Why LinkedIn Marketing Matters Less Than You Think

I have been running this website for a long time, and one of things I write about is using data to make better decisions. It should hence come as no surprise that I regularly look at the data regarding which social networks and websites generated inbound traffic for Commsrisk. What is striking about this information is that LinkedIn has historically been only a minor source of traffic, despite its popularity as a network for people in business. Over a long period I have observed that LinkedIn generates less than 10 percent of all visits to Commsrisk, and approximately double the traffic that comes from Twitter. In contrast, 80 percent of Commsrisk visitors come from one of two dominant sources:

  • direct traffic from people who have bookmarked Commsrisk or who type the URL into their browser; and
  • searches on Google.

The ratio between direct traffic and Google fluctuates, but consistently adds up to around 80 percent. This has remained the case for a long while, and continues to be so, even as the number of website visitors grows each year.

Anyone who uses LinkedIn on a regular basis cannot fail to notice the number of articles that are about using LinkedIn for marketing. I wondered if I was missing a trick by neglecting this social network. Over the course of the last 12 months I have been more active in engaging with LinkedIn, instead of just relying on the automated update of my LinkedIn feed every time Commsrisk publishes a new article. The result is that my personal LinkedIn account now has more than double the number of followers. However, the ratio of traffic from LinkedIn has slightly fallen! Commsrisk is on course for another record year, but the proportion of traffic generated by LinkedIn during the first six months of 2020 was less than 7.5 percent.

Traffic from LinkedIn is very peaky, with some articles generating many more visits from LinkedIn than others. But even the articles that generate most interest from LinkedIn receive less than 20 percent of their total traffic from that source. Furthermore, there is almost no correlation between the number of likes and comments on a LinkedIn post and the amount of traffic generated by LinkedIn.

One possible explanation for the low levels of traffic is that people who use LinkedIn might not be inclined to follow links to other sites. This would be little comfort to anyone who is primarily seeking to engage the interest of new customers for their products and services. If people will not click from LinkedIn to a different URL, it is even harder to imagine they will leap to calling you about your business.

This makes me believe that much of the LinkedIn audience is so casual in nature that they are merely shuffling through content on their LinkedIn home page, spending mere moments on each post before moving on to the next. What is certain is that the majority of Commsrisk’s audience simply does not care about LinkedIn. They are coming to Commsrisk because they want something that Commsrisk offers, not because they are using an intermediary social network to find topics that interest them. Marketeers should keep this observation in mind, even if they also pursue a strategy of appealing to LinkedIn users.

Many pundits now argue that networks like Twitter have an outsize reputation relative to the true extent of their influence, as has been demonstrated by numerous occasions when elections and other tests of public opinion delivered results that were contrary to the topics that ‘trend’ on Twitter. This phenomenon is best described as a social media bubble. To put it simply, what we read on Twitter is not representative of the whole world, because users mostly see information and opinions that come from people who already think like them. My limited analysis suggests the same thing is occurring with LinkedIn, at least for the professional community targeted by this website. LinkedIn is seductive for people who spend plenty of time on social media, but if you want to reach the largest audience you must look elsewhere, and that includes Commsrisk.

The irony is that the people who would most benefit from this analysis are unlikely to read it. They are too busy reading articles about how to increase their marketing appeal on LinkedIn!

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.