Social Selling Meets Up With The Pareto Principle…And Gets Creamed

The first time I wrote about this idea was in June 2016. I think this concept is so important that when I started an email newsletter in late 2019 that this was the first thing I wrote about.

For all you people who aren’t getting the results from social selling on LinkedIn that you think you should be getting, here’s one likely reason: you’re assuming LinkedIn is a much bigger social network than it really is.

The reality is LinkedIn is a big database with a small social network embedded in it.

As of Summer 2020, LinkedIn had somewhere north of 715 million members. Around 40% or three hundred million of them, log in at least once a month. Think about that for a second. If you are a social seller, you are left contending with the fact that 60% of LinkedIn members more or less just consider LinkedIn to be a resume holder.

So you can follow these 60%, but because they don’t show up very often there isn’t anything to follow.

They don’t post anything, so you will have a tough time engaging them through likes and comments.

And you can share posts that they will never see.

You can congratulate them on their work anniversary and they may see it when they next log in next Spring, where the first thing they will do is delete all the messages that have piled up since the last time they logged in.

There is a very active social network on LinkedIn, but it’s pretty small. If 300 million people log in at least once a month, how many of them log in, say twice a week or more? Let’s be charitable and call it 100 million. For all of you that squawk that this is a low estimate, I have just one question: If LinkedIn had true numbers of daily users to crow about, wouldn’t you think that they would publish that number, and feature it in press releases every week? So, as I was saying, if only 100 million people use LinkedIn a couple times a week or more often, social selling can be effectively used to address all of 15 percent of LinkedIn users. And while 100 million is a lot of people, in context of a social network like Facebook, it’s a rounding error. In Q2 2020 Facebook reported that they had 1.79 billion daily users. 

So what does this all mean? For the sales “hunters” out there – the people that use LinkedIn to find a prospect but then choose between using LinkedIn to contact that person, or use other means like email or cold calling – LinkedIn is a database of 715 million potential prospects. For the social selling “farmers” that rely on LinkedIn members seeing them or seeing their prospect’s content or activity, it is a social network of maybe 100 million potential prospects.

Social selling can work beautifully, but the majority of LinkedIn users are not social. Set your expectations accordingly.

I publish weekly newsletters on using LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each of these 3 is typically a two or three minute read and contains useful ideas you can put into practice right away.