Taking Apart Your LinkedIn Profile Dashboard

If you look on your LinkedIn Profile, underneath your photo and headline, and your About and your Featured sections (if you use either of these), you will come across “Your Dashboard ” which is private to you. “Dashboard” seems like a pretty exotic term to use for three statistics but there you go. Here is what mine looked like today:

In theory, I am guessing that LinkedIn uses these three statistics as some sort of gauge for how visible your profile is, though searching LinkedIn help results in no articles on this topic. But the unspoken thing here is that by presenting these statistics, LinkedIn is implying that you should want then to get bigger, or at least that they are important. So I thought I would take each one in turn and discuss why two of these are crap and should be ignored, and one should be taken seriously.

Part 1: Search Appearances

What this statistic supposedly does is to provide you with some clues as to how well your LinkedIn profile is performing for you. It is updated weekly.

The Search Appearance related statistics that LinkedIn shows are as follows:

The number of times you showed in search results during any given week

While it is a nice ego boost to think I am showing up in a lot of searches, without any context I am not sure that knowing this number helps me much. That’s because LinkedIn quite helpfully does not tell us how a “search” is defined. Here’s a good example: if someone I know types my name in the search bar and hits enter, they find me. Does this constitute a search? And if so, should I be excited that I turned up in their search results?

The statistics screen then lists the top places your searchers work

I am not sure what to make of this. Last week on my report there were three companies listed. This week there are two. Those two from this week were both there last week too. Apparently, over a two week period I landed in more searches performed by people at Oberlin College than anywhere else. How can that be? Does Oberlin College have a “Find Bruce Johnston on LinkedIn” course that I don’t know about?

Even if I put the nice people at Oberlin College aside, that leaves Intel as the next company. Now how can I use that information? Maybe I can send messages to my three connections at Intel asking if it was them. Or maybe I can send InMails to the 5,600 second degree connections I have at Intel.

So once again this information is interesting but not useful.

What your searchers do

Now this is data that helps. In my case, I show up in more corporate trainer’s searches than anyone else’s. And these are the type of people I want to meet so I know my profile is doing its job. If I was job hunting, I would hope to see Recruiters and Human Resources people as my top searchers.

What these statistics don’t do for you

They don’t tell you where you ranked in the results and that is a big deal. If you don’t rank highly in a set of search results then who cares? I regularly perform LinkedIn searches that get thousands of results. I don’t look at them all. When was the last time you performed a Google search and reviewed all the results? When was the last time you performed a Google search and got even halfway down page one of the search results?

In a lot of ways, these statistics make me think of views you would get for a post on your LinkedIn Homepage screen. A thousand views means it was on a thousand screens. But you don’t know how many people actually saw your post and then read it. In the same way, appearing in a thousand search results is nice. But it doesn’t tell you if the people searching even saw you in the search results, let alone clicked on and opened your profile.

I just stopped writing for a moment, hopped on LinkedIn and did a search for people in North America. So congratulations, if you are a LinkedIn member and live in North America, you just showed up in my search results….with 208 million other people.

As it stands, “Weekly Search Appearances” gives us some interesting clues, but not enough context and detail to really be a useful tool.

Part Two: Post Views

Let me show you four glaring problems with view statistics.

1) Views are counted differently for different types of LinkedIn content

A post is considered viewed if it showed up on your LinkedIn screen. You don’t even have to be aware that it was there, you are considered as having viewed it, because you could have viewed it if you looked in the right place.

An article view requires you to click on it to open the article.

Note that even with just these two types of content it is obvious that a view for one is very different from a view for the other. With a post you have the opportunity to see it, while for an article you had to click so you had the intent to see it.

And then if three seconds of a video roll while it is on your screen you are considered as having viewed the video.

So a thousand post views are different from a thousand video views and both are different from a thousand article views. So that’s problem number one.

2) You can’t see who your viewers are

Actually I can see people who have engaged (liked, commented, shared) with my content and you can bet I go review every single one of those lists. But in the case of posts for example, what about the 97% who don’t engage? I would love to know who they are as it would give me clues and ideas as to how I could improve my content.

3) there are no meaningful demographics

I would love to know the split between first, second or third degree connections that view my content. I would also love to see what percentage are in sales vs marketing vs other functions. And company size. And geography. Info that would help me. A raw top line number does not.

4) I have reason to believe LinkedIn can’t count. 

If the same person comes back to your post seven times to comment or look at the comment thread, guess how many times they get counted as new views? Correct. Seven.

Then there are the overall counts. Here is an example from today. I published my latest LinkedIn newsletter. Under my avatar I am told how many times my post (actually my newsletter) has been viewed:

So my newsletter has been viewed 2,442 times so far since I published it. So I go to the newsletter statistics and I see this:

3,325 is quite a bit different from 2,442.

If I can’t trust the figures, how do I make business decisions?

This can all be very depressing, but next we will talk about profile views, and I have some good info for you on how to leverage this one good part of your Dashboard.

Part Three: Profile Views

Profile viewers are worthwhile and you should pay attention to them. If you have a premium account, you can see your profile viewers going back ninety days, otherwise you can see your last five profile visitors.

Regardless of whether you can see five or five hundred, you should check this on a regular basis, starting with whenever you log in to LinkedIn. It should be a regular habit, in the same way you would check your notifications or your messages.

In order for someone to be prompted to visit your profile, you did something – you commented, you wrote, you were mentioned, or they heard about you somewhere off LinkedIn, or they may have even found you in a search. But the bottom line is, they have questions that can only be answered by finding out more about you.

In my opinion a profile view is a valid business reason to reach out to someone.

When you see someone interesting has viewed your profile, you should immediately reach out to them on LinkedIn if you can. When you do reach out, do your research first.

When I send an outreach like this I often ask or guess why they came by (was it something I wrote? If so, which post or newsletter? Was it a comment on someone else’s post?). My goal is to start a conversation, but barring that, any information that someone provides helps give me just a bit more guidance as to what causes people to have a passing interest in me.

When I do this, I am successful getting a response around 65% of the time. Note that there are three parts here: the profile view was the trigger, but I had to do good research, which in turn armed me to write a good outreach message.

If this person is a possible prospect, this is the start to a process that goes: outreach, conversation, discovery, build credibility and then (maybe) sell. But it all starts with that first conversation.

For all intents and purposes, people who view your profile are possible business partners such as customers, suppliers, employees or employers. Treat them that way. And that’s what makes profile views the one valid statistic of the three you’re presented with on your Profile Dashboard.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.

Want more like this? I publish three weekly email newsletters on LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. This week’s newsletter is actually a combination of three of my LinkedIn for Sales newsletters from a few weeks ago. Typically my email newsletters are much shorter, a two or three minute read, free, and and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/