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LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads: Everything You Need to Know

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Mo Shehu

linkedin thought leader ads

Master LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads with our comprehensive guide. Explore their benefits, setup tips, costs, and how they boost engagement and trust.

Table of contents

TL;DR – LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads are a paid ad type that combines the trust and credibility of personal profiles with the powerful distribution of ads. From just $10/day, you can now promote content from your executives’ profiles to reach your ideal buyer and drive higher awareness, engagement, and sales.

What are Thought Leader Ads?

Thought Leader Ads are a special type of LinkedIn ad that promotes content from the personal profiles of your company’s top leaders. 

Instead of using your company’s LinkedIn page to promote your brand, you use the profiles of your leaders to share insights, stories, and experiences.

This approach makes the ads more personal and relatable, which can lead to higher engagement and trust.

Think of it as a form of social media influencer marketing for B2B creators and executives.

Personal touch

A Thought Leader ad is shown from an individual profile, making it feel more personal and genuine.

It’s distinguished from other feed posts by a label under the person’s headline.

For example, if your CFO shares a post about financial strategies, it feels like advice from a trusted expert rather than a company trying to sell something. 

This personal touch can help build stronger connections with your audience.

Higher engagement

People tend to engage more with content from people they follow and trust. 

When an industry expert shares their insights and experiences, it can lead to more likes, comments, and shares. 

This higher engagement not only boosts the visibility of your content but also enhances your brand’s credibility.

A Thought Leader Ad distributes that highly credible content to many more people at once.

Authenticity

Authenticity is key. Audiences can easily spot content marketing that feels fake or overly promotional. 

Thought Leader Ads allow your leaders to share genuine insights and real experiences, which can resonate more deeply with your audience. This authenticity can help build trust and loyalty.

In the next sections, we will explore how to set up and use Thought Leader Ads effectively, including tips on targeting, copywriting, and visual elements.

We will discuss why this form of marketing is especially powerful for solo founders, how long it takes to see results, and how much a LinkedIn Thought Leader ad costs. 

How to set up Thought Leader Ads

Requirements:

  • The employee must list the company as an active role on their LinkedIn profile.
  • Campaign objective must be Brand Awareness or Engagement.
  • Posts can only contain a link in the body and an image.
  • LinkedIn Audience Network must be disabled.

Steps:

  1. Identify the post you want to boost.
  2. Open an existing or new campaign to the Ads page
  3. Click ‘Browse Existing Content
  4. Select the ‘LinkedIn members’ button
  5. Search to find the person
  6. Search to find the Post from the person
  7. Click ‘Request’ on the Post
  8. Either send the employee the request link or tell them to check their email.
  9. The employee must review/approve the post. They can choose to auto-approve all future posts you may want to promote from the company page.
LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads - how to search for an employee to promote posts
Search for the person whose post you want to promote.

LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads - how to select a post and add to campaign
Search and find the post from the person to sponsor. In this case, posts have already been auto-approved, but you may need to click ‘Request’ to get their approval.

LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads - request approval
This is what the screen might look like if you have to Request consent to boost a post.

LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads - approval request page
After clicking on the email received in their inbox, the executive or employee will be redirected to a page like this showing the posts you’ve requested to use as Thought Leader Ads.

LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads - auto-approval
The person can set up Auto-approval to make future promotions a breeze.

How to use Thought Leader Ads

Using Thought Leader Ads effectively involves smart targeting, engaging copywriting, and the right visual elements. 

Here’s how you can get the most out of them:

Identify your target audience

Knowing who you want to reach is key. Define your audience by job titles, industries, and interests. 

This ensures your message resonates with the right people.

For example, if you’re in the tech industry, you might target CTOs, software developers, and IT managers.

Choose the right thought leader(s)

The basis of thought leadership marketing is the subject matter expert.

Select leaders with strong LinkedIn presences and relevant expertise. This could be you (if you’re a solo founder) or your executive team (if you’re a company).

These leaders should be comfortable sharing insights and engaging with followers, and ideally active on LinkedIn.

For example, a CTO with deep knowledge of your product’s technology can effectively communicate its benefits to a tech-savvy audience of engineers.

A marketing or sales lead, on the other hand, might lack the credibility to successfully convince engineers to try out your product.

Craft compelling copy

Thought leadership content should provide value. 

Share insights, industry trends, personal stories, and solutions to common problems. Keep the tone authentic and conversational.

For instance, a CFO discussing financial strategies during economic uncertainty can offer valuable advice that resonates with other financial professionals.

Check out our list of 100+ LinkedIn post ideas to kickstart your content calendar.

Use engaging visuals

Visual elements can make your ad more appealing and grab attention. 

Use professional photos of the thought leader and include infographics or videos if relevant.

For example, a professional headshot of the leader combined with an infographic explaining key points can enhance the ad’s effectiveness.

Engage and follow up

Interaction builds trust and connection. Encourage your thought leaders to respond to comments and messages. 

This engagement shows your audience that you value their input.

For example, after your CEO posts about a new product, responding to comments and questions can foster a deeper connection with potential customers.

Monitor and adjust

Track the performance of your thought leadership ads to see what works and make improvements. 

Look at LinkedIn metrics like engagement rates, follower growth, and feedback to refine your strategy.

If an ad or post about a new service gets a lot of positive feedback, consider creating more content on that topic.

Let’s now explore when to use Thought Leader Ads to maximize their impact.

When to use Thought Leader Ads

Two key factors in B2B marketing are timing and targeting. Here are key times to use LinkedIn Thought Leader ads:

Launching a new product or service

Introducing new offerings with a personal touch adds credibility and excitement.

For instance, when launching a new software tool, have your CTO explain its features and benefits in a series of LinkedIn posts.

Entering a new market

Building trust in a new market is crucial, especially if you’re targeting a small set of accounts.

Thought Leader Ads help establish credibility with a new audience quickly, and the granular targeting ensures your message reaches only the right people.

For example, if your company is entering the US healthcare sector, your CEO can share some content on how your solutions meet specific needs there, with the ads targeted at local CxOs.

Sharing industry insights

Commenting on trends or sharing research positions your brand as a thought leader.

For instance, your marketing VP could share analysis on upcoming trends in content marketing in a video ad, while your CTO shares tech news on artificial intelligence.

linkedin thought leader ads - michael kaminsky

Crisis management

During a crisis, clear communication is key. Thought Leader Ads let leaders provide reassurance and information.

During an economic downturn, for example, your CFO can share strategies your company is using to navigate challenges.

Recruitment drives

Attracting top talent requires showcasing your company’s leadership and culture.

Your HR head could share personal experiences about your company culture and employee advocacy to attract job candidates.

Get more content ideas in our article on HR content strategy.

Building brand awareness

Regular updates from your leaders can keep your company top-of-mind.

For example, your CEO sharing company milestones and future plans keeps a growing audience engaged.

Using Thought Leader Ads in these scenarios can help you build trust, engage your audience, and achieve your business goals. 

In the next section, we will discuss when NOT to use Thought Leader Ads to avoid potential pitfalls.

When NOT to use Thought Leader Ads

While Thought Leader Ads can be powerful, here are some factors that can hamper your use of them:

  • Lack of authenticity: Avoid using Thought Leader Ads just to push sales without providing real value or insights. If the content doesn’t feel genuine or is overly promotional, it can result in lower engagement.
  • Unprepared leaders: Don’t use these ads if your leaders are not ready to share personal insights or respond to comments. If your leaders aren’t comfortable or skilled at engaging with followers, the ads might go wasted.
  • Negative company news: Avoid using these ads to defend against bad press or during a company scandal. If your company is facing negative publicity or a crisis, using Thought Leader Ads to be overly defensive can seem out of touch.
  • Inconsistent branding: Don’t use Thought Leader Ads if your leaders are giving mixed messages about the company’s vision or goals. If the messages from different leaders are not aligned, it can confuse your audience.
  • Lack of clear goals: Avoid using these ads without a clear strategy for what you want to achieve, like increasing brand awareness or generating leads. Without clear objectives, Thought Leader Ads might not deliver the desired results.
  • Overuse: Don’t rely solely on Thought Leader Ads for all your marketing efforts. Mix them with other strategies, like Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Too many ads can overwhelm your audience, overstretch your budget, and reduce your impact.

By avoiding these pitfalls, you can ensure your Thought Leader Ads are effective and well-received by your audience.

Why Thought Leader Ads are powerful for solo founders

Thought Leader Ads can be a game-changer for solo founders. Here’s why they are especially powerful:

Low lift

Because LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads are essentially text ads, you don’t need fancy graphics or videos to launch them.

You’re simply adding your normal LinkedIn posts to an existing campaign in LinkedIn Campaign Manager and ‘boosting’ it to a wider audience.

You can quickly test out brand messaging before upgrading to another ad format like Conversation Ads, Document Ads, Message Ads, and other forms of sponsored content.

Builds personal brand and creates trust

People trust individuals more than brands. 

As a solo founder, your personal brand is closely tied to your company’s success. 

Thought Leader Ads help you showcase your expertise and vision by sharing your journey, challenges, and successes.

Your story becomes more relatable and inspiring, building a strong personal brand.

Sharing your strategic decisions and future plans demonstrates your capability as a leader and can attract investors, partners, and customers.

And sharing case studies or success stories can attract new prospects, leading to increased sales and growth.

Enhances engagement and builds community

Thought Leader Ads from a solo founder feel more personal and authentic, leading to higher engagement rates.

Sharing personal anecdotes or industry insights can drive more comments, likes, and shares, increasing your reach.

Engaging with these comments can help you build a supportive community around your brand.

You might have experienced higher engagement on your personal profile compared to your company page.

This is because most LinkedIn Pages have become pay-to-play channels – you need to constantly boost posts to get any traction.

Thought Leader Ads combine the power of personal profile content with added paid distribution.

Cost-effective marketing

Solo founders often have limited marketing budgets. 

Thought Leader Ads can be a cost-effective way to reach a large audience.

Leveraging your personal network and LinkedIn’s targeting options allows you to maximize your marketing efforts without a huge budget.

In sum, Thought Leader Ads are a powerful tool for solo founders. 

They help build your personal brand, create trust, enhance engagement, and drive business growth. 

How long does it take to see results from Thought Leader Ads?

Seeing results from Thought Leader Ads can vary based on several factors. 

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

Initial engagement: a few days

You might see initial likes, comments, and shares as soon as the ad goes live. 

Early engagement is a good sign that your content is resonating. 

Expect this within the first few days to a week.

Building visibility: about a month

As more people interact with your ads, your visibility will increase. 

You’ll start to see more profile views, connection requests, and follows. 

Expect this within 2 to 4 weeks.

Establishing credibility: 1-3 months

Consistent posting and engagement help build your credibility. 

People will start to see you as a thought leader in your field. 

Track the thought leadership metrics relevant to your business over 1 to 3 months.

Growing your network: 3-6 months

Over time, your network will grow as more people connect with you based on your valuable insights and content. 

Track your follower growth and connection requests over 3-6 months.

Generating leads and opportunities: 6+ months

LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads can lead to increased inquiries, business opportunities, and collaborations. 

Patience and consistency are key to seeing long-term benefits. 

Depending on your product and sales cycle (and assuming you’ve been on top of your content game), expect a consistent stream of leads within 6 months.

Factors that can influence the timeline and speed up results

  • Ad spend: Investing a larger budget can increase your reach and speed up results.
  • Quality of content: High-quality, valuable content will naturally attract more engagement. Regularly posting insightful articles, tips, and personal stories will speed up results. Get ideas in our LinkedIn posts article.
  • Quantity of posting: The more LinkedIn posts you have in circulation, the better your chances. Craft different posts about your company, team, product, and customers and add them to your campaign.
  • Audience targeting: Reaching the right audience ensures your content resonates and drives engagement. Use LinkedIn’s targeting options to reach specific job titles, industries, and interests.
  • Engagement with followers: Interacting with your audience builds relationships and trust. Responding to comments and messages promptly can enhance your credibility and connection with your audience.

By creating high-quality content often and engaging with your audience, you can steadily build your presence and achieve your business goals on LinkedIn.

How much do Thought Leader Ads cost?

The base cost of a LinkedIn campaign is USD 10/day.

However, the cost of Thought Leader Ads on LinkedIn can vary greatly depending on several factors. 

Any suitable campaign type that allows you to promote a LinkedIn user’s content (in this case, your executives’ content) will do.

So for example, an Engagement ad campaign for videos will let you promote any video your executive(s) post to their profiles.

Here’s an overview of what influences the cost and how you might budget for these ads:

Campaign objective

Different objectives, such as brand awareness, lead generation, or engagement, have different costs associated with achieving them.

Brand awareness campaigns might cost less per impression, while lead generation could cost more per lead.

Target audience

The more specific and competitive the audience, the higher the cost.

Targeting high-level executives in a competitive industry like tech or finance, may be more expensive than more general audience targeting.

Ad duration

The length of time you run your ad impacts the total cost.

A longer campaign will cost more in total, though the daily budget might be spread out.

Bid strategy

LinkedIn uses a bidding system for ads, where you can choose cost per click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM).

Opting for CPC might be cost-effective if you’re aiming for high engagement, whereas CPM could be better for broad brand awareness.

Content quality and engagement

Higher quality content that engages well can lower your cost per engagement over time as LinkedIn rewards engaging content with better placement.

This means ads that receive more likes, comments, and shares may ultimately cost less per interaction due to better performance.

Typical budgeting

Start with a small budget to test different formats and messages, such as $300-$500.

If the ads perform well, gradually increase the budget to amplify reach and impact.

For continuous engagement, companies might spend anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per month depending on the scale, number of thought leaders they’re promoting, and the company’s objectives.

Budget tips

  • Set clear objectives: Know what you want to achieve and set your budget accordingly.
  • Monitor and adjust: Keep an eye on performance and adjust your spend based on what’s working.
  • Optimize targeting: Refine your audience targeting to ensure you’re reaching the right people without wasting money.

The cost of Thought Leader Ads is flexible and can be adapted to suit various budgets and goals. 

By starting small, monitoring performance, and adjusting your strategy, you can make the most of your investment and achieve significant impact on LinkedIn.

Final thoughts

Thought Leader Ads are a powerful tool for enhancing your presence and engagement on LinkedIn. 

They allow you to leverage the authentic voices of your leaders to build trust, create deeper connections, and achieve your business goals. 

Whether you are a solo founder or part of a larger company, Thought Leader Ads can help you stand out and connect with your audience in meaningful ways. 

By understanding when and how to use these ads, as well as managing costs and expectations, you can maximize their effectiveness and see substantial benefits for your brand. 

Contact us for help with setting up Thought Leader Ads to grow your LinkedIn presence and business.

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