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Promote Your Executives: A Guide to LinkedIn’s Thought Leader Ads

Many social media platforms give users the ability to promote or sponsor a post. Whatever the terminology you want to use, the process and purpose are similar: put some ad dollars behind an organic post and push it to a more targeted audience that may not see the post organically.

It’s not quite the same as other paid ad campaigns since a promoted post starts out as organic content, but once you’ve boosted your post, you can expect to see more impressions and engagement as it gets shared with a wider audience.

This feature is available on LinkedIn and is called “boosting” (read more about boosting a post here). Marketers can select an organic post shared on their company page, set a budget, and boost it to a defined audience.

However, while marketers can boost posts on a company’s LinkedIn page, there was never the option to boost posts from company employees — until now, that is!

Keep reading to learn more about LinkedIn’s thought leader ads, how we’ve used them, and how they can be a complementary part of your digital marketing program!


What Are LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads?

Launched in early 2023, LinkedIn’s Thought Leader ads is a new product that lets marketers boost or sponsor posts created by their company’s employees. In other words, these are organic posts on an individual user’s feed, rather than a post that’s been shared on the company’s LinkedIn feed. (Update! As of April 2024, LinkedIn will be opening up Thought Leader ads to all users — in other words, you can sponsor another user’s post even if they’re not an employee).

As its name suggests, the purpose of these ads is to promote thought leadership and position individuals as experts in their industry. If you’re not sure what thought leadership is, we recently shared this article on our blog, What is Executive Thought Leadership (and Why it Matters). Be sure to give it a read to learn more!


Should You Use Thought Leader Ads?

As we’ve touched on in our previous articles on executive social media content, posts by an executive tend to come across as more authentic and relatable compared to content shared on a company page. CEOs and other business leaders who use social media strategically often help to humanize the brand and reach new audiences who may not be following the company’s social media profiles. Thought leadership helps to position the executive — and, by extension, the company — as experts in the industry.

If your marketing budget allows, should you consider boosting posts from your executive?

First, consider which executive you would want to promote. While your first thought might be your CEO or company founder, there may be more effective alternatives based on the business objectives you want to achieve. For additional tips, check out our previous article, Choosing the Right Executive for Social Media.

We believe LinkedIn Thought Leader ads can be an effective complement to your existing executive social media program and brand digital marketing program. However, we view Thought Leader ads as more of an add-on, rather than the central piece of your digital marketing strategy. As of right now, LinkedIn’s Thought Leader ads have somewhat limited features when compared to their more robust company ad products.

For instance, at the time of writing, only brand awareness and engagement can be selected as the ad objective, and only posts with single images or videos can be promoted. Not being able to boost a post with a newsletter or document/PDF (which many use to create a makeshift “carousel”) is a major limitation, especially since this format has done so well with traditional LinkedIn ad offerings. Read about additional Thought Leader ad limitations here.


Here’s Our LinkedIn Thought Leader Ad Strategy…

We’ve tested LinkedIn’s Thought Leader ads with one of our executive clients so far, while many others have expressed interest in starting this paid program to complement their existing organic social media program.

During the first two weeks of our test, the sponsored organic posts from the executive reached almost 45,000 impressions!

What was our strategy? We focused on sponsoring insightful posts that linked back to the company website. In that way, the posts not only promoted the executive as a thought leader but also funneled more traffic toward the website.


Are LinkedIn Thought Leader Ads Right For You?

While we think LinkedIn Thought Leader ads are an exciting new addition that can greatly enhance an executive social media program, there are some things to keep in mind.

First, not everyone will have access to Thought Leader ads. Plus, marketers must have access to their company’s existing LinkedIn Campaign Manager. Marketers must also coordinate with the executive because when boosting a post, the original poster will get a notification and must approve in order to allow their post to be sponsored.

LinkedIn tends to add more features to its ad products as time goes on, so we’re excited to see how Thought Leader ads evolve! If you’re interested in launching an organic or paid social media program for your executive, click the button below and set up a consultation with one of our executive social media experts.