Facebook Ads for Indie Filmmakers: Lookalike Audiences

I’m going to do a series of posts about using Facebook ads as a part-time, indie filmmaker. I don’t have a lot of money for advertising. Is it possible to use small ad buys to generate actual sales? I’m going to try to find out.

So, I ran a couple of Facebook ads for my documentary film. The results were OK. I didn’t spend a lot of money, but reached a good number of people. I specifically targeted these people based on ages and interests that I thought would be good.

But I wanted to learn how to use the Facebook Pixel that I put on my website. I wanted to run ads directed at conversions, directed at sales. I didn’t know how to make that happen. I was tired of throwing money away on brand awareness ads that didn’t lead to sales.

A day or so later I got an email from Facebook saying they want to teach me how to do better advertising. So I click. The end result was a couple of 45 minus calls with a real live facebook ad trainer. Facebook does this because they make money from advertising, and hey want people like me to use facebook ads. So teaching me how to reach my goals through spending money on Facebook is in their best interests.

So the first call was the real eye opener. We chatted a bit and I told the guy what I was hoping to see. Then he laid out their funnel for generating “warm leads” over cold calls and converting them to customers who buy. Prior to this I thought I understood how to place advertising on Facebook. But I was so very wrong.

Enter the Lookalike Audience.

Facebooks uses data that people give them voluntarily, to track behaviors and group people together. Then they allow me to access those audiences who look like my current audience.

For example, I have an instagram page. It has a few followers. When I create a lookalike audience for that group, Facebook looks at my current followers and catalogs various demographics. They look at person 1 and see that this person is a member of these groups, friends with these people, lives in this area, is married, visits these website with Fb pixels attached, and more. Then they go out and find people that match those criteria. So, while my Instagram account doesn’t have a lot of followers, they find hundreds of thousands of potential fans, who have behaviors that look like my current audience.

Then I can introduce my film to them. I built 3 lookalike audiences. One for my Facebook page, Instagram account and the Facebook Pixel I have installed on my website. The lookalike audiences look for people who look like those who have interacted with my FB and Insta pages in the last year, and with my Pixel in the 6 months.

The genius of the lookalike audience is that it removes the cold calling aspect of FB marketing. I don’t have to try to guess what interests my audience likes, Facebook knows already. And can advertise to people who are like my existing audience.

I did a very small lookalike audience ad campaign. Just $10.

For that $10 I got 6,300 impressions, with a reach of 5,200, and a frequency of 1.22. Facebook estimated that 220 of those people would remember my ad, remember the movie. Remember, these are not cold calls but are people who look like my current audience.

Next step was to retarget these people, and my audience, with a video interaction ad. For this I initially spent $30. But after a few days, seeing who the ad was reaching, I cut it back to $20 and shortened the run time. At one point my frequency was at a 5, and my per video view rate was almost $0.30 per view. People were seeing the ad too often (it would become annoying.) and the cost was climbing.

I think it was because my audience is still very small. I was not using the lookalike audience, but people who interacted with my pages (which includes those 220 potential audience members.) It’s still a very small potential audience.

The final step in the funnel is conversions. I just launched an ad campaign that tracks the use of my pixel, specifically an event that shows people who click to buy the film. (It took me a while to figure out how to do this, but it pretty simple- once you figure it out. Future blog post to come.) In order to get the potential results I wanted I had to use both my existing audiences and a lookalike audience from my instagram account. I’m hoping this will work better than just targeting my existing audience.

FB estimates that 10-40ish people will convert to buy the film. If I get 10 actual sales, that will more than cover all of the money I’ve spent so far on this experiment. And if that result is scalable… Then I could be on the way to recouping what I spent to make the film.