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How LinkedIn Just Made Ten Million People Feel Special (keen.io)
110 points by mwetzler on Feb 7, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments

They failed quite spectacularly for me:

"congratulations! You were one of our first 500,000 members to register in Iceland."

Iceland - population of 300,000.

Facebook must be hell in Iceland: "We found the following 290,999 people who might be related to you" ;-)

I think they mean that, out of their first 500,000 members, you were one of the first to register in Iceland. As in, you were one of the first people in Iceland to sign up for LinkedIn, and you did it very early.

Then they still failed at English.

"You were one of our first 500,000 members to register in Romania." He may be not out of their first 500 000 members and i think that applies to me too :). Something fishy with this message ... Result, no importance given or we both could call linkedin contact to see what's this about.

LinkedIn are the kings of this sort of misleading information. I find it quite annoying but I suspect it is probably effective for them.

See also: the way they play with the "how many people have clicked on your profile in that last XYZ days" to always make it seem like you've got a lot of people clicking.

It is not misleading information, it is brilliant marketing. Gotta give them that.

The fact that it is effective marketing doesn't nullify the fact that it is misleading. In fact, those two properties go hand-in-hand most of the time (though not always).

How is it misleading? Saying that someone is in the "Top 5%" most viewed profiles is pretty straightforward. Just because there are a lot of people in the top 5% doesn't make it "misleading".

It is misleading because it is clearly playing off the fact that most people won't do the math and will think 5% puts them in an elite group.

Misleading doesn't necessarily mean lying.

That's silly. "Doing the math" doesn't change how "elite" your status is, because "elite" is relative to the size of the total group being considered, just like percentages are. If you're in the top 3 of your high school graduating class that only had 3 people in it, does that make you part of an elite group? I think not.

Those people still were viewed more than 95% of all the rest, it doesn't matter if it's a group of 100, 1,000 or 1 million people - still pretty impressive.

Now I'm wondering what I need to do to market myself there...

Consider how many LinkedIn users are active. Probably fewer than 25%. I'm guessing the top 10% are the people who use LinkedIn a few times per month (like I do).

People who use LinkedIn actively will get way more views since they will be adding connections and viewing other people's pages more (LinkedIn emails people your contact info if you view their page).

At first, being top 5% made me feel popular. But considering the pool includes users who created an account 3 years ago and haven't touched it since, I'm not so sure.

Not disimilar to somebody informing me the other day that I'm in the top 2% of HN users by karma. Objectively pointless, and subjectively relies on ignoring the thousands of old or throwaway accounts to boost my ego (which is already healthy enough).

What is misleading about the number of people who have viewed your profile information?

One game they play is with the interval measured. "X people in the last 5 days," then next session, "Y people in the last 7 days," or "Z people in the last 10 days." They're putting gamification where it's not needed, seemingly just to say they're doing it.

And then charging you to see who those people are.

I'm routinely surprised by how religiously some of my LinkedIn connections update their profiles. For many of them, it's surely their primary social network.

LinkedIn is basically a contact list for me. I've always found the site cluttered and a bit clumsy, not something I want to use. Though, I do get some amusement out of seeing people predictably check my profile after meeting for the first time.

Things like the newish endorsement feature actually bother me. It's all very gamey, counters and "XP bars" everywhere begging your effort to make them increment.

I certainly understand such carrots to induce more people to make more connections, have more engagement with the site and ideally drop $240-900/yr. for premium accounts.

Personally, I'd be more inclined to do that if I thought connections, endorsements, profile views and whatnot were actually meaningful.

As it is, the only thing that seems to demonstrate any real effort/connection are recommendations which are given no more priority in the activity feed than endorsements and appear towards the bottom of profiles.

The new skill endorsements are hilariously pointless - back when I had it enabled I didn't see a single person endorse me for skills they actually know about, but plenty of people were using it pointlessly. People I know but haven't worked directly with in those areas. I remember I had a meeting a month ago with two people I'd never met before, a day later we were connections, a day later they both endorsed me for a bunch of stuff from "PR" to "events management" - how did they even think they could justify clicking those things for me?

However LinkedIn is still pretty good at letting you get what you want out of it. I've not yet spoken to anyone who doesn't share my/your view of "these skill endorsements are hilariously dumb", and consequently we've disabled them - no longer are they seen on my profile, nor do I get emails about people endorsing me.

Number of profile views isn't meaningful, but who viewed your profile can be - I'm one of the ones dropping $500/yr on my account, I'd say 60% of my reasoning is for the InMails, 20% is seeing exactly who viewed my profile, 20% is that whether it's logical or not, people who don't know you do look at the little premium badge on your profile and think very slightly differently of you.

This is my favorite skill endorsement: "Does Brendan Eich know about JavaScript?"


I'm constantly entertained by the number of people that endorse me either for (1) skills I wouldnt claim to have or (2) skills that I may have but they would not be in a position to judge.

I figured many of my pointless endorsements came from people clicking "sure, whatever" on LinkedIn's "You should endorse X for Y" pop up, probably just to make it go away.

I only get endorsements from people who have no idea what I really do.

Trafficlight, amorphid has endorsed you in crime fighting.

Return the favor! Does amorphid know organic cat grooming?

You're laughing, but the other day LinkedIn actually asked me to endorse one of my contacts for "Crime fighting".

Is your contact named Bruce Wayne?

No, but he is a police officer.

This is Genius because Linkedin has been working really hard on one feature that could possibly make a lot of users upgrade.

The fact that we always want to know who "peaked" at our profiles (I'm sure half of your secretly wanted to know at some point of your life who looked at your facebook profile right?) leads people to upgrade.

A funny thing happened to me a few months ago, I was browsing linkedin and landed on a old client's profile and I was wondering what was going on with him and his projects.

A few hours later I got an email from him saying that he got a notification that I was viewing his profile and that made him wondered what is going on with me (and our company). That interaction made me think that this single feature is genius, it helps reconnect with people (some will argue that it might be creepy).

> we always want to know who "peaked" at our profiles

They piqued your interest in who peeked at your profile -- it worked, your interest has peaked.


That was picky.

I feel suddenly so left out. :)

I actually do my best to minimize my appearance in search. No job descriptions besides titles, no skills, no visible endorsements, no recommendations. I basically use LinkedIn to keep track of ex-colleagues, but that does not stop recruiters from still finding and contacting me.

Smart marketing move. LinkedIn just made 10 million people wonder, if they are in the top 5% of most viewed profiles, who exactly did view their profile? Curious to see how many users end up converting to Pro from this "spam".

Apparently, their marketing efforts try very hard to make everyone feel special: I've just received an email exactly like the one mentioned in the blog, congratulating me: "You were one of our first million members in Hong Kong." I don't even use LinkedIn, that's just a dummy account with no information.

I can imagine their marketing department trying very hard to make sure they find some kind of positively-sounding (but ultimately not very interesting) stat about every single account so they can justify sending that email to everyone.

> Then I realized top 5% isn’t really that significant.

It's 1 out of 20. Is that significant or not? Depends on your perspective. But it certainly is not objectively insignificant.

> And I noticed from their letter that LinkedIn has 200M members. 5% of 200M is 10M.

And if there were 1B linkedin users, it would be even more. But 5% is still 1 out of 20. Again, if you find that impressive or not is up to you, but it is a very clear, nonmisrepresented percentage.

Obviously 5% is 1 in 20. But 5% of what? All accounts ever created on LinkedIn? Really curious about their MAU. I'd bet it's something like 20M. Meaning, if you're in the "top" you're really just one of the people that uses LinkedIn regularly :)

In any case I find the campaign to be extremely effective. Making 20M people feel special is impressive.

I got this email (as did millions of others) but the real surprise is that it doesn't mean much to make that by actual profile views. Thinking back I don't remember a month where I had more than maybe 100 people view my profile, average month was probably around 50-60. If you think about it, most people get that probably weekly on facebook and daily on twitter.

Sort of like the OkCupid emails which tell you you're a sexier member than most and you'll be displayed more prominently in search results. Humanity.

Sigh. That has never happened to me. But perhaps on that site, I should be more concerned with conversion rate when recipients respond. Need to make a bed-side Google Analytics plugin that tracks such transactions.

That team is really amazing with data too. Their work is so impressive.

I am the 5% :) Which is a shame, because I really don't like their service, and my spot would be better reserved for someone else.

I don't feel like I use it very much. I wonder how many of the 200M users are inactive. My guess is most of them. The top 10% is probably anyone who used LinkedIn more than a few times last year. Not to put a damper on your achievement :)

The only time I ever use it is if someone who I know is competent endorses me for something. I figure that person may be looking for a job, so I endorse them back to help them out.

Reminds me of the old Point "Top 5% of all web sites" award graphic that seemingly every website boasted in 1995. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycos_TOP_5%25

Pretty sure I was proudly touting one of those on my old tripod site :)

I'm in the top 1%, can I feel special ;)

P.S. Looks like at least two versions were sent out, one with 5% and another with 1% that I got. Were there other?

From a marketing standpoint it worked, since now people are talking about it.

I think a 10% email was sent out too, if I can believe one of my friends.

... And 190 million people feel not special :(

OKCupid does something similar with attractiveness: they email you to congratulate you if you're one of the top 50%. Based on all my friends who have bragged, it works. I always thought that was a great way to flatter people into using the site.

I came here to post this. I just found the email I received back when I was single, specifically on 10/12/11, and this is what it looked like: http://cl.ly/image/2A2N41383T38

This was clearly an ego boost, though not something you tweet about or post on Facebook (the taboo of online dating + sounding like a major douche).

OkCupid has been doing stuff like this with data for a really long time and they deserve some credit as well.

Based on the text they're going to recommend more attractive people to one another... I wonder if couples' attractiveness is highly correlated. That would be some interesting data. They should publish it.

It's alright brah, you posted your OKC e-mail instead on HN; so instead of major douche, it's a niche douche - which is what I'd rather be any day.

"The analytics team didn’t do a bad job crunching all that pageview data either."

I do not do a lot of analytics (ie close to nil). Is it really that hard to have a counter for the number of visits to each person's profile?

A counter is one way to do it, but they probably use event data because it is much richer and more powerful. I'm guessing they don't just store a generic tick every time someone views a page.

If they're doing it right, they're storing everything about the person viewing a page, and everything about the person whose page they are viewing, every time a page view happens. That way they can run analysis on the pages themselves as well as the page viewers' activities.

The reason it's impressive is that they have 200M users doing X number of page views per day, over the course of an entire year.

Let's say the average user does 1 pageview per day. 200M x 1 x 365 = 73B events.

Now they're sorting those 73B events by the pages viewed so they can sort out which pages got the most views.

It's not rocket science, but it's pretty cool IMO :)

200M daily active users?

Certainly not. Most users probably do 3 clicks per year. But some probably do many, many more.

1 pageview per user per day might be way off, but seems reasonable.

I actually got the same email for being in the "top 10%".

That looks straight out of the "commemorating another 5 years" token drawer of the BigCorps I worked for. Um, gag?

Talk about a skeumorphism better left behind...

More than that. My roommate received an email for being in the top 10%. Great marketing/reengagement strategy from LinkedIn though!

LinkedIn takes a lesson from OKCupid.

I got the 1% mail, which in my experience of 2012 means getting exponentially more recruiter spam

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