Parsing LinkedIn User Types To Guide Outreach Tactics

Today’s newsletter is longer than you are used to from me at 1300 words. It will take you 4-5 minutes to read, but these ideas will change the way you perform outreach on LinkedIn.

I have talked often about social selling and how a modified version of the Pareto Principle applies to LinkedIn. As a quick refresher, 60% of LinkedIn users show up less than once a month, and of the 40% that do, perhaps half of them show up once or twice a week. Where this is imporetant to outreach is that trying to contact people that don’t show up very often is not a winning strategy, while outreach to people who do use LinkedIn often is a good strategy.

Some of the comments and interactions I have received on this idea got me thinking: What if I could further refine that 60/40 split? And if I could, how could that information be used to our advantage on LinkedIn?

And that’s when I thought about the applicability of the 90-9-1 rule to this case. Often called the “90-9-1 rule of internet participation”, it hypothesizes that one percent of the users in an internet community publish the content, nine percent of the users engage with that content and ninety percent of the users just lurk in the background.

This rule appears to apply to LinkedIn. Ever wonder why LinkedIn groups don’t work? A large part of it is you need a large number of group members to get the ten percent that will provide and engage with the group content (and I am not talking about people who post and run in groups).

So here’s my hypotheses as this rule applies to LinkedIn.

  • 1% of LinkedIn users are very active and create and publish content.
  • 9% of LinkedIn users are active, showing up and engaging with that content at least once a week.

Then I split the remaining 90% into two subsets:

  • 30% are lurkers. These are people who show up at least once a month, but do not participate when they do.
  • And the remaining 60% of users don’t really use LinkedIn much at all.

Caveats: different types of job functions use LinkedIn in different ways. Solo business owners, sales, marketing, human resources, and recruiters all use LinkedIn heavily. The percentages will be higher for them – a larger percentage of salespeople use LinkedIn more often than Engineers for example. But that means if these people skew high, everyone else skews low!

So how do we tell which group a prospect on LinkedIn fits into, and knowing this,what is the best way to use LinkedIn with this prospect?

We will go backwards from the “seldom” users to the “heavy” users.

The 60% of LinkedIn users who show up rarely.

“Rarely” being less than once a month, according to LinkedIn’s definition.

How can we identify these users?

Low numbers of connections. Someone with a number of connections in the low hundreds is someone who does not see the use of LinkedIn as a tool.

What I call “skinny” profiles. On skinny profiles you will see things like:

  • Odd photos that are not professional. They just pulled any old photo and used it.
  • No background banner across the top
  • No “about” section
  • Experience sections that consist of titles only, no descriptions
  • Some skills with low numbers of endorsements

You get the idea. They look kind of like a skeleton of a profile. There’s no flesh on those bones.

What is the best way to use LinkedIn with these people?

Well, contacting them via LinkedIn is a losing proposition. They check in maybe once every four or six months, look around, maybe look at a few colleagues profiles, a competitors company page, wonder about all the fuss over LinkedIn is, then either passes on reading any messages or just deletes them all.

But what you can do is use LinkedIn for research. It won’t be great, but it is better than nothing, and may give you ideas for your outreach when you do try doing so via email, cold call or other means.

The 30% of LinkedIn users who lurk

These are people who show up at least once a month, and maybe even once or twice a week, but they do not publish and they do not engage.

So how do we identify these users?

In general they have “more” – more connections and more fleshed out profiles than the skinny sixty percenters. Their experience section will be filled out, and likely their “about” section too. There will be lots of skills, and they will be in a relevant order. One giveaway for these people that I see quite often is the “almost” profile, that is a complete profile with everything there but their current experience section has no description of their responsibilities there. Their previous experience sections are full of responsibilities, projects worked on, and accomplishments, but the current one is just a title and the start date.

What is the best way to use LinkedIn with these people?

Your research will work a lot better with these people as there is more info to work with, but they are on the fence as far as outreach messages are concerned. You may be messaging someone who uses LinkedIn once a week, or once every four weeks. To my mind, this makes messaging these people something I would do as a last resort. I am going to try email, networking through more active users at their company, or even trying them on Twitter (don’t laugh, it works) before I try using LinkedIn.

The 9% of LinkedIn users that engage with others on LinkedIn

We have made the leap to the good folks. These are easy to identify as you can see their activity on their LinkedIn profile.

How can we use LinkedIn with these people?

Here’s where the use of LinkedIn takes off. Not only can we research them via their profiles, but we can research them via their activity. And because activity is time and date stamped, you can get a good idea of how often they use LinkedIn and sometimes even what time of day they do so. You can also get clues by seeing what type of activity they engage in. Are they just engaging with their employer’s activity? Are they just rubber-stamp “liking” other people’s posts? Are they commenting? Are they getting into conversation threads on other people’s posts? Do they share other people’s or company’s content? If so, do they provide context with the shared content of just hit the share button and leave it at that?

All these can provide clues and give you ideas about what you can say in an outreach message.

And lastly of course, you can send them outreach messages and feel good about the probability that they will be seen and read.

The 1% of LinkedIn users that publish content.

These are the writers. These are the people that actively use LinkedIn as part of their sales, marketing or both. These are the powewr users, the people that “get” LinkedIn.

Identifying these people is easy enough, just go to their profiles and click on “recent activity”.

These people are the gold prospects – they have fleshed out profiles, activity you can review, they will see your outreach message, and because of the way they use LinkedIn, they are quite likely to answer.

I have shortcuts for identifying some of these types of users, but I’ll leave that for another newsletter. And of course, identifying these people is only the first half or outreach. Putting together a message that will get the answer you want is a newsletter for another day.

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. If you are an individual or company that wants to increase their effectiveness at using LinkedIn for sales or marketing, send me a message, it’s free as I am Open Profile.

The offer: Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles. This week’s LinkedIn newsletter was originally published as part of my email newsletter a couple months ago. Here’s a link to the sign up page: