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Show Transcript

You’re about to be a true hacker, because on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show, I’m teaching you my hacks for flawlessly launching Thought Leader Ads.

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey, they’re LinkedIn Ads fanatics. As he said, I’m AJ Wilcox, and I’m the host of the weekly podcast, The LinkedIn Ads Show. I’m thrilled to welcome you to the show for advanced B2B marketers to evolve through mastering LinkedIn Ads and achieving true pro status. Now maybe you’ve already launched Thought Leader Ads.

Maybe you’ve tried and found it difficult and never actually launched, or somewhere in between. Well, no matter what your experience level, I’m I have to admit, it can be pretty janky to launch Thought Leader Ads. They’re kind of difficult, but they perform so well, that going through whatever hoops we need to are totally worth it.

So I’m going to share my hacks for launching thought leader ads without a hinge.

The LinkedIn Ads Show is brought to you by B2Linked. com. We are the ad agency 100 percent dedicated to LinkedIn Ads. And we have been since 2014, you know, back before it was cool. We’ve mastered the platform and have figured out how to get you the best traffic that LinkedIn has to offer at the very lowest costs.

Lower than you’re supposed to be paying. Which, on a platform that charges a premium, is the very best way we’ve found to increase your return on investment. We’ve even built reporting capabilities internally that LinkedIn themselves can’t provide. So, all of that to show you we give our clients the very best insights. If that sounds interesting to you and you want to explore possibly working together, schedule your free discovery call at

All right, very first off in the news, I got two really interesting emails from LinkedIn this week, and we’ve covered a few of these before, as these kinds of things happen. But LinkedIn sent not one but two emails about actively offering credits to advertisers who are affected by certain inconsistencies. So one of these emails was a LinkedIn ads credit available for LinkedIn cropping on iOS single image ads between October 24th and November 21st of 2023. We manage lots of different accounts, so, this could be a decent gauge as to how many people were affected here. We only had three accounts that were affected here as a result. So that’s really interesting to note. The next one was a LinkedIn ads credit available for sponsored message ads, where LinkedIn left out the call to action button. This was between September 27th and October 11th of 2023.

And interestingly enough, only one account that we were running was affected by that. What I absolutely love about this is this is LinkedIn, you know, six months later after something, you know, a problem occurred, they’re reaching out and saying, Hey, we’re, we proactively want to give you a credit for this, to refund you for the problem that you had, this would be so easy for a large corporation to just sweep under the rug and just say, Oops, hope no one noticed, but I absolutely love that LinkedIn does this. It makes me feel really good about being a LinkedIn advertiser. So, LinkedIn’s product team, thank you for doing this. There was also a new report that was launched by Social Insider. They’re a tool that does like scheduling and stuff on the organic side. They ran a big study specifically about LinkedIn engagement and content. To let us know what we can and should be doing better. What I wanted to point out here is all of the things that they talk about specifically of what is getting engagement on LinkedIn on the organic side.

These are all lessons that we can learn on how to do things better on the ad side. So I’m going to take you through the six main key takeaways that this report had. And of course, if you want to read the whole report, the link’s down below in the show notes section. So check that out.

So number one, they mentioned that the engagement rate on LinkedIn has increased by 44 percent year over year. That means from 2022 to 2023, I’m guessing I might have to go check out the, read the document a little bit better, but they said year over year, the engagement on posts has gone up by 44%. I think what leads to this is more and more people are coming back to LinkedIn more often, more usage, more engagement. All of this is great for us as advertisers, because for advertisers, we need engagement, people creating, you know, being on LinkedIn, which creates more ad inventory, and as there’s more ad inventory for all of us, then costs can come down, competition doesn’t keep peaking and spiking. So this is great.

Key takeaway number two, multi image posts generated the highest amount of likes and comment.

Now, of course, on ads, we can’t create multi image posts. We could use carousel, but please don’t. But what we can use are, are Document Ads. And we have seen that these do really, really well. If a post is so engaging that it gets a lot of likes and comments. I think it’s telling us the best way that we can engage our prospects that we’re advertising to, consider using this format.

Alright, takeaway number three. Videos are the most shared content type on LinkedIn. So on the ad side, we get the metric that says how often our ads were shared, but we can’t ever see who shared it, or, or the results of those shares, anything like that, that does, is not available to us. But if you are interested in getting content that gets re-shared, video is very much an ad type that you should consider.

Takeaway number four, brands have increased their posting frequency on LinkedIn by 10 percent in 2024. So this stat does say 2024, so I’m gonna guess that even though we’re not too far into 2024, these are stats from 2024 compared to 2023. Or at least a chunk of, of 2024 with 2023. You get it. Okay, cool.

This means that brands are getting it. They’re coming to LinkedIn. And with it comes ad dollars that are all increasing what we see in the news feed as well as our pricing. Maybe now this is just a takeaway here, but just understanding brands are finally getting it. LinkedIn is the place to be. So I think it means you’re in the right place.

Takeaway number five. Polls generate the highest impression rate on LinkedIn. All right. So we don’t have a poll that we can use for LinkedIn Ads. No big deal. This helps you on the organic side. If you want the highest number of impressions, which means this content is the most viral considering either as your company or as an individual launching a poll.

Takeaway number six from this report, posts with multiple images and short captions have the highest engagement rate. I think this kind of goes with what we were talking about before with multi image posts. Again, the only way we have access to this as advertisers is Carousel Ads. Boo! Or Document Ads. Hooray! Do use Document Ads.

All right, if you are not a member of the LinkedIn Ads fanatics community, what are you waiting for? Here’s an example of something that one of our LinkedIn Ads fanatics shared. And this is specifically Will Martin. He shared a screenshot that was sent to one of his clients on LinkedIn, and it says, Test a new video experience on LinkedIn. They said it’s a limited beta for a dedicated video tab on LinkedIn, tailored specifically for short form vertical video. Alright, so we’re not quite sure what this means for LinkedIn Ads yet. Maybe this is just a temporary, a quick test to see if LinkedIn can compete with TikTok. with having a, a never ending scroll of short video content, but maybe this is something where, short form vertical video ads can make it into that stream. So, more to come on that as we learn more, but this is a test that some people will see in their LinkedIn app, so check for it.

Also, another member of the fanatics community shared a post, this is Anthony Blatner from Austin, Texas. Thank you! He shared that we can now add lead forms to organic boosted posts. Now, I haven’t seen this yet, but I did link to Anthony’s post down in the show notes, so go check that out if you want to see more information on that.

I really hope that in the near future, we’ll be able to add lead forms to any ad type, but, this right here is a good clue that maybe this is going to happen, at least for boosted posts, which make boosted posts more powerful.

Alright, do you have a question, a review, or feedback for the show? You can either message me privately on LinkedIn, or email us at And attach a link to a voice recording from you, and I can play it right here on the show. I’m happy to keep you anonymous or shout you out publicly. So record yourself asking a question, commenting, giving a review, whatever you want to do.

We do have a recording today from Max Eccles. He’s a digital marketing specialist from Binder in the Netherlands.

The LinkedIn Ads Show and AJ’s content in general has been some of the most insanely useful and actionable source of tips, tricks and news when it comes to running campaigns on LinkedIn. I’ve tried a lot of the strategies and a lot of the tips that AJ suggested in my own campaigns and I’ve seen really great results so really glad to have found the show and really recommend it.

Max, thanks so much for leaving a review and I love the audio quality. It sounds like you have a studio there. That’s great. More than anything, I’m so grateful that you’ve taken many of the tips and tricks that I’ve shared here and implemented them to get better performance. That is, after all, the goal.

For all of you else, I want to feature you here, so send me audio files, leave reviews, especially on Apple Podcasts. Those are by far the best ways that you can help us out, help support us, so we can keep supporting you.

Alright, without further ado, let’s hit it.

Let’s get on to the hacks for launching Thought Leader Ads. This is my whole process. This is everything I take into account to make sure that when I go and launch Thought Leader Ads, I have zero hangups. This is a flawless launch. Now I can share these things with you because I have made every mistake that there is to make.

First off, start with the post itself. Go inspect the post that you want to sponsor as a Thought Leader Ad. What you’re looking for here is the format. What kind of post is this? Because thought leader ads have to be one of only three types. It has to be either text only, single image, or video.

Otherwise, it’s an absolute no go. We had a client this week who had a post that had multiple images. Sorry, it was a no go. We can’t promote that post. We had to end up asking them to repost with only one of the images attached. That’s just how it is with Thought Leader Ads.

I hope we get additional formats in the future, but it has to be one of those three.

Okay, once you know the format, now go and actually create the campaign in LinkedIn Campaign Manager that you want to sponsor it within. The first question is going to be, which objective do you want to use? Now, super important to understand, you can only use one of two objectives on LinkedIn for Thought Leader Ads.

The first possible objective is brand awareness. Yuck. Don’t use that one. Instead, use engagement. That’s my preferred one.

Then you choose your targeting, but actually hold off on choosing the targeting for right now. This is just going to be saved as a draft and you’ll understand why here in a moment. Skip then down to the ad format section because your ad format has to match the format of the post that you looked at.

So if the post is either a single image ad or it’s text only, then choose the ad format of single image. If it’s video, you have to choose video. Otherwise, when you get to the next step and you say, I want to sponsor a post, that post won’t show up.

Okay, save the campaign, move on to the next step before you do anything with your targeting. Don’t waste time here, and here’s exactly why. What you do is you go and click, I want to create a post from existing content. And then click on the little button that says LinkedIn members. And that’s when you get to go search for a LinkedIn member by name that I think you have to be either a first or a second level connection to. So hack number one, send a connection request to this person ahead of time. So that, or, or at least, be within two degrees with them. And that’s going to help you here. I probably shouldn’t mention that one earlier, but that’s okay. Add that to your list of hacks, your, your launch checklist here.

All right. So now you want to go down and find the post. And because before you can even add the post to the campaign, you have to send an approval request to that person. You’ll send them an email and say, hey, do you want to give permission to this company to be able to use this post?

So if they are a current employee of yours, it probably makes sense to shoot them an email separately, just so that they are expecting this email. Because the email looks super innocuous, they might miss it.

If this is a non employee, you probably want to reach out to them anyway, because if you just get a random request for someone to use your post, you’re probably not going to approve it. You probably have to have some kind of an offline relationship there.

It’s also going to give you the link that you can send in an email to this person. So in case they missed the email, they can click your link and then get through the approval process. When they get this email or when they click on this link It’s very, very clear what to do. They click on it and they say, yes, I want to grant approval here. But you want to tell them, look in the upper right hand corner, because up there is a toggle called auto approval. If you can get them to toggle that, you never have to go through this process ever again.

All right. So you’re doing this ahead of time and you haven’t even finished your targeting yet in your campaign because this process takes time. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten all the way through the process, got to where I was ready to publish the post, just to go, and realize, I can’t publish until I get permission, and I also don’t get notified when that permission is given, so I have to keep this window open all day and refresh it in hopes that, all of a sudden this post is going to show up, and I’m going to be able to launch the campaign.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened. Actually, I can. It’s happened twice. Twice I’ve got to this point, and the CEO never saw the email, my point of contact was too distant in the organization from the CEO, so we ended up with this campaign that didn’t actually ever launch, even though we had a great post. If we had permissions to launch it, we would have, it would have performed well.

So do yourself a favor, do this ahead of time, send the approval request, get it back, then you can go back and do everything you want to your campaign.

Now we have also had an experience where we looked back through an employee’s post. It was actually my own, and I thought it was a bug because posts older than about two months ago, weren’t even showing up as an option. And so I actually reached out to LinkedIn and said, Hey, I have client posts that are going out a year. Why can I only see two months? And the answer I got back was, Oh, posts don’t show up if they haven’t had interactions for a while. So here’s my hack for you. If you go to sponsor this post, and you don’t see it there, but you know you’ve chosen the right objective, you know you’ve chosen the right ad type, probably what’s happened is this post has gone dormant. And it’s probably about two months without some sort of engagement, which is why we were, or maybe three months. So call it a quarter. So here’s a hack for you. If it’s not showing up. Go to that post, you can either like your own post, or like someone’s comment in it, or leave a comment, something like that. What that’s gonna do is it’s going to reinvigorate the post, and now because it’s had engagement recently, it’ll show up eligible to be sponsored. I haven’t tested this to see how long it takes from interaction until it shows up. It might be minutes, it might be hours, it might be days. I don’t know, but test it, I would absolutely love to hear from you, if you saw it show up really quickly, or maybe not at all.

Another crucial point in your checklist here, because at this point, you’ve been able to select the creative, launch it, you are off to the races with your Thought Leader Ads. Make sure you add this point to your checklist, though. You’re going to go into your retargeting audiences, which are your single image interaction audiences and your video view audiences. And you’re going to go include the interactions from this campaign. Cause you just created a new, either single image campaign or a new video campaign. And if you don’t include these campaigns in those retargeting audiences, then all of these interactions are going to waste. So put this as your permanent checklist. Every time I launch a campaign, I’m going to go and make sure that campaign is added to the retargeting audiences that are going to keep building. Retargeting audiences on LinkedIn are more important now than they’ve ever been. You need them. Don’t miss this step.

As for bidding options, you know I’m a huge proponent of bid manual and bid low because your click through rate needs to be over 1 percent for max delivery to make sense. But the vast majority of these Thought Leader Ads that we’ve launched get well over 1 percent click through rates. So, here’s what I would propose.

I would say, start these on maximum delivery bidding, assuming that they’re going to get over a 1 percent click through rate. If they don’t, if you’re watching them for three straight business days, and it’s getting under 1 percent because, for some reason, that post is not engaging, that’s when I would suggest go back. This only works on the engagement objective, not brand awareness, which is why I don’t recommend brand awareness. Switch back to manual CPC and bid low.

Okay, so these Thought Leader Ads are so powerful, but they are not fully baked yet. They are brand new, and then I really feel like there’s going to be a lot of new features coming.

So here’s my wishlist. LinkedIn product team, I know you’re listening to this. You don’t even have to schedule time with me. This is my wishlist for what I want Thought Leader Ads to have and become here in the future. First off, I want an easier launch. I want some sort of library where I can go and select the post and then tell it kind of like we get for boosted posts on a company page. If you’re a company page admin, I want there to be a boost button on personal posts, that it will send me through a campaign wizard. It will either tell me, you are not able to boost this post because it doesn’t fit the criteria, or, choose your objective, choose your ad type, or maybe it doesn’t even let me choose the ad type, it’s just the objective, and then I’m going.

That would be so much faster and easier, and not waste any time creating a campaign that won’t be eligible to launch this post. The next thing I really want is, we’re limited to only brand awareness and engagement objective. I really want a website visits objective. If the goal of a Thought Leader Ad is to get you to click onto a link, to go to a landing page, to go to the website, I want to be able to sponsor that through, through a website visits objective.

And we talk about how cheap Thought Leader Ads are at like $1 to $3 per click, which sounds great. But when these are in the engagement objective, A click is any kind of interaction with the post. That could be clicking on a hashtag that takes you to content that you don’t own. That can be a click to the company page, a click on the see more, I want to see more of the post.

All of these things are things you pay for. If you actually go and calculate, what’s my cost per link click? That’s obviously much more expensive. And so that’s why I want the website visits objective for Thought Leader Ads. Please grant that to us. Thank you very much.

My biggest nag that I have with both boosted posts and Thought Leader Ads is you boost the post or you, you promote the Thought Leader Ad and it’s gone.

You get zero options there. With all the other posts, I get an ad name field where I get to give it some sort of name that I can find in the ad platform later. And identify somehow, we don’t get that. So when I’m trying to collect data and find data on Thought Leader Ads, it’s takes two extra steps. It’s really difficult and through the API. So if you’re, you’re pulling, if you’re working through a data partner, like a super metrics or something like that, there is no way to identify which posts are our thought leader ads. So please give us this ability to add an ad name to our boosts.

Going along with that, if there’s a URL with that thought leader ad or that boosted post, I want to be able to customize that URL, different UTM parameters, because when it ran with the original parameters or maybe no parameters at all, it got some interaction organically, but now that we’re putting dollars behind it, I want to make sure that I have trackable UTM parameters that will go into my CRM that will go into analytics and classify that traffic because now I’m paying for it. I wasn’t paying for it before.

Okay, my next ask here are lead forms. We talked about how lead forms are now getting paired with an organic boosted post. Let’s get those on Thought Leader ads as well, because why not? There’s no downside. And along with this, I want to be able to do all ad formats with thought leader ads. Did the client put three images on there? Great. Did the client do a document post? Yeah, let’s do a document Thought Leader Ad. Polls? Yes, please. Give them all to us. That’s not going to be that hard.

I also went to go visit one of my own thought leader ads where I had video running and in my video, I include burned in, animated captions, because those, the video perform a lot better. Huge hint, like we talked about this in the Chandler Quinton episode. Make sure you’re including those. But what LinkedIn did is it didn’t see a srt file associated. So it said, oh, we’re going to automatically put captions on your video for you. And now there’s two sets of captions. There’s the animated ones that are then covered up by the super boring ones. So please LinkedIn, sense whether there are subtitles burned into the video before you automatically apply the boring ugly ones.

All right. Are there any nags that you have about Thought Leader ads or requests that you want to ask LinkedIn for? Message us. Send me something on, on LinkedIn over Messenger. Record yourself talking about it. Send me something on podcast, whatever you’ve got. I’d absolutely love to hear it and be able to, to pass it on or cover it in the next episode.

Okay. Like we talked about the LinkedIn engagement report that was done by Social Insider. There’s a link in the show notes for that. There’s also a link to Anthony Blattner’s post about adding lead forms to organic boosted content. And then if you haven’t joined the LinkedIn Ads fanatics community, what are you waiting for? Go to For a very low monthly fee, you’ll be in the community with so many other like minded LinkedIn Ads experts. Plus you’ll have access to all four of our courses, taking you from absolute beginner to absolute LinkedIn Ads pro. Now, if this is your first time listening, welcome, we’re so excited to have you here and welcome you. Make sure to hit that subscribe button. If this is great content you want to hear next week, it’s the best thing you can do. Make sure you’re getting LinkedIn Ads updates right in those ear holes. Now, if this is not your first time listening, you’re a loyal listener, Thank you so much! I love having you here. But the best thing you can do for us is go and review us on Apple Podcasts. That’s going to help other LinkedIn Ads fanatics find the show. And it’s the best compliment you can pay me. With any questions, suggestions, or corrections, reach out to us at And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. I’m cheering you on and your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.