Here’s how higher education institutions can use Facebook lookalike audiences to extend their global reach

Higher education institutions use Facebook ads to generate interest from prospective students. Thanks to Facebook lookalike audiences, colleges and universities can deliver targeted ads like never before.  


Facebook lookalike audiences help higher education institutions identify and connect with social media users who share attributes similar to their alumni, faculty, and students. To understand why, let’s answer some of the biggest questions surrounding lookalike audiences.


What is a lookalike audience?


A lookalike audience consists of Facebook users who share characteristics of those that currently engage with a higher ed institution. Once a lookalike audience is created, the school can use it to deliver targeted Facebook ads to new people.


To set up a lookalike audience, you first need to provide a source audience. From here, Facebook identifies users from around the world who share attributes with your source audience members. Next, Facebook creates a lookalike audience that you can specifically target with Facebook ads.  


What are the benefits of using Facebook lookalike audiences?


Lookalike audiences help schools deliver Facebook ads to the right people, at the right time. Plus, they can attract new Facebook page fans and followers, which ultimately leads to greater enrollment down the line. 


Facebook lookalike audiences can also help schools optimize their social media marketing spend. Lookalike audiences deliver Facebook ads to people who are more likely than others to show interest. This can help maximize the ROI of social media marketing campaigns.


Schools have the flexibility to set up lookalike audiences as big or as small as they choose, too. You can use these audiences to target hundreds or thousands of Facebook users. If you track the results of your Facebook marketing campaigns, you can generate insights to continuously improve performance as well. 


How to get started with Facebook lookalike audiences


It won’t take long for a school to set up a Facebook lookalike audience. First, choose the source audience; this can consist of Facebook page fans, website visitors, or others who have previously engaged with the school. At least 100 people are required to set up a lookalike audience, and Facebook recommends using a source audience of between 1,000 and 500,000 people


After a source audience is uploaded to Facebook, determine the size of the lookalike audience. A large audience gives a school more data points than a small one. Conversely, a smaller audience will more closely mirror the characteristics of the source audience. (The wider the audience, the more broadly Facebook’s lookalike matching is applied.)


At this time, you can target specific demographics within the lookalike audience. Consider the target audience and add age, geographic location, and other parameters to ensure your ad hits the mark.  


Next, create the ad you want to deliver to the Facebook users in your lookalike audience. It helps to incorporate clear, concise text and an eye-catching image into the ad, so lookalike audience members are immediately drawn to it. 


It typically takes six to 24 hours from the time source audience data is uploaded to the creation of a lookalike audience in Facebook. The lookalike audience will be updated every few days as long as you actively target ads to it, but you do not have to wait for a lookalike audience to update to use it. 


3 tips for using Facebook lookalike audience’s for higher ed marketing


There’s a lot to like about Facebook lookalike audiences if they are used properly. Now, let’s look at three tips use to get the most value out of your school’s lookalike audiences. 


1. Choose the right source audience


Determine the audience for the kind of Facebook campaign you want to launch. Choose a source audience that either has responded well to that kind of message or that you think would respond well. This way, the ad will be shown to new people who share characteristics with the ones these ads have worked on before.


2. Use different audience sizes


Weigh the pros and cons of big and small lookalike audiences. Using a big audience provides greater reach, but a small audience can be beneficial if you want to deliver more personalized Facebook ads.


3. Leverage high-quality data 


Use accurate and relevant data for the source audience. Higher ed institutions that provide high-quality data for a source audience can boost the likelihood of getting the optimal results from their lookalike audiences. 


A Facebook lookalike audience can deliver immense value, but it is only one of several options a college or university can use to bolster its social media marketing campaigns. In fact, by working with the higher ed marketing experts at KWALL, your school can uncover new ways to take its social media marketing to the next level. 


KWALL is a higher ed web agency that can help your school grow its online presence. For more information or to request a free website audit, contact KWALL today.


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