How To Target Facebook Ads At Your LinkedIn Connections (and spend less than $5)

Looking for a cheap, easy and effective way to promote your business?

A few weeks ago, I ran a small Facebook ad campaign that resulted in 10 quality leads for my consulting business.

Total cost? $4.92

Want to know how I did it? Keep reading and I’ll teach you how to do it too…

The secret to the success (and the low cost) of the campaign was that I targeted people who already knew me and trusted me.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why would I spend money to advertise to people who already know me? Isn’t that a waste of money?

The short answer is NO.

Here’s Why You Need To Advertise To Your Friends…

1) The reality is that there are lots of people in your personal social networks who probably don’t know what you do for a living. Think about all the people you know from your community, kids’ schools, religious groups, etc. Use Facebook ads to make sure that these people know what you do and how you can help them.

2) There are also probably a lot of people who know what you do, but who haven’t seen or thought about you in a while. So you’re probably not at the top of these people’s minds when they think about hiring consultants or making recommendations to friends. So it’s a good idea to remind them that you exist every once in a while.

In my case, as soon as I started running my ads, I started getting a bunch of calls and emails from people who had been referred to me by old friends and colleagues. I just needed to get those people thinking about me again.

How To Target Ads To Your Friends And Contacts

OK, so now that we all agree about the value of marketing to your personal network, let me explain how I managed to run this campaign for under $5.

Step 1: Create a list of your contacts’ emails

Being that my goal is to market to people who know me, the first step is to tell Facebook who I know.  Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t let me target ads specifically at my personal Facebook friends.

To get around this problem, you need to find another source of gathering email addresses for all your friends and contacts.

You can accomplish this goal by exporting all your contacts from both LinkedIn and your email contact list (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc). If you have a large email newsletter, you can target the contacts of that list as well.

After I downloaded my contact lists from both Gmail and LinkedIn, I cleaned them up a little by removing all information except for a single column of emails. When the list was ready, I saved it as a new CSV file.

Step 2: Create a Custom Audience in Facebook

The next step was to create a new custom audience using Facebook’s Power Editor.

Keep in mind that when you upload your contact list to a new custom audience, you probably won’t match all your email contacts to active Facebook profiles. The reason for this is that not everybody is on Facebook (unbelievable, I know) or that people’s work emails usually aren’t associate with their Facebook account.

In my case, the 1,000 LinkedIn contacts that I uploaded created a custom audience of 700 people. The 3,000 emails that I uploaded from Gmail resulted in 800 matches. And I’m sure there was also some overlap between the two audiences.

Bonus Tip: You can also segment your contact lists by industry or other criteria before you upload them in order to selectively target your campaigns by industry.

Step 3: Create your ad

After I created my custom audiences, I create a simple ad promoting my new Facebook page and briefly describing the ways that I can help people. This ad was only shown to my new custom audience of my personal network.

Because I was promoting this ad to people who knew me, I used an image of myself because I felt that it would stand out and get noticed better (If you have a logo that you’re sure your friends will recognize, then you can use that also).

Here’s the ad that I ran…


Remember, the goal here is not necessarily click or fans, but rather brand awareness and exposure. That means that I wanted lots of impressions of my ad at a low cost.

When you run a campaign like this, you should definitely use CPC bidding. The reason CPC bidding is so effective for a campaign with a short life span is that is allows you to quickly generate lots of impression for a low price. Facebook will generally give you a few thousand impressions right off the bat in order to test the effectiveness of your campaign. By the time Facebook figures out that your ad is not getting many clicks, you’ll have gotten thousands of impressions and almost be ready to turn off the campaign.

If I don’t care about clicks, then having a low CTR together with CPC bidding is a great way to keep costs down. Remember, we’re looking for impressions here, not clicks.

If I get clicks on the ad, that’s also cool with me because I know that the quality is pretty good because these people already know me.

The Results

In the end, my campaign reached 395 people with an average of 48 impressions per person for only $4.92. If you do the math, that‘s 18,960 impression for an average CPM of only about $0.26.

How to target Facebook ads at your LinkedIn Connections

That means that most of these people couldn’t help but notice me and my ads.

Of course, the most important metric of all was that the campaign generated about 10 phone calls and emails from friends and acquaintances asking if I can provide consulting services for them. I’d say that $5 for 10 solid leads from people who already know and trust me is a pretty darn good ROI (especially considering that a few of those leads have already turned into new, paying, consulting clients).

In addition to the great exposure, leads and clients, I also gained 16 new Facebook fans (avg price per fan of 31 cents).

Going Forward…

Going forward, my goal is to rerun this campaign for a few days every month in order to stay at the top of people’s minds and hopefully generate more referral leads. Of course, I’ll use new images and text each time in order to stay fresh, communicate new messages and to avoid ad burn out.

I wouldn’t recommend that you try to run this type of campaign permanently. First of all, its effectiveness will start to wear off pretty quickly if you don’t change up your ad creatives.

Second of all, some of your friends or acquaintances will start to get sick of seeing your ads and you definitely don’t want to generate any negative feelings towards yourself or your brand.

Bonus Tip (Updated Feb. 2020): You can also upload your gmail contact list as a Matched Audience and then run LInkedIn ads targeting that audience.

Now it’s your turn

How are you going to use this technique to promote your business?

If you’re trying to promote your business, then there’s no reason not to invest $5 – $10 to test this strategy out for yourself. You have very little to lose and a lot to gain.

If you have any questions about how to do any of the steps, you can ask me in the comments and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.

Lastly, do you know somebody who might benefit from this strategy? If yes, send them this article. You might be helping them to make a lot more money.

15 thoughts on “How To Target Facebook Ads At Your LinkedIn Connections (and spend less than $5)”

  1. Hey – great post Aaron! Thanks for sharing such awesome info. Wondered if you could answer a question that’s a little off topic…

    When starting up a new service business (ie. like a coach or a sports instructor) that we plan to blog and market through social, do you recommend opening up a new FB Business page for the person, or just building off of the client’s existing personal profile page until their following warrants switching?
    I get a lot of people wanting to rush into a Business page, but wonder if it will just cost them more money in advertising and if their posts will reach more of their followers initially if coming from their existing personal pages?

    thanks so much!

    1. Aaron Zakowski

      Hey Dave,

      Great question. You’re actually the second person this week to ask me this.

      The short answer is.. it depends 🙂

      In general, Facebook provides a lot more tools for business pages that are not available for personal profiles. The main advantages of a page are the insights/analytics and the advertising options (which, if you read this blog, you’ll know don’t need to be very expensive). In fact, there doesn’t need to be any monetary cost involved in running a business page at all.

      The other consideration is that you may want to separate your personal and professional content. If you share the same things with your friends, family and your business, then maybe you can stick with only a personal profile for now. Managing one pages is also always much easier than posting on two pages.

      I hope this gives you some things to consider. And hopefully, you’ll make the decision that works best for you.

  2. Hey Aaron,
    This is a really great post and one I’m going to try. I export my LinkedIn contacts once a month a send them an email via LinkedIn to touch base say hello and see if I can help with a specific call to action. Custom audiences are really powerful, and I’ve taken it a step further and run lookalike audience campaigns. I like the idea of running this once a month to build awareness with contacts and as you said it’s really important not to over-do it!

    Thanks for your tip


  3. Hey Aaron,

    That was a great post, I must say! You should provide readers with such useful insights.

    I am presently working on a site based on aluminium. Our site provides information about the chains of aluminium and also acts a media partner for aluminium events including trade fairs and conferences all around the globe.

    Now, we are all set to relaunch our site. Can you pls suggest how can facebook ads help us to promote our new site as well as get leads? What should be the initial budget to set an add? ( as we are a start-up) . Your suggestions will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks & Regards


  4. Nice article here, I hadn’t thought about targeting LinkedIn leads but since I’m involved in a B2B app this could be really useful. Bookmarking – thanks Aaron!

  5. Hi Aaron,

    This is a great idea! However do you see this may potentially violate FB’s custom audience T&C?

    “The act of scraping, buying or using data you do not have permission to use appears to be against Facebook’s Terms of Service. So it’s wrong in the sense that Facebook prohibits it.”



    1. Hi Connie,

      Thanks for commenting. It’s a good question that I get asked a lot.

      It is possible that this technique can be interpreted as violating FB’s terms. However, my feeling is that people who have connected with me via email or LinkedIn have given me permission to contact them. Therefore, it should not matter which platform I connect with them through. I realize that FB might not view it this way, but I think it’s ethical.

      Keep in mind that your email subscribers gave you express permission to contact them via email and not via Facebook ads. Yet FB doesn’t have any problem using your email list to target people with ads. I think my gmail or LinkedIn contact are the same story. Just my two cents.


  6. That is not a bad result, if you get high quality leads. But why not send a direct email to those contacts, I mean, once you already have the big list of your contacts, you can contact them. They are your friends. Just remove the subscribe link, and make email, send it, tell to contacts, hello, this is me, your friend on Facebook or LinkedIn, and this is my profile on Facebook/LinkedIn, tell them what you are doing. You will discover your friends.

    Regarding the campaign, I think that 5 dollars is still too expensive for 5 leads. Look at this result, of running for 2 days, with investment of about $75:

    And yes, I did get 1300+ targeted leads, and I am still working with those people, they bring me bunch of money.

  7. Aaron, I have 1750 connects on my Linkedin Account. What I want are leads. I want clicks to my FB advertisement and then get them to give me their email, name and company name because they want to be contacted with more info about working with my Company.

    Paying $50 per lead is just fine with me. Will this process work for my needs?

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