Fool Me Once, LinkedIn … Shame on You

13 Feb

LinkedIn emailLike so many other people, I recently received an email from LinkedIn telling me that my profile was one of the most-viewed ones of 2012.

Specifically, that I was in the top 5% of all profiles.

That’s awesome, especially given that there are now more than 200 million people on the social network.

Woo hoo! I’m so proud.

And I’m definitely cooler than all those people who’ve been bragging that they’re in the top 10%. Ha ha!

The email from LinkedIn gave me a nice ego boost. And clearly, I’m not alone: A ton of people have been bragging on Facebook and Twitter that they were also in the top 5% … or the top 1% or the top 2%.

But wait a second. Hold up. What does being in the top 5% even mean? If I do the math, then by being in the top 5% of a site with more than 200,000,000 members, that means my profile is one of the top 10,000,000 profiles on LinkedIn.

That’s right: I’m one of 10,000,000.

Even if you’re in the top 1%, that’s still one of 2,000,000.

Kinda makes the “honor” less impressive, eh? Insert sad trombone here.

I wonder how many other people who’ve received a similar email have done the math. I suspect not many.

That’s why, given how much the email has been shared, LinkedIn has to be considering the campaign a success. After all, if the goal was simply to raise awareness and remind people of its existence, or boost traffic to the site, then it worked. Anyone who uses the site even a little has to have a profile at least in the top 10%. That’s a lot of social sharing and free marketing for LinkedIn. I work in this field, so I get that.

But word is getting out slowly but surely that there’s something false about this whole thing.

So was the campaign really a success? There wasn’t any call to action in the email other than one to read a quick message from Deep Nishar, senior vice president of products and user experience. And I know I’m not alone when I say the email didn’t really get me to use LinkedIn any more than I already do.

Even worse, the email made me and others think less of LinkedIn as a brand and a social network we want to be a part of.

So I consider the LinkedIn campaign to be a fail.

Basically, with this email, LinkedIn is preying on its users’ emotions, and playing a dangerous game with its brand in the process. Think of all the people who’ve been let down when they learned how insignificant an accomplishment they were boasting about.

And think of all the people who were smart enough to realize the campaign was a bit of a sham, and have been mocking LinkedIn and the people who are sharing the email on social media.

(Full disclosure: I tweeted about the email, but noted that I was skeptical about its legitimacy.)

A business should never sacrifice long-term loyalty or risk doing damage to its brand image for a short-term hit or a quick sale. Nor should it toy with people’s egos — especially where their professional livelihoods are concerned.

LinkedIn’s campaign reduces the brand to something like Catfish, the Kardashians, or any other media player where we have to be skeptical about what we see or hear and can’t take what they say at face value.

These days, whether it’s being told you’re one of LinkedIn’s top profiles or one of the most influential people on social media, or one of the top 250 email marketing experts on Twitter, it’s sad that you have to consider the source and/or take the kudos with a grain of salt.

My profile may actually be in LinkedIn’s top 5%, and that’s nice to know, but that fact means a heck of a lot more to LinkedIn than it does to me.

Did you get an email from LinkedIn about being a top profile? Please share your thoughts about the email campaign in the comments section below.

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6 Responses to “Fool Me Once, LinkedIn … Shame on You”

  1. Corey Koehler (@planetcorey) February 15, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Funny you mention this. I received the same thing and I was kind of skeptical. I would think there are people out there who get quite a bit more than I do. I figured maybe they were trying to lure my into something premium.

    In the end, I kind of laughed and then poked fun at it on Twitter via a mock award acceptance speech.

    • Martin Lieberman February 15, 2013 at 11:20 am #

      Congrats, Corey, and thanks for the comment! You’re one in 10,000,000! ;-)

  2. Jessica Best (@bestofjess) February 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    I actually think it was clever. Sure, they basically give you the numbers to do the math, but being one of the top 1% no matter the audience size still makes a couple million people feel kinda cool. Think of this way: you beat out 190MM other people. If you take out the sleepy accounts, that’s still an impressive number :)

    Brands could do this a little less transparently: “You’re one of our top 10% customers, so we’re giving you XYZ!” Or something with a bit more spin on it. Who cares how many clients you have. These are the best/top at something!

    • Martin Lieberman February 18, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

      I hear ya, Jess. It does sound cool on the surface to think that I’m part of the top 5%. Perhaps I’m just being too cynical? Then again, I wish I could just take such a compliment at face value without having to question it. I guess I know too much about how such campaigns work. ;-) Either way, thanks for the comment!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why Nobody Is Talking About Your Email Content... and How to Change That - Email Marketing Tips - Blog GetResponse - March 7, 2013

    [...] network alerted people that they were in the top 1%, 2%, 5%, or 10% of all profiles on the site? Legitimacy of those claims aside, the campaign was really a promotion for the fact that LinkedIn now has more than 200 million [...]

  2. Why Nobody Is Talking About Your Email Content… and How to Change That | E-mail Marketing Specialisten - March 9, 2013

    [...] network alerted people that they were in the top 1%, 2%, 5%, or 10% of all profiles on the site? Legitimacy of those claims aside, the campaign was really a promotion for the fact that LinkedIn now has more than 200 million [...]

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