How to find competitors for your Facebook ads targeting in a totally unknown niche?

By | July 17, 2016

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to launch a Facebook ads campaign in an entirely unknown niche for a new business that still was in the first stage of building its audience? You can’t use remarketing because the audience is too small and you can’t target the email list because you just simply don’t have one. What can you do then?
One of the most popular and most effective solutions would be to target people who are interested in your competitors. However, when working in a smaller and very targeted niches, finding competitors with a decent Facebook page might become a real puzzle. And very often leading companies in such markets don’t have large Facebook audiences.
I had exactly the same problem with one of my clients not so long ago. I spent many hours just researching and making a list of competitors that could be targeted in Facebook ads. It was a time-consuming task, but I learned a lot about the niche and found a handful amount of pages to target. I always believed that a proper preparation could make your life much easier in the further process of launching your ads.
So, this time, I would like to share my three-step process of finding competitors for your Facebook ads targeting.

1. List what you already know

Yes, first of all, write down everything you and your partners know about the niche. Ask them to write down every competitor they already have found and list all keywords that describe the niche. Also, update the list of what you know and do a brief keyword research to improve the list even more. This way you will have a starting point for further steps.

2. Google

Like always, Google is our savior when it comes to competitors research. Use each keyword from the list you made, check all the websites and write down every Facebook page that could be targeted by you advertising campaign.
My advice would be to stick only with larger pages with at least 10.000 fans. Usually, smaller groups are not indexed by Facebook, so they are in no use for us. Even larger ones are very often not indexed.

3. Liked by this page

This is the best part. After you squeezed out everything from Google, go through every Facebook page and on the bottom left you will see a section “Liked by this page.” There you will see all the pages that an individual fan page likes.


Usually, there you will find some really good-quality competitor pages that could be targeted with your Facebook ads. It might take hours, but don’t be lazy and look through all of them.

After finishing these steps, you should have a decent list of pages. Remember, that not all pages are indexed and could not be targeted in Facebook ads. To make sure it is available, use Audience Insights or test directly within your Facebook ads to find out. Once you have all the available pages, rank them from largest to smallest. This way it will be easier to divide them into separate ad sets. Usually, if the page has more than 50.000 people, I target them separately, if less then I combine into one ad set until I get a  50.000 – 100.000 people audience. If you are tight on a budget, don’t try to target every page. Just choose a few of the largest ones, group them and use in you Facebook ads.
Don’t forget to keep testing your targeting all the time. After you launch a campaign, keep an eye on it for a few days and check the results. If you see, that the ad is not performing well, just stop it and create a new one targeting other pages from your list. Keep experimenting until you find the best combination that brings relevant people for a decent price.

This is my short method of how I build a list of competitors to target in my Facebook ads. It might take many hours to get through all of them, but if you want results shouldn’t it be worth your time? In my opinion, it is better to dedicate some time building this list of competitors and have a much easier life later. Also, this type of targeting could be a good starting point to creating an audience in your Facebook pixels for retargeting. Just keep testing and you’ll see the results.

What are you tactics when starting in a totally unknown niche? Do you follow any strict rules? If you have something to add, I welcome you to leave a message on Twitter, Facebook or just send an email to me.

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