State of Social Q1 2016: LinkedIn chugs along steadily

LinkedIn, the former dark horse of social media, has not only grown past Twitter, but is a serious publishing platform in its own right. It’s the little engine that could, chugging away quietly – and that makes it worth paying attention to.


LinkedIn’s membership continues to grow strongly, at 433 million registered users. Note how consistent the growth is; LinkedIn has maintained 4%+ growth each quarter:

While quarter over quarter growth remains strong, we do see less than 25% of the member base actually logging in; however, this number is inching closer to the 25% mark again:

Above, the blue line is registered members. The green line is quarterly active users. The pink bars represent the percentage of quarterly active users versus total members; less than 25% of registered users log in quarterly.

We see mobile user growth resuming. It’s interesting to note the seesaw pattern of mobile user growth. Every other quarter, it’s strong for no obvious reason:


LinkedIn’s financial performance took a dip, as all social networks do, during the first quarter. The average revenue per user fell below $2:

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, the advertising unit, reverted to near the trend line, with a 15% Q/Q drop in revenue:

CEO Jeff Weiner cited Sponsored Updates as the primary driver of Marketing Solutions revenue, attributing 56% of the Marketing Solutions revenue to Sponsored Updates.

Looking Ahead: What It Means for Marketers and PR Pros

With the mobile app relaunch in Q4, LinkedIn attempted to position itself as a publishing outlet. Mr. Weiner, in his prepared remarks, said that social sharing increased more than 80%, while third party publisher traffic increased 150%. All early indicators suggest LinkedIn’s new publishing platform and mobile app are bringing people to content.

Mr. Weiner also noted,

Additionally, by virtue of leveraging our LinkedIn Lead Accelerator team and technology, conversion tracking and enhanced campaign analytics are coming online faster than we expected. By the end of 2016, we anticipate a Sponsored Content customer will be able to expand targeting using their own data such as customer account lists, use conversion tracking to better measure their return on investment, and leverage improved tools including APIs to better manage their campaigns, all of which will ultimately drive even higher ROI.

Notably absent from his remarks are any focus on newer technologies such as AI, chats, and especially video.

Large-scale self-serve retargeting and advertising is something marketers have been demanding since LinkedIn’s acquisition of Bizo.

What should marketers and communicators do now?

Publish and sponsor your content updates. Sponsored Updates continue to be the main focus on LinkedIn, and as with all other social networks, it’s very much a pay-to-play environment.

One interesting note in Mr. Weiner’s remarks is that the company is beginning to sell advertising inventory for Sponsored Updates to third party advertising platforms. If you don’t have a native advertising/DSP integration in your marketing technology stack, get in the game while you still can.

Use employee advocacy software such as Dynamic Signal to activate your employees on LinkedIn and encourage them to share. LinkedIn is a prime candidate for employee advocacy programs because very few people publish personal updates there; younger employees are most likely to want to keep personal and professional separate.

If working professionals are your audience, whether for talent or marketing, leverage the power of LinkedIn to your advantage.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Work at SHIFT

Posted on April 29, 2016 in Analytics, LinkedIn, Marketing, Social Media

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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