How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences

audience raises hands at concert

I’ll let you in on a secret. To get the most out of Facebook advertising, you must understand how to design and use a custom audience.

You see, after setting your goals, effective Facebook ads depend on the RIGHT AUDIENCE!

How to Use Facebook Custom Audiences

So to clarify, what do I mean when I say custom audience? It’s just what it sounds like. Facebook defines a custom audience as an audience built from customer data that you already have on hand.

custom audience options

What are your options for a custom audience and how can you use them? Let’s go through the most popular.

Customer File

Concerns aside, Facebook will allow you to upload customer data like phone numbers and email address. You must have permission from these people to access and use their information. In fact, it’s a general rule of thumb to make people aware of how you will use their data. Facebook actually requires you to confirm that you obtained this information yourself and that you aren’t using data you don’t have permission to use.

A quick note on the security of putting customer lists on Facebook:

  • When you upload your file, Facebook uses a process called “hashing” to make the data anonymous. This process makes it impossible for Facebook (or anyone else, for that matter) to extract the original information that you uploaded. And your data is not stored, saved or retained by Facebook in any way.

customer file

Website Traffic

If you have the Facebook Pixel on your website, you can target people based on their actions. The pixel tracks a person’s activity on your site, and Facebook allows you to fine-tune that audience down to the actions they take on a specific page or frequency of visits.

website traffic

 App Activity

Create a custom audience of people who have installed your app. To do this, you’ll need the Facebook SDK, which is a snippet of code that you install in your app. Like the Facebook Pixel, it is a way for Facebook to track the actions of people in your app.



If you are posting content that gets good reach and engagement, Facebook will allow you to make a custom audience out of those people. For example, if you had a lot of great interaction (comments, shares, tagged conversations) in a Facebook event, you can create an audience of the people who interacted so that you can advertise to them for your next event.

engagement options

Now that we’ve covered what a custom audience is and how they are created, what options do you have for using them?

  • If someone is visiting your page, can you find more people like them? Can you send ads to these new lookalike people to see if they will visit your website too?
  • Using the Facebook Pixel to track website visits, can you entice people who haven’t been to your page in 60 days to come BACK for a special offer?
  • Using the Facebook Pixel, create an audience of people who visited a specific page on your website, like your product listings? Can you get them to come back and make a purchase?
  • Who watched that Facebook video you posted? Can you target them with additional content?

Creating a custom audience gives you a great deal of control in Facebook advertising. It’s a smart way to spend your ad dollars because you are targeting the right audience for your goals.