The Ideal Facebook Ads Audience Size
I get this question all the time: “Ben, how big should my Facebook audience size be?”
Like most things in Facebook, this question doesn’t have one set answer. So, what I’m going to do is go over my general rules for national or international audiences, and then the rules for local businesses.
They aren’t the same, but they are both fairly easy to understand when you know the guidelines.
Pro Tip: Facebook audience size is not THE most important thing in a campaign. But it is important. If you get it wrong then it can ruin an otherwise solid and profitable campaign.
Facebook Audience Sizes for National and International Businesses
When you can sell your products or services nationally or internationally, you will generally want larger audience sizes.
Here are my basic two rules:
- Audience size should be no smaller than 250,000 people
- Audience size should be no larger 5% of the population of the area you’re advertising in
- In the UK this is about 2.25 million out of 45 million Facebook users
- In the US this is something like 12.5 million our of 250 million Facebook users
The high ends of these audiences can SEEM really big, and they are. But in recent years Facebook has gotten VERY good at identifying the right pockets of people to show a specific type of ad to for conversions.
The algorithm is super good and their data base is massive. They really do know who engages in what type of behavior on their platform.
I’ve found that letting Facebook sort things out usually gets me better results than the old way of targeting smaller, more precise audiences.
Important! Targeting an audience that is too small is likely to cause real problems with your Facebook creatives burning out FAST. Targeting too large is actually far better than targeting too small.
Another thing to mention is that I don’t pay much attention to this dial here. It’s so unreliable you can safely ignore it.
Facebook Audience Sizes for Local Businesses
If you’re running a local business in a local market, then you need to do things a little differently on Facebook when it comes to audiences.
The potential target audience is usually much, much smaller.
How you approach this will depend a great deal on the market you’re in.
If you are in a big city like London or New York that has maybe 10 million users on Facebook you can probably do things more like a national or international business.
But if you are operating in a city with 300,000 people you have to approach your audience sizes differently.
While I like to have an audience size of 250,000 people, I do appreciate that isn’t always possible for a local business.
So what you want to do in this case is target the town you are in and the surrounding areas you do business in. That may be 5 miles or 10 miles. You know where people come from for your business.
Then, and this is important, you add NO ADDITIONAL filters to your audience. Keep the ages broad and the gender open and don’t target any particular interests. Leave your targeting as broad as possible for your geographic area.
For retargeting, the rules will also change.
In a situation where you have very large national or international audiences, you will normally create a look a like audience of 1 to 2%.
For a small local business you’ll want that audience to be as large as possible. 10% can work very well here.
Important! It can be tempting as a local business to artificially inflate the geographic area that your targeting in order to get bigger audiences. Don’t do that. Use your real area and be prepared to change out ad creatives much more often because they will burn out faster.
Get More Facebook Training
Training Video on Facebook Audience Size
In this 11 minute video I go over optimal Facebook audience sizes for local businesses as well as for national or international business.
The Bottom Line on Facebook Audience Size
Before Facebook algorithms have advanced to the point where they are now, it was commonly accepted that more targeted audiences were better.
Now though, we are seeing better results with broad audiences and allowing Facebook to sort through the people who see our offer.
Also, keep in mind that advertising a local business also requires a different approach than advertising a national or international business.