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Achieve an Explosive Growth with TikTok Lookalike Audience

Whether you’re a seasoned advertiser or just starting out on TikTok, reaching more audiences is always an object of desire. If you are looking to expand your reach on TikTok, the Lookalike Audience is a must-have tool that helps you target users who are more likely to engage with your content and potentially become new followers or customers. Read through this article to have a better understanding of this wonderful feature. 

What is TikTok Lookalike Audiences?

TikTok lookalike audience is a targeting option allowing advertisers to aim for users with similar characteristics and interests to an already established audience. It’s based on the idea that users who share similar behaviors and preferences with your existing customers are more likely to convert.

Note: The absolute condition for using Lookalike audiences is to have a Custom Audience, a list of customers who are already engaged with your business. The longer the list, the more efficiently the feature can work. TikTok suggests that the list should have at least 10,000 names. It is more important that the information provided must be accurate.

How does the TikTok Lookalike audience work? 

With your Customer Audience, TikTok’s algorithms will analyze and synthesize details of these customers to know how your customers look like based on the following elements: 

  • Demographics
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Operating system

With these portraits, the system will automatically search for users who share the same characteristics and suggest you. 

The TikTok Lookalike audience offers 3 options of Audience Size which are actually 3 levels of accuracy: 

  • Specific: These audiences will resemble your existing target customers most. However, the number of audiences suggested will be small. 
  • Broad: This option brings you objects that are only similar to your existing customers, but it may remarkably extend your customer list.
  • Balanced: It seems to be an exact balance between Specific and Broad in terms of quantity and likeliness. In fact, it is not the best choice since it fails to satisfy neither objectives of the marketers.    

At the outset, if you don’t know which one to choose, test different lookalike audiences to see which one performs best. And always remember to monitor your ad performance and adjust your strategy accordingly.

When to use TikTok Lookalike Audiences? 

TikTok Lookalike audience is a wonderful tool for you to broaden your target audience during TikTok ads campaign. The platform also allows users to apply it at any phase of ad group delivery. The following 3 phases will be best for you to use this feature: 

  • Cold Start (The initial period when an ad is first delivered to a target audience with little to no prior engagement history): Using a TikTok Lookalike Audience at the cold start can help businesses shorten the time to explore customers. This can quickly build brand awareness and generate interest, especially for new businesses or those entering a new market.
  • Mature Delivery phase (When businesses may have an established customer base and a better understanding of their target audience): Applying Lookalike Audience allows them to expand their reach and attract new customers. It also helps businesses to stay competitive and maintain their market position. 
  • Decline phase (When a business experiences a decline in sales or customer engagement due to changing market trends or increased competition). Using a TikTok Lookalike Audience during the Decline phase can be a cost-effective way to revitalize and attract new customers, allowing them to remain competitive and stay relevant in the market.

How to create a Lookalike Audience on TikTok? 

Step 1: ​Go to the “Assets”, choose “Audience”.

Check Audience in Assets - TikTok Lookalike
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

Step 2: Click “Create Audience” and then select “Create Lookalike Audience”.

Start creating Lookalike Audience based on your desire
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

​Step 3: Click “Source” and a drop-down menu will appear. Here, you can then select a previously uploaded Custom Audience. ​If you have yet to upload a customer list to be a Custom Audience, click the Create Custom Audience option. Only after a Custom Audience is created can you create a Lookalike Audience.

Fill out settings for TikTok Lookalike
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

Step 4: In the Contain Source section, select Omit or Contain:

Choose your preferred contain source
Source: TikTok Ads Manager
  • Omit means that your Lookalike Audience won’t include the Custom Audience you base your definition on. Your ad will only show to Lookalike Audiences, not your Custom Audiences.
  • ​Contain means that your Lookalike Audience will include the Custom Audience you base your definition on. Ads will be shown both to your Lookalike Audiences and Custom Audiences.

Step 5: Select one of the System options: All, Android, or iOS.

Select the preferred system - TikTok Lookalike Audience
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

Note: We recommend creating a different Lookalike Audience for each operating system if you’re trying to increase app installs. For example, if you’re trying to get people to download your iOS app, choose iOS when creating your Lookalike Audience. Select All for website conversions that don’t need to specify an operating system.

Step 6: Select Placement (currently supported: TikTok, TopBuzz & BuzzVideo, Helo, and Vigo).

Choose the placement - TikTok Lookalike
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

Note: We recommend choosing the same placement as with the Custom Audience source used to create Lookalike Audiences. For example, if you’ve created a Custom Audience for an ad you’ve placed on TikTok, you should also select TikTok as a Placement when creating a Lookalike Audience.

Step 7: ​Select a Location where you want to find a similar group of people.

Choose the location - TikTok Lookalike
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

Note: We recommend choosing the exact location as the Custom Audience source used to create Lookalike Audiences.

Step 8: ​In the Audience Size section, choose Specific, Balanced, or Broad.

Choose the audience size
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

Note: The more specific the audience size, the more similar the generated audience will be to your Custom Audience source.

Step 9: Name your audience in the Audience Name section and click Confirm

Name the Audience
Source: TikTok Ads Manager

Tips for effective use of Lookalike Audience

  • ​The “Lookalike Audience” creation process will take approximately 40-60 minutes. Before creation is complete, this object will have an “unavailable” state.
  • ​Lookalike Audiences automatically refresh every 7 days when applied to a running ad set.
  • ​If needed, visit the “Audience” section in the Gallery to apply the Manual Refresh option.
  • ​You can create up to 400 “Lookalike Audiences” groups from the same Custom Audience source.
  • ​If a Source Audience is deleted, you won’t be able to refresh Lookalike Audiences created from that Source Audience.
  • ​If your Lookalike Audience is found to be “Refresh Unavailable” by the system, you should recreate the Lookalike Audience

Final word

TikTok Lookalike Audience feature is a powerful tool that can help advertisers reach a broader audience on the platform. However, it is important to consider other targeting options as well, such as demographic targeting, interest targeting, and location targeting, to ensure that your ads reach the right audience. By testing different targeting options, businesses will find out which one gives the best results. If you want to have diversity in ad campaigns for more potential customers, check out our full walkthrough on Audience Targeting right here!

5/5 - (1 vote)


Xuan Vu
Xuan Vu
Digital Marketing Specialist


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