February 13

LinkedIn’s most viewed profiles for 2012 – spam or smart?

Blog, Marketing, News, Opinion


20130208 LI top 1pc emailLast Friday I received this congratulatory email from LinkedIn. I was initially flattered to be in the top percentile, then focused in on the reason behind the mailing – LinkedIn had “reached a new milestone: 200 million members”. Having done the maths, I shared a screenshot on Twitter and Facebook with the comment “Email from LinkedIn… Should I be flattered, or frightened?” The response was immediate and wide-ranging – a wonderful mixture of sincerity, skepticism and sarcasm!

It seems that there have been emails for 1%, 5% and 10%. People have been questioning the validity of the percentages attributed, and how special being one of 2 to 20 million really is. Spam? Or smart marketing?

Many have shared their top percentage on social media using the pre-typed messages provided alongside LinkedIn’s Senior Vice President of Products & User Experience’s letter (reached via “Read More” on the congratulations email)

20130208 LI top 1pc read more

and even when the congratulations haven’t been received in a sincere way, they have generated social media shares, competition and conversation









Of course LinkedIn has a feature, only available to Premium accounts, which enables those paid members to see who has recently viewed their profile. Members with Basic accounts are frequently sends teasers to “Upgrade… to see the full list”.

By congratulating the most viewed, this campaign has generated reaction (be it pride, envy, or cynicism) and discussion about what it means to be in those top percentiles… highlighting the paid-for feature, and potentially increasing curiosity and conversions. I wonder if LinkedIn will reveal how successful this campaign ends up being in terms of upgrades. 20 million emails could suggest spam, but I’m going with smart.

About the author 

Linda Cheung

Advising innovative companies on marketing and growth strategies. Founder at CubeSocial, Advisor at Oxford Innovation, Board member at Enterprise M3, Mentor at SETsquared.

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  1. Hi Linda,

    I know you’re always up for a good challenge, and so I’m going to take a different angle whilst also appreciating yours….

    I received a similar congratulatory/thank you email a couple of days ago, ranking me in the top 5% in 2012. Thank goodness recognition had finally come through! And then Reality shook me until I awoke and my view had cleared up….

    As much as I would have loved to have shared this seemingly propitious news with others, my memory interjected to remind me that only last month (January 2013) had I got round to fleshing out my profile page, and increasing attraction only since but not much action before then. The congratulatory email could either have been spam or (as I would rather describe it) a not-so-very-smart marketing tactic to warm up to existing LinkedIn members.

    On the assumption that the impugned email was not spam, as a ubiquitous social networking enabler, the high likelihood that, of its 200m-strong membership, a sizeable number would want to share such accolade with contacts on LinkedIn and on other (online) social networks, ought to have been a blindingly obvious pre-consideration. Over the past week, I have ‘eavesdropped’ on Twitter conversations in which the participating ‘tweeps’ have tweeted about their having ranked amongst the 2012 LinkedIn top 1%, 5% or 10% members respectively, only then to water down their ‘achievements’ upon hearing of many others speaking of the same ‘accomplishment’. Who wouldn’t want to share such good news of personal/professional influence in a convenient, purpose-designed social setting?

    I am a big fan of LinkedIn and its achievements to date are well-deserved. However, in an effort to share news of a great milestone reached and to personalise its ‘thank you’ for its individual members through direct contact means, the company inadvertently (and with much irony thrown in) exposed the impersonal nature and effect of the message by underestimating one of the key strengths of social media: facilitating conversations. This does not in any way take away from the fact that LinkedIn members have essentially contributed to ‘the rise and rise’ of the company over time. Unfortunately, the company appears to have chosen to dress up its message on this occasion in a peculiar white elephant costume.

    Conversely, this story has managed to engender talk about the company and so despite the misfire, perhaps some good has come out of this.

    We are all smart enough to identify something that does not reflect fact, and no real harm has been done. It is sometimes necessary to make mistakes (but to never repeat) on the road to enhancement, where valuable lessons can be learnt. Let’s just hope no one actually chose to add their ‘2012 LinkedIn ranking achievement’ to their profiles (unless, of course, they are genuinely that search-worthy).

    Live and learn!

    1. Thanks Ajeet. Agreed, lots of questions about the validity of the percentages – as mentioned above, my networks were quick to respond with skepticism and sarcasm! With regards to your comments about tweeps who watered down their achievements, I wonder how much of the negative sentiment surrounding this campaign can be attributed to wounded prides.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Linda! I agree it’s smart marketing. They have not broken any rules, as much as it seems quite close to the edge of spam, but it has achieved it’s goal…here we are talking about it. 🙂

    Well done LinkedIn, and congratulations Linda for being part of the 1% most viewed profiles.

    I am part of the top 5% and my husband is part of the first 1 million on LinkedIn. It seems they have other statistics.

    1. Thanks Maria. Indeed lots of discussion, and many other measures… lies, damned lies, and statistics?!

  3. It was smart up until the point that everyone started to realise they had received the same email, then what first manifested as an ego massage became a bit of an insult. You felt important but then less so once you realised you were part of a few million others who were also shouting about. Either way, it created a big impact, it got people talking – isn’t that what most marketing campaigns set out to achieve? I would be proud of it if it were my work.

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