Why Everyone Got LinkedIn Top 5 Percent Email

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There is a bit of cloud brewing on Twitter and elsewhere over an email sent by LinkedIn. In the email, the company congratulates the user for having one of the “top 5% most viewed profiles.” The catch is that it is starting to seem like “everyone” got one of these emails.

LinkedIn Top 5 Percent Email Scam

top-five-percent-linkedin-graphicA number of users on Twitter have begun to question whether the top five percent email is a scam. The idea circulating is that by sending out an email about being one of the top profiles on LinkedIn will encourage users to engage with the site more actively, and promote their profiles. In short, the top 5% of all profiles email is just a cynical attempt to gain momentum by providing “everyone” a chance to brag about being a big shot on LinkedIn.

But, is this all a LinkedIn email promotional scam, or is there another explanation?

How Everybody Is in LinkedIn Top 5%

The top viewed profile isn’t so much a marketing trick by LinkedIn as much as ignoring the math. The quick thought that jumps to someone’s brain when they see top five percent is that it is a small, elite club. After all, that means that 95 percent of users did not make the cut. All of that is true, but when you look at the raw numbers, and take a second to think about what other services or websites a top user of LinkedIn might use, and it becomes obvious why so many people seemed to make it into this rarefied club.

In January, LinkedIn announced that it had 200 million users. How, exactly, the company counts those users is not relevant  assuming that it is counting users the same way for its infamous top five percent emails. In that case, five percent of 200 million is 10 million users. That’s right, in order to qualify as a top five percenter on LinkedIn, you need only be in the top 10 million.

In one way, this still seems like an elite club. After all, 190 million users do not qualify. However, there are very big variations in how each LinkedIn user takes part in the network. There are millions of users who setup a profile and then never came back. There are millions of others who haven’t even uploaded a picture. There are millions more still who created a profile, but never promoted it and don’t bother telling anyone about it.

There are two ways one could be one of the top five percent of viewed profiles on LinkedIn. First, is the group of people who are “real-world famous.” In other words, people who have real, live connections and those who are interested in them based upon who they are in the offline-world. Keep in mind that only those with a LinkedIn profile count, however. So, while there are a lot of famous movie stars and politicians out there, many of them don’t have a LinkedIn profile, certainly not enough of them to suck up the 5 million available slots.

The second group of people would be those who might be considered “internet-famous.” These people would tend to be those with popular websites, or web personalities. As a group, people in this group are not just active on LinkedIn. They tend to be active on other social networking sites as well such as Facebook, Google+ and, yes, even Twitter. In fact, one might could easily conclude that out of the 5 million people who qualify as top five percent, well over 4.5 million of them are also active on Twitter. Furthermore, those 4.5 million would be people with a lot of followers, and many of them would follow each other.

In other words, there are somewhere between 4.5 million and 5 million people on Twitter right now who got these emails saying that their profile was one of the top 5 percent of all profiles viewed on LinkedIn. While that might seem like “everyone” got one of these emails, the truth is that a small percentage really got them. For example, as someone who never really finished filling out his LinkedIn profile, I didn’t get the email, although many people in my Twitter timeline did.

It just so happens that the same small percentage that got LinkedIn’s email is the most vocal and followed on social media.

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