State of Social Q3 2016: LinkedIn Flattens Out

State of Social

While LinkedIn has technically been purchased by Microsoft, the transaction has not closed yet. Thus, for at least this quarter, we have updated numbers about the company’s social network. We do not expect discrete data to be released by Microsoft in its earnings reports, but they may pleasantly surprise us. Let’s see how LinkedIn fared in Q3 of 2016.


LinkedIn’s membership grows at a continued steady pace, averaging 3.78% this quarter. The member base is currently at 467 million members:

While quarter-over-quarter membership growth continues to grow, quarterly active users has remained effectively flat for three quarters in a row. Less than 1 in 4 members is active on a quarterly basis:

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 23% of registered users log in quarterly.

What does this mean? While LinkedIn may be attracting new users, its core base of users remains unchanged. This presents a potential problem for engagement and growth on the platform; if your prospective customers aren’t already using LinkedIn, you may not see additional growth.

We see mobile user growth taking another break – and breaking a pattern. Prior to this past quarter, LinkedIn experienced a zig-zag pattern in mobile users. This past quarter, it remained low:


LinkedIn’s financial performance weakened slightly but still remains above $2 per user, the ‘magic number’ of social networks:

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, the advertising unit, also underperformed compared to the previous quarter, reverting to the trendline for revenue generated:

LinkedIn cited Sponsored Updates as the primary driver of Marketing Solutions revenue, attributing 67% of the Marketing Solutions revenue to Sponsored Updates. Non-Sponsored Direct Ads continue to lose ground.

What should marketers and communicators do now?

Our guidance remains unchanged on Sponsored Updates: continue to use them to boost visibility of your published content on LinkedIn, especially its Pulse network. We do remain concerned that user engagement is not increasing with membership; continue to nudge your LinkedIn audience to your owned media properties for capture there.

We remain bullish on the use of 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; employees who keep personal and professional social presences separate often have no qualms about publishing work-related content to their LinkedIn profile. Encourage your employees to use LinkedIn more; if you have employee advocacy software, make LinkedIn one of your top recommended networks.

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

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Posted on November 1, 2016 in LinkedIn, Marketing, Metrics, 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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