Last Update: September 13, 2019

There is nothing we marketers love more than easy optimization. Thankfully, Facebook has been hard at work amplifying the use of their advertising platform with some of those easy-to-use tactics.

Facebook’s New Lookalike Audience Setup

For those familiar with Facebook advertising, you may notice that “Lookalike Audiences” are now promoted as an option on new campaigns or advertisement sets. A lookalike audience allows you to find more people on Facebook that share common traits with optimizations that have worked for you in the past.

That means you can now reach Facebook users with similar locations, ages, genders, and interests to your current customers by just clicking a button. By using the specific Facebook behaviors of visitors and/or customers as a target, the new audience list will algorithmically show similarities in interests deemed important to the success of your business.

Right now, you can base your lookalike audience on people who like your Page or visitors to your website. For now, the Facebook tracking codes (or pixels) you have on your website track your visitors. Eventually, Facebook will no longer rely on pixels all together and optimize your lookalike audience as visitors simply click through on your ads.

How does Facebook determine who your customers are and their demographics?

Lookalike audiences are based on pixels you’ve previously set up on your website, your custom audience data you provide, or mobile app data from fans of your page. However, you can also create lookalike audiences for visitors to your website, visitors to your blog, or a customer lead list that you’ve uploaded to Facebook directly.

For more information on installing Facebook pixels or uploading audiences visit this blog here: How To Install Facebook Tracking Pixels.

Should You Be Using the Lookalike Audience Feature?

Yes, if you’re keen on advertising as precisely as possible and maximizing your ROI. The lookalike audience helps support your advertising objectives. Additionally, it allows you to target people similar to your existing visitors, readers, or customers.

Here’s some additional information to consider:

  • The Lookalike Audience will only include people from the countries you select while creating it.
  • It must contain at least 100 people from a single country to use as a basis.
  • You can create up to 500 Lookalike Audiences from a single source audience.
  • People in your source audience won’t be included in your Lookalike Audience.


How Do Lookalike Audiences Work?

Facebook looks at common sources within your audiences, such as demographics and interests. Next, it finds people that “look like” these sources specific to the country you choose in your advertising campaign. Currently, lookalike audiences only support the use of one country at a time for this purpose.

For your lookalikes to work perfectly, your source audience needs to have a minimum of 100 people from one single country. For example, that means if you’re basing your audience off of website visitors or blog readers, you need to have 100 readers from the United States. This is the best way to use country/location as one of your source demographics.

However, Facebook does make it possible for you to create or use a custom audience to create a lookalike program for another country. For example, if you have 100 blog readers from Finland, you can take this information and specify in your advertisement that you want to now target Sweden. Then, Facebook will find a lookalike audience based on the information from your Finnish list.

Expect 3 to 7 days for the Facebook algorithm to find your lookalike audience based on the information you’ve provided.

Can You Perfect Your Lookalike Audience With Even More Targeted Features?

Yes! If you need to, you can manually add other audiences or Facebook targeting options on top of your lookalike campaign. For example, try creating your lookalike campaign with no additional input at first. That will let you get an idea of how that will work for you before you start A/B testing some additional targeting options.

Can You Use More Than One Lookalike Audience on an Ad Set?


How do you start?

I thought you’d never ask.

To Start Creating Your Lookalike Audience:

  1. Go to your audiences page here:
  2. Click Create a Lookalike Audience
  3. Choose your source (based on an app, conversion pixel, or Facebook page)
  4. Select the country where you’d like to find a similar set of people
  5. Choose your desired audience size with the slider
  6. Click Create Audience


Final Thoughts

It can take up to 24 hours before Facebook can create your Lookalike Audience based on the parameters you set. Then it refreshes automatically every 3 to 7 days as long as you’re actively targeting ads with it. And then you can track how it updates through your Audience Manager page. Also, to create any of these items, you need to be an administrator to a specific Facebook page.

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These steps were directly sourced.

This post was originally published September 2016 and has been updated with current information. 



Kristine is the Director of Marketing at Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. Kristine has a Masters Degree in Leadership and Communications from Gonzaga University and graduated from BYU with her undergrad in Broadcast Journalism. She's worked in television news, public relations, communications strategy, and marketing for over 10 years. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.