What is a lookalike audience in social media?

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Lookalike audiences on Facebook and how to use them as part of your digital marketing strategy

Lookalike audiences are a Facebook segmentation feature that locates platform users whose demographics and interests are aligned to those of your existing audiences. Once everything is set up technically, the process is relatively simple to implement and maintain, and they can help you find your best new prospect customers. By building a lookalike audience(s), you can create a method for your ads to reach new people who are probably interested in your product or service as they have similar characteristics and attributes to your existing customer list. 

A lookalike audience on the Facebook platform (Meta) uses one of your existing custom audiences as its source audience and builds the lookalike audience from this custom audience. A custom audience is an ad targeting feature that allows you to pinpoint your existing audience lists by searching for these people on Facebook. You can create custom audiences by using sources like customer lists, website or app traffic, or by selecting people who have engaged with your Facebook page; this creates custom audiences of people who have already come into contact with your organization.

How to get the most out of Facebook lookalike audiences

Choose a relevant source audience that matches your goals

Different audiences in marketing serve different purposes; with custom audiences on Facebook, this is no different; different audiences will match different goals. A case in point is if you wish to create an awareness campaign for your brand; in this example, a lookalike audience using page fans as the source list may work well.

If your goal is to create a campaign to drive online sales, a lookalike audience using website visitors as the source may be a better option.

It all starts from the custom audience

When creating a custom audience on Facebook, there are many options to choose from, so it is important to select the optimal features that match most closely with your campaign goals. Just be sure that you don’t go too granular when building an audience, as it is recommended to have between 1,000 and 50,000 people in your custom audience.

Here are some simple ideas for building custom audiences:

Build a video audience

If you’re setting up a video-based campaign, it would be good to start with people in your audience who have recently engaged with your video content.

Leverage your website visitors

You may need to filter down, as, unless you have a one-page website, all website visitors may be too broad, depending on your objective and number of website visitors. For example, you could narrow down the target audience to people who have visited your website in the past 30 days, or, particularly if you are setting up an eCommerce campaign, you could select visitors who have placed an item in their cart in your online store.

Set up your email audience

Newsletter subscribers are a great audience who may be interested in a range of different communications, such as company news or special promotions. As these people have already subscribed, you can use this audience as a source to get more subscribers, be sure to keep the content relevant and similar in mood and tone. You can automatically sync your email subscriber list through services such as Mailchimp on the Meta Business Suite and Business Manager.

Here are some more advanced ideas for building custom audiences:

People who completed a purchase multiple times over a set period of time or who have purchased over a certain value of goods

Building a custom audience based on your most loyal or high-spending customers and then creating a lookalike audience is likely to help you find more people who convert more than other website visitors. To retain their loyalty, you can also target these people with an exclusive offer.

Build an audience of people who have engaged with your lead forms

Facebook Lead Ads can be an excellent tool for businesses such as B2B as they allow advertisers to collect leads (primarily email addresses and other contact information that you include in the form) while keeping the user on Facebook, which helps improve the conversion rate. You can create audiences for your brand based on people who engaged with your forms over a set period of time or who have opened particular or multiple forms.

The importance of testing in digital marketing

To manage your costs and ensure you are getting a return on your investment, it is wise to set up a testing program before running any major digital marketing campaign.

The benefit of this approach is that the cost of testing new custom audiences and lookalike audiences is generally low. This is particularly the case with custom audiences of website visitors and email lists, as they are likely to be smaller than an interest-based targeting audience. Lookalike audiences using custom audiences as a source list will create larger audiences, but testing usually involves starting with smaller budgets and then measuring the impact and if it is reaching your goals. If the testing indicates positive signs, you can scale up the campaign, and ad spend according to your budget.

Don’t forget the minimum audience size

To create a Facebook lookalike audience, your source audience list needs to match a minimum of 100 people from one country. Facebook recommends that your source audience has between 1,000 to 50,000 people. Once you have done this, you can use the source audience to create up to 500 lookalike audiences.


If you are setting up a Facebook ad campaign, lookalike audiences can be a great way to find new audiences. Using the power of Facebook’s audience profiling, these audiences are more likely to respond to your campaign based on their similarities to your existing audiences.

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