We are thrilled to have Wayne Breitbarth join us for an interview about his recent 2016 LinkedIn User Survey, where he shares insights from more than 900 LinkedIn users. (You can see that infographic below.) Wayne was a skeptic before he became an outspoken proponent of LinkedIn and is passionate about helping business professionals use LinkedIn more effectively to build their businesses and personal brands.
I asked Wayne some questions about what he learned from his survey and how we can apply those insights to LinkedIn sales and marketing programs.
Q: What prompted you to conduct the 2016 LinkedIn User Survey and what were you hoping to learn from the results?
A: I have been conducting this survey for 8 years running with great feedback from my audience, so I wasn’t about to stop doing it now. Since LinkedIn is a fairly complex—and somewhat hard to figure out—platform, I always hope the results will help the average user answer the question, “What are other people doing on LinkedIn, and how are they having success?”
Q: How many of these 900 people were in sales vs. marketing? Do you think this could have affected the results of the survey in any way?
A: I don’t have any way of knowing the breakdown of the audience based on function since I don’t ask any demographic or job characteristic questions.
Q: Did you collect any information on what these users’ objectives are for LinkedIn? Do you think they have identified clear objectives? If so, what were they measuring?
A: I didn’t ask a question about the user’s main strategy for using LinkedIn, i.e sales, corp. Marketing, job seeking etc. The closest question to that was this question, “Which of the following has LinkedIn helped you with?”
Q: We’ve noticed that there’s significantly more spam coming from certain sectors on LinkedIn. Have you also noticed a similar trend? If so, why do you think LinkedIn is becoming a target for spammers?
A: Big audiences, especially targeted big audiences, always attract spammers. People are trying to cut corners on building real relationships and hope that LinkedIn is simply FREE advertising. I think there is an increase [in spam] as the site matures because of LinkedIn’s messaging capabilities More people are starting to understand various methods, features and strategies for reaching people on LinkedIn.
Q: Have you found many LinkedIn users simply “jump onto LinkedIn” because they think they should? What could be the danger in taking this approach?
A: Yes, many jump onto LinkedIn because someone else told them they should. This is not a good reason to get on LinkedIn. I teach that people should understand the site first. Then, if it makes sense for them, we set a strategy and objectives for using LinkedIn, just like any other business tool. If you follow those steps, you will have success. Otherwise, you won’t bother with LinkedIn and do other things for branding, marketing, communicating and researching instead.
Q: Where do you think these LinkedIn users get their information about best practices for LinkedIn?
A: From their peers, coworkers and friends who are evangelists of the site. Those evangelists follow and get their info from people, like me, who work with LinkedIn full-time.
Q: What are people finding valuable about the “who’s viewed your profile” feature for users?
A: Beyond the curiosity factor…those who viewed your profile took the first step to check you out. This is an opportunity for people to reach out to those who’ve viewed their profiles, that meet one of their target audiences and say “Hey!”
Q: Do we know which industries are affected most by the LinkedIn groups decline? We’ve found some industry groups (that are not technology, sales or marketing related) are still thriving, but we’re wondering if this is consistent across the board.
A: I haven’t really done any industry specific research on this question, nor do I have a strong personal opinion.
Q: Why is getting to 500+ connections important for LinkedIn users?
A: Read this article about whether you need 500+ connections on LinkedIn to be successful.
Q: Have you found that the number of LinkedIn connections a person has and how complete their profile is to be a good indicator of someone who is responsive to messaging? Is there a number of connections that is “too few to matter” and makes the person a less valuable LinkedIn connection?
A: Yes, I do think there is a direct correlation to people that. But, the value of an individual person as a connection is not tied directly to the number of connections they have. For example, let’s say you have a great client of yours that has only 85 connections, but most of those connections are people just like your client. These people might be ideal prospects for you and be open to purchasing your product and services. And, your client can help you get referred to them. KaChing!!!!
Q: What’s your opinion on free vs. premium vs. Sales Navigator accounts when it comes to the ability to conduct LinkedIn research? Since 79% of those who filled out the survey are still using a free version of LinkedIn, they could be missing some filtering capabilities search features.
A: My feeling is that you should not upgrade to a premium account, including Sales Navigator, until someone runs into the FREE wall. This is the wall that LinkedIn puts up to keep you from doing more of the very best features on LinkedIn, like advanced searches, saved searches, viewing who’s viewed your profile, direct messaging etc. Here is my latest article on whether it is worth it to start paying for LinkedIn.
Q: Are there any other insights you’d like to share with us about the survey?
A: Be sure to read my follow-up insights that I have been sharing over the last few weeks and will probably do for another couple of weeks and from time to time. See www.powerformula.net.
Wayne Breitbarth is a nationally recognized LinkedIn consultant, speaker, and trainer. He has helped more than 80,000 businesspeople—from entry level to CEO—understand how to effectively use LinkedIn. Wayne helps companies develop a comprehensive strategy for using LinkedIn to grow their business and build their brand, then trains their teams on how to use LinkedIn to meet their objectives.