Target Your Competitor's Audience With Facebook Ads

Last updated


Daniel Wade


July 28, 2022

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Facebook Advertising is one of the most effective tools to grow your business, generate leads and sales, and create loyal customers. Facebook Ads is hugely exciting for marketers. This is due to the audience size, targeting options, social network attention, and a decline in organic reach.

Out of the millions of Facebook advertisers, it's safe to assume that you have a number of competitors. When it comes to competition, you ideally should know the assets they are using and how well they are using them. The same applies when you're running Facebook Ads.

You can supercharge your Facebook Ad campaign by targeting the fans of your competitor pages. There is one notable characteristic of your competitors' audience that you can leverage. Your competitors' audience represents a group of users who are already primed to buy what you are offering!

As an advertiser, you can't afford to let this lucrative real estate go to waste. In this piece, we are going to explain how you can employ the little-known but highly effective strategy of targeting your Facebook ads to the competitors' audience.


Table of contents

1. Find the Specific Facebook Pages You Want to Target

Your first step is creating a list of specific competitor pages that you want to target. You can find these pages through a number of strategies. As you research, ensure that you note down the page names and page URLs. Below are the aforementioned strategies of finding the right competitor pages:

  • Facebook Competitor Pages - write down all your main competitors and locate their Facebook pages. You can either find the business Facebook pages or pages of the founders.
  • Facebook Pages of Brands or Public Figures - a great strategy is to think of brands and public figures within your industry. Locate their Facebook pages and add them to your list.
  • Facebook Pages You've Liked - if you have like a page related to your industry then they must be doing something right. It may be beneficial to analyze your own Facebook profile and note the relevant pages you have liked in the past. You can navigate to your likes by simply adding "/likes" to the end of the Facebook profile URL.
  • Facebook Pages in Search - Type your relevant keywords into the Facebook search box and select pages. You can browse this list for additional pages related to your industry.
  • Related Pages or Pages Liked By - Navigate to a Facebook page relevant to your industry. Search for "Pages Liked by This Page" or "Related Pages" on the sidebar. These options enable you to go down the rabbit hole and discover competitor pages you would never have thought of.
  • Top Fans Page Likes - If you click on the Community tab on any Facebook page, you see a list of top fans. Open their profiles and type "/likes" at the end of the URL. You will be able to explore other pages that they have liked.
  • Facebook Pages on YouTube Users - Type your relevant keywords into YouTube to see who has the top ranking videos. Search for their Facebook pages as well. They probably have a valuable high-quality audience that you can target.
  • Facebook Audience Insights - While in Facebook Audience Insights, add interests that are relevant to your business. Click the Page Likes tab to view the list of pages that the people who have those interests have liked. Facebook sorts this list by affinity score to indicate relevance. Pay more attention to the pages with a high-affinity score.

By now you should have a list of highly relevant competitor fans that you can target with Facebook Ads. As you can see, the seemingly simple task of identifying your competitors' audience is not so simple. Trying to target this audience without this knowledge can lead marketers to waste valuable resources and time with minimal ROI.

These nuances necessitate the need for expert input. Fortunately for you, this is the bread and butter of professional advertising agencies. Having a reputable agency handle your PPC accounts is a no brainer if you seek to achieve a successful, scalable and profitable Facebook Ad campaign.

2. Use Split Testing to Determine the Most Profitable Audience

Split testing your audiences allows you to determine the ones that deliver the best results for your ad campaigns. Since you have amassed valuable data concerning your competitors' audience and their interests (based on information from your page list), the Facebook split test audience variable is a great feature for specific targeting.

This feature divides your audience into random, non-overlapping groups. This allows you to acquire statistically significant data. In the Facebook split test, you may have up to five variations of your test variable (five different audiences). Facebook calculates and compares the cost per result for each ad set.

The ad set with the least cost per result (such as cost per link click or video view), wins. Facebook uses the test data and thousands of simulations to determine the results Confidence Level, reported as a percentage. This represents your likelihood of getting similar results if you ran the split test again.

As such, you can use an audience split test and an objective (video views) to determine the audience that generates the least cost per video view in this case. Below are the steps to creating a split test campaign:

  • In your Ads Manager dashboard, click on the Create button(green)
  • Select the Quick Creation Workflow option
  • Navigate to the Campaign Objective dropdown tab and select Video Views(since we are using video views for this example)
  • Toggle on the Split Test switch to reveal the variable selection box
  • Select "Audience" and choose the number of audiences you want to test. In our case we want to test 2 audiences.
  • Name the ad sets according to your test audiences. For this example, we can use a Lookalike Audience (Ad Set 1) and Saved Interest Audience (Ad Set 2).
  • Since you're changing the audience variable only, your test will use the same ad.
  • Go to the Ad Set level and click Ad Sets on the top right.
  • Check both ad sets and click Edit to view the edit window
  • Set the daily budget for your campaign (you can go for the mandatory minimum budget) and split it evenly across your two ad sets.
  • Next is setting up your schedule. Begin with a 7-day timeframe to allow you to gather sufficient data without wasting budget.
  • The final step is creating the ad that your audiences will see. You can do this at the Ad Level of your campaign

Facebook will end the test once your winning ad set is found. Now you can utilize the split test throughout your sales funnel. You can target your competitors' audiences against each other to determine the one where you should focus your next efforts.

3. Use Facebook Page Insights to Analyze Content Resonating With Your Target Audience

When you click your competitors Facebook page directly from the Audience Insights dashboard, you will discover lots of content inspiration and research information. Peruse the pages of your competitors and note the content as well as user engagement.

Check the left side of your competitor's Facebook page. You will see direct links that filter their content based on several categories including About, Posts, Photos, Instagram, Videos, and Communities. Engage each of these links and dig deeper to determine the type of engagement they are getting.

Once you determine the type of engagement your competitors are getting (positive or negative), you can formulate ways to adapt your Facebook Ad strategy accordingly. Below are some questions you should ask to help you out:

  • What kind of content do they put out? Are they addressing the interests and pain points of their audience? What format is their content (video, posts, or reviews)?
  • What topics resonate most with the fans and get more engagement?
  • Are there discussions that reveal new information that may help your strategy?
  • Do they promote their events through Facebook?

Look for the ways relevant channels and your competitors engage their audience that moves them down the sales funnel. You can utilize these insights to develop your own audience targeting strategies that will siphon off traffic from the competition.

This method is highly effective since you are essentially retargeting an already warm audience with content they previously showed an interest in. You can add your own unique and personal touch to generate interest from these fans.

4. Create Ads Specifically for Your Competitors' Fan Base

Facebook does not allow you to specifically target the fans of your competitors' pages. What Facebook Ads does is make it easier for you to target people with similar interests and large competitors. Once you have done your research on content that resonates with your competitors' audiences, you can deliver more value with your ads.

All you need to do is navigate to the "Interests" section and key in the name of the competitor fan page. For instance, if you are creating ads for a local pharmacy, you can target users in the area who “like" or have shown interest in pages related to a leading local pharmacy. There is no exact formula for targeting your competitors through interest-based audiences.

However, you will benefit from a highly-targeted audience by analyzing the customer interests. With the information on common interest, you can then create your custom audiences which target users with interests that are likely to align with both your competitors and your business.

All in all, getting the attention of your competitors' audience is less about directly targeting relevant page fans and more about mapping to their interests and attributes. This allows you to push relevant messages by expanding your Facebook Ad targeting capabilities. Optimizing your Facebook ads for your competitions' audience can be very effective and is worth testing for any business.

However, to avoid wasting advertising resources on potentially cold audiences, you have to implement this strategy properly. As such, it is advisable to hire a competent advertising agency with the knowledge, expertise, and tools to manage such aspects of your PPC campaigns.

Target Your Competitor's Audience With Facebook Ads


Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts and spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.

Learn more about SparrowBoost