Similar Audience.”

facebook similar audiences Facebook Lookalike Audiences: Target Users Similar to Your Customers

You can only target one country at a time, so you may need to create multiple Lookalike Audiences for multiple countries.

facebook create lookalike audience power editor Facebook Lookalike Audiences: Target Users Similar to Your Customers

When creating Lookalike Audiences, you can optimize for similarity or greater reach.

Optimize for Similarity: When you optimize for similarity, Facebook will find the people who are most similar to your existing Custom Audience. The estimated Reach of this new audience may be smaller, but it will be precise.

Optimize for Greater Reach: When you optimize for greater reach, Facebook will find more people who are similar to your existing Custom Audience but the match will be less precise.

Facebook says that targeting for greater reach includes the top 5% of users while optimizing for similarity includes only the top 1%. When you optimize for greater reach, that segment will include the list optimized for similarity.

Split Test!

As always, it’s best to split test like crazy to find what works best. The logical assumption is that optimizing for similarity will be more effective, but more expensive.

I created eight different Similar Audiences to work with. My readers fall into a sweet spot of four main countries, so I created Lookalike Audiences optimized for both greater reach and similarity for each country.

I’m going to then use those audiences as targets in ads for multiple purposes. I’ll report back soon with my results!

Your Turn

Try your own Lookalike Audiences. What results are you seeing? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer is a digital marketing consultant with a unique perspective on social media. He was introduced to Facebook in 2007 while with the NBA (back before Pages) and has been using Facebook for business ever since. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital).

  • Kenneth

    Epic post! This is awesome. Will try that for sure asap! Thanks Jon.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Kenneth!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tjuays Tony Juays

    Sounds like a great feature but what if you want to keep your reach within a mile radius of your business? I am a photographer and currently only focus on a marketing radius of 50 miles from my business.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Tony — You could still create the Lookalike Audience (which would be your country only) and then when you create the ad, you target people who are within that audience but only within 50 miles of your business. Not sure how many people will be left, but worth taking a shot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrewjustinbush Andrew J. Bush

    This seems pretty great. Thanks for pointing this out Jon!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      You bet, Andrew!

  • Holly Wade

    Thanks for the post! I was just reading about this yesterday, so I’m glad you posted about it. Does this work for sponsored stories?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Holly — Yes and no. You can use Lookalike Audiences on any ad type, but Facebook will still only show a Sponsored Story to friends of Fans. Now they’d show your Sponsored Story to friends of Fans who are on that Lookalike Audience list.

  • http://twitter.com/kasperbergholt Kasper Bergholt

    Excellent guide. Did you setup a/b tests with ‘lookalike audiences’ vs. normal, non-targeted audiences? Or is the a/b test based on a Darwinian struggle between for ‘lookalike audiences’?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Kasper — I’ll do both. My Lookalike Audiences have not yet been approved, so I can’t split test yet. Facebook says it can take up to 24 hours, so I’ll be patient!

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  • AliKK

    I’m not getting the option to create. Only “add” or “remove” users. Still rolling out, or is my list of 1100 not big enough?

  • http://twitter.com/jtal1984 Jennifer T

    So interesting. This is EXACTLY what I did for my clients when I worked at an agency dealing in direct mail–we took our current purchasers, compared them to national lists, and then mailed to new prospects who looked like our customers.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Was it successful, Jennifer?

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  • matthias4332

    Very, very useful posts you have here. I love the detail and am putting together a custom ad using power editor now to try to get the people on my mailing list to like my page! Thanks!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Nice! Good luck!

  • fi dunphy

    Hi @jonloomer:disqus , really great post, thanks – did you ever do those split tests mentioned @ the end? I’d love to read about what you found, as I’m about to use this great feature for a client.

  • Daniel Chiteji

    Is there room for lookalike audience to evolve a little more before marketers can maximize this feature?

  • Rubin Kay

    Great Info. It’s almost 24 hours since I created 5 lookalike audiences and the status still says “waiting”. Does it normally take this long? Can I still create ads using these audiences if the status says “waiting”?

  • http://www.renaudgagne.com Renaud Gagne

    Dude , seriously you came in first page for 4 questions that I had about Facebook marketing. You became my go to person…
    1 improvement to consider : this article should point to the your latest post about look a like and how to access them.

  • Philip Kushmaro

    Hey Jon thanks for the Post. You are going a great job!
    Just to get something straight.. If I want new customers (fan page likes) “Reach” is a more appropriate optimization choice?

  • Melissa Ramos

    I think this is dated because the interface looks nothing like this and I can’t find custom audiences in my Power Editor. I can find it in my facebook ads, but I can’t seem to integrate it with for the posts created in Power Editor.

  • Alexandra

    Hello Jon, could you help me with a power editor issue? After creating a Custom Audience by importing several email lists from Mailchimp with more than 2-3K of emails, i’ve got the message – “Audiences must be include at least 20 people to be used for ads”. I’ve deleted the audiences several times and imported them again – and got the same result. I’m stuck in with this and I can not create further a Lookalike Audience. Thanks.

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