After reaching a 200 million member milestone this week, social media network LinkedIn sent emails to its members thanking them for the role they played in growing the platform. Some members were also sent emails congratulating them for having the top 1% and 5% most viewed profiles.
On the face of it, this seems like a clever strategy, appealing to the vanity of LinkedIn users. However, LinkedIn was criticised for encouraging users to tweet this information. By clicking on a tab in the email, users were able to send out a tweet saying: “Hurray! I have one of the top 5% most viewed @LinkedIn profiles for 2012,” with a link to their profile.
Social media 101: don’t brag
The problem is, bragging on social media is just not popular. No one really cares if you have one of the most viewed profiles. The purpose of social media is to engage, not boast. People following you on Twitter, or any other social media platform, are probably doing so because they believe you can add value to their network. This in itself is a vote of approval. But by sending out a self-congratulating tweet, you are not adding value – you are simply publicly patting yourself on the back.
Some commentators have suggested that LinkedIn’s email was aimed at increasing revenue. This is because in the email it also offered people the chance to “unlocking the full list of people” that viewed their profile, for the fee of $7.95 a year. As a number of columnists pointed out, 5% of 200 million is 10 million people. This makes LinkedIn’s appeal to user vanity worth a potential $15m, though most of these users will probably ignore the bait.
Perhaps LinkedIn would have been wiser to send an email that did not encourage a boastful tweet. However, without any context, the information adds little value to the users. Being in the top 5% means they are one of 10 million profiles. This also gives no indication of who is viewing their profiles and the likelihood of these profile views in actually resulting in a job offer or business opportunity.