Conversion Rate Optimization
Social Media Advertising

What are Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

11 minute read

Lookalike audiences are a way to target new customers who are just like your existing customers and are therefore more likely to convert for your business. Facebook Lookalike Audiences is a data tool that gives you a chance to reach new customers, by finding people who are similar to your best customers. Facebook takes information on current customers, which can be taken from a large list of options including but not limited to:

  • A list of customers you upload to Facebook
  • Website Traffic anywhere you have placed a Facebook pixel
  • A list of people who have interacted with your company’s Facebook page.

and generates a list of people who are similar to your current customers. This lookalike audience is more likely to become customers, as they are similar to your current customers.  You can choose the audience size and target country to make sure that the customers are relevant to your product or service.

lookalike audience

How do Facebook Lookalike Audiences Help Advertisers?

Lookalike audiences are valuable in that they help you find people who are similar to your existing buyers. Facebook has massive amounts of data on its users and has the ability to make connections through that data.  These lookalike audiences are extremely effective at finding high-converting users.

Lookalike audiences give you a way to reach an audience beyond interest or behavior targeting. Since the audience is created based on your current customers or qualified leads, you can eliminate the guess and check method of expanding your audience. The lookalike audience sizes can also be much larger than both your email list and Facebook “likes” total. When creating a lookalike audience on Facebook you can choose anywhere from 1% to 10% audience size giving you an audience of at least 2 million people in the U.S. The percentage indicates how similar you want the lookalike audience to be compared to your custom audience. Smaller audiences tend to perform better, anywhere between 50,000 and 1,000 people.

Lookalike audiences tend to be less expensive than other behavior or interest-based targeting audiences. They are also generally the best performing audience type that Facebook currently has if you use targeting of 1% to 2%. Upwork found that lookalike audiences using 1% or 2% drove the best CPA performance 67% of the time. This is because Facebook uses machine learning to adapt and target based on successful conversions. An added bonus of Facebook doing most of the heaving lifting with lookalike audience targeting is that it frees you up to dedicate more time to your other campaigns.

What are the Possible Audience Sources?

The possibilities for Facebook lookalike audiences are almost endless. You could generate hundreds of different sources for lookalike audiences. For example, if you sell soccer jerseys, you could make:

  • A list of people who have already purchased a jersey from you
  • A list of your top spending customers
  • A list of people who have interacted with your Facebook page or Facebook posts in various ways.
  • A list of people who have interacted with your business in-store or over the phone.
  • A list of people who have visited your website that has your Facebook pixel on it.
  • A list of people who have launched your app.
  • A list of people who have visited or interacted with your Instagram profile.

How to Set Up Facebook Lookalike Audiences:

Setting up Facebook Lookalike audiences is quick and easy. In your Facebook Business Manager account go to the Audience page under the “assets” tab.

facebook ads manager

From there, you will want to click “create audience” and select “Customer Audience”. A pop-up window will appear with these options:


As you can see, there are many different criteria that you can use to form customer audiences. You can use a customer file, or a list of information that you have from current, past, or potential clients. You can use website traffic from any page that has your Facebook pixel, specifying only certain pages, or choosing to use the whole site. You can target different types of engagement on your Facebook page or Instagram page,  for example targeting users who have watched a video or liked a post.

Once you create the custom audience, you may need to allow the audience to grow before reaching it. For example, if you are targeting users who have visited your website, and you put the Facebook pixel on the site at the same time you created the audience, you have to wait for the pixel to collect data since lookalike audiences work best with a list of at least 1000 people.

From there you will want to click the “Create Audience” button, and select “Lookalike Audience”. (Note: if you want to use a custom audience to build the lookalike audience you must build this first).


You need to select a source for your lookalike audience. This can be a custom audience, a Facebook page, or a conversion pixel. Custom audiences can be created from a wide array of sources, giving you options in shaping the lookalike. From there, you want to select the location and the audience size. As you can see in this example, 1% for the United States already gives you an audience of 2.1 million users.


Once you have created the audience you can make an ad set and set the audience to your created lookalike audience.

How Can Advertisers Get the Most Out of Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

So how do you get the most out of your Facebook lookalike audience? We have 5 tips for you.

  1. First, if you have enough traffic on your site, you should try and divide your custom audiences based on their engagement on your site. This will allow you to create lookalike audiences that are more specifically targeted to different products or services your business offers.
  2. When creating a custom audience, use a current customer list. This will allow Facebook to find profiles that match your current customer base. These people will be more likely to convert.
  3. When possible, you should use different ads and ad copy for different segments. If you can advertise based on each audience’s interests you are much more likely to get clicks and conversions. For example, let’s say you are creating Facebook ads for your kayak rental business. You would want to target people who have shown interest in kayaking. However, this audience will probably be very large and varied. As an example, it would be more effective to have one ad set targeting maybe adults with families who are looking for a casual kayak experience, and another ad set targeting younger more adventure seeking kayakers. Using the same ad copy wouldn’t attract both groups, so you are better off using different ads and ad copy for each segment.
  4. Give lookalike audiences time to test different possible audiences. The lookalikes may not start out with the best cost per lead, but as the algorithm learns, the cost per lead will go down and the lookalike lists will become more valuable.
  5. Set your audience size to either 1% or 2% if possible. This will ensure the lookalike audience is closely related to your current customers or leads that the lookalike audience is derived from. Although using a higher percentage can give you a much larger possible audience, the audience will be less similar to your ideal prospect, and therefore less likely to convert.


Running social media marketing can be difficult. inSegment can make things easier for you. inSegment is a full-service Digital Marketing Agency with years of success in Social Media Marketing. Visit our website to learn more about our Digital Marketing Services and how we can help you navigate Social Media Advertising.