LinkedIn’s Finally Offering a Feature Others Already Have

How the platform is embracing influencer marketing and what healthcare can do about it.

LinkedIn is expanding Thought Leader Ads to allow companies to sponsor content from any eligible member—a significant development from the initial roll out, where sponsorship was limited to only company employees.

What Are Thought Leader Ads?

Introduced last June, Thought Leader Ads were positioned as an opportunity “to build brand equity by sponsoring your thought leaders’ posts.” This meant that a company employee could publish a post from a personal page organically, which could then, with their consent, be promoted to a targeted audience by that company via paid media. This was an exciting, long-awaited moment for brands, as it now allowed companies to amplify an individual’s content directly and measurably at scale, rather than rely on a business handle. The thinking was that users would rather engage with a person over a faceless brand.

Introducing New Voices

While Thought Leader Ads have proven to be a very effective ad format, the initial rollout also showed that a company promoting only the faces of its own executives could still be perceived as limiting. LinkedIn members want to hear from and engage with their peers. It’s these real voices that build credibility, familiarity, and trust among the community. Until now, amplifying these unique voices on LinkedIn to the right people, at the right time, and in a quantifiable way has been challenging.

With this latest expansion, however, companies will be able to more effectively spotlight almost anyone they want to help tell their story—most notably, key opinion leaders.

Employees will continue to be valuable messengers for executive thought leadership, but it will be these new, outside voices that take marketing and communication strategies to the next level. This is real, scalable influencer marketing on a powerful, stable, and growing platform.

Pay Attention, Healthcare

LinkedIn is an established player in healthcare communications, strengthened by the turmoil surrounding what once was Twitter and the great migration away from it. Companies that don’t capitalize on this opportunity risk being seen as a one-way megaphone and may inevitably struggle to keep up with the competition.

A few important elements to consider:
Messaging Identify the right external voice and moment for partnership, so that it feels strongly
connected to the larger narrative and is used to help achieve a particular objective.

Programming Key Opinion Leader (KOL) marketing has never been as tangible or direct on LinkedIn.
Consider when and where this tactic would be most effective, for what audience, how it may impact existing KOL or off-platform influencer programs, and any changes to content strategy.

Targeting Whether targeting healthcare practitioners, researchers, or key decision-makers, build a detailed targeting plan based on specific demographics, interests, and job titles, and consider where this product would fit within a larger media strategy.

Non-employee Thought Leader Ads are rolling out globally now. While their full impact and how they could influence important business and treatment decisions will not be known for some time, now is the time to take a fresh look at who tells your story.

  • Josh Vogel
    Josh Vogel

    Vice President, Digital Health, Burson

    Josh is an experienced digital strategist, embedded within Burson’s healthcare practice. Since joining Burson in 2016, Josh has leveraged his deep understanding of social media and the regulatory landscape to help global brands innovate within the highly complex vertical. He can be reached at josh.vogel@bcw-global.com.

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