Jeff Zelaya

20 Million LinkedIn Users Fell for the Top 10% Marketing Scheme

Congrats on being the {insert percentage here} of LinkedIn!

Jeff Zelaya - Top 1 Percent of LinkedIn Most Viewed Profiles

Top 1% of LinkedIn?

You think I would be happy to receive this email from LinkedIn?

Kind of hard to feel accomplished when it seems like everybody else got the same email. Facebook should follow suit with a “Congrats on being alive today” campaign. I’m sure everyone will quickly flood my timeline with how excited they are that Facebook recognized their amazing achievement.

Sorry to sound so cynical, but I believe we just fell for a huge LinkedIn marketing scheme. LinkedIn sent a similar message to about 20 million people! That’s about the population of Dominican Republic, Switzerland and Jamaica…combined.

Still feeling special?

LinkedIn’s stock is soaring since it’s revenue have exceeded analyst forecasts for the 7th straight quarter since their IPO. In order to continue with this growth they are looking for fresh new marketing ideas and this “Top 10%” marketing scheme was one of them.

If you fell for this scheme you weren’t alone…the fact is that this marketing tactic is working. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Bloggers. Heck, even Herb Greenberg from CNBC was bragging about being in the LinkedIn elite 1 percent on air (the guy must own LinkedIn stock).

Just see the  live TWITTER stream below with folks boasting about their LINKEDIN accomplishment.

People are now adding this to their LinkedIn resume along with the accomplishment of being Time’s Person of the Year in 2006. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has another special message for you….he wanted me to tell you

“Congratulations on being the 1% of LinkedIn…you are special, just like everybody else.”

Thanks for the reminder Jeff! Don’t get me wrong, I still love LinkedIn and am a LinkedIn believer, but this marketing campaign left a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe next time LinkedIn should just send the email to the top .0001%.

LinkedIn Meme Top 1 Percent Marketing

Looks like I’m not the only one that feels this way. Check out these other stories too:

LinkedIn Top 10% – Really?

LA TIMES: LinkedIn’s clever marketing: You’re special like 10 million others

Buzzfeed: 20 Million People LinkedIn Just Tricked Into Tweeting About LinkedIn

What do you say? Smart or Sneaky?

Leave your comments below…and the top 10% of the comments will get a very special prize :-) 

Jeff Zelaya

Jeff Zelaya

Head of Sales at Triblio
Thanks for checking out my blog post. I live by the motto: "If you help enough people around you reach their goals, then you too will reach yours". Therefore, I combine my love of helping others & of business to teach individuals & organizations how they can leverage content marketing, LinkedIn & social selling to reach their goals. I live to inspire, engage, educate & entertain. I'm an Entrepreneur , Public Speaker & a Marketing Consultant . Click here to learn more about me or here if you would like to contact me directly.
Jeff Zelaya


Dad, Marketer, Entrepreneur, Sales @Triblio, Host @b2bpodcast // I love #B2Bmarketing #socialselling #demandgen
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Jeff Zelaya
Jeff Zelaya
Jeff Zelaya

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39 thoughts on “20 Million LinkedIn Users Fell for the Top 10% Marketing Scheme

  1. miamism

    oh man! does this mean I shouldn’t add it tom my resume?? LOL! Although I should add it to my overinflated ego at LinkedIn 😉 Thanks to Liza Walton for the heads up on your article

  2. Tom Furlong (@TerrellMillTom)

    I felt pretty important when I got my 5% notice- until I found out half of my firm got the same message! Still, doesn’t being in a select group of 5 million must mean something?

    1. Jeff Zelaya Post author

      Yes…it does mean something Tom….it means that you are One of 5 Million. Congratulations! The odds of getting struck by lighting in a given year (reported deaths + injuries) 1/1,000,000

  3. DT Dong

    This is the same thing as every kid in the Little League/Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts/Grade School receiving an awad for PARTICIPATION for christ sake. This kind of campaign is not helpful.

  4. Justin

    Unless I missed it, I’m not sure this entry has a complete thought. Of course it was a marketing campaign. Does anyone think differently? Should LinkedIn not do marketing in an effort to reach 300MM members? Was this successful? The answers are Yes and Of Course. What does me being in the top 1% of profile views mean? Nothing directly, I suppose. But what if I told you one of those views helped me get a new job that equaled $$XX more in annual compensation. Now it starts to mean something very real. Would it surprise anyone if we found a strong correlation charting profile views to annual salary of LinkedIn members? And by the way, there’s a little more than 300 million people in the U.S. today. I wouldn’t mind being in the top 1% in regards to net worth. That seems to make a lot of news lately. Sure that means that potentially 3 million people still make more money than me but wouldn’t change the fact that I’m doing quite well myself.

  5. Ted

    Yes I’m taking this ‘marketing scam’ quite personally! How is this latest LINKEDIN email blast considered ‘clever’ marketing?

    I feel absolutely duped, I’ve been try to grow exposure for my entrepreneurial venture by diligently posting online at LINKEDIN to gain new fans and exposure among colleagues and the business community – only to find out it had nothing to do with my grassroots efforts over the past 1 1/2 Yrs.

    Shame on LINKEDIN, as clever as this may seem, I say leave the games and marketing gimmicks to FACEBOOK and other social media sites – this is not a ethical practice for a professional career building and networking site.

    This has nothing to confirming we all have overinflated egos wanting recognition, in my case, it was a welcome site to see that my entrepreneurial grassroots efforts were recognized.

    Now, I just feel like they took advantage just to gain some new market share and publicity.

  6. Pingback: Antonio, congratulations! You have one of the top 1% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012! « The Puchi Herald

  7. Justin

    @Ted — It must have been late because you’re making zero sense. So you’re saying that you were happy when you received the email because you felt your grassroots efforts were working but now you’re not happy because someone else has pointed out the mathematics to you and a lightbulb went off in your head that being in the top 10% means that there’s still 20MM profiles that were viewed more often so now you feel your grassroots efforts were not so good after all. Did I capture that correctly?? Sounds like you have no one to blame but yourself for your lot in life. Certainly LinkedIn is not the cause of your woes.

    1. Daniel

      Ted, you and Jeff Zelaya are thinking WAY too hard about this. I cannot tell whether you both suck at math (and do not understand that 20 million actually is 10% of linked in’s users) or if you just cannot wrap your mind around the fact that this is not a “scheme” simply because their intent was to increase usership and revenues.

      They did this to send recognition to their “core users”, so they knew where they stood in comparison to the rest of linked in’s users, which was a benefit to those who got the email. As a result, those people created a buzz which hopefully brought on more Linked In usership, which is good for linked in users AND linked in. The more market share and publicity Linked In gets from this, the better off its users are, because that is how social networking works (bigger network = more potential page views). It actually blows my mind that you, and ESPECIALLY someone like Jeff Zelaya, who claims to be a “marketing consultant”, could be so inept on how marketing works, that you two could somehow twist this into a personal slight against yourselves.

      The good news for you two is, Linked In did not do this as a personal attack against you. The bad news is, the world does not revolve around you and Linked In, like everyone else on the planet, doesn’t care at all about you or how you feel.

  8. Kevin Nakao (@knakao)

    We think this type of professional recognition is awesome and want to honor LinkedIn’s Top Users. MeritShare will honor the top 1%, 5%, and 10% most-viewed profiles with a MeritShare online badge and public award page. The benefit to the recipient is that a MeritShare award page is more permanent than a post in a social media stream. The MeritShare award page is also optimized for search; many MeritShare profiles with a photo and a badge show up in the first page of Google results for someone’s name.” A personal and professional branding win!

    To receive a MeritShare award, just forward the email you received from LinkedIn to and we’ll send you a special “Connector” award through MeritShare.

  9. John Galt

    I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is negative in any way. It’s not like “every participant gets a trophy” at all. 90% of LinkedIn users are not in the Top 10%. The fact that there are 20 million in the top 10% is just how it is. 180 million people are not. No different than a 100-meter race with 10 people running. Only the top 10% — 1 person — gets the gold medal.
    I’m in the Top 5%. That means that my LinkedIn profile was viewed more times than 190 million other profiles. So, whatever I’ve done to get my LinkedIn profile viewed works better than 190 million other people’s approaches. Now, there may not be a heck of a lot of value in being viewed 500 times in a year either, i.e. that and a buck will get me a cup of coffee. But in the end, the LinkedIn account and exposure cost me less than a cup of coffee.

  10. Russ Somers (@rsomers)

    I’m surprised at the people who feel somehow duped. Do you think the calculation was inaccurate? No? Were you unable to do the math to understand that being in the top 1% out of 200 million members makes you one out of 2 million – not exactly a rare and special creature? I think people are upset that they tweeted it out of self-important vanity, and then realized that they looked foolish.

    Me, I thought it was funny, tweeted/statused anyhow, and created an elitist group on LinkedIn to mock it.

  11. AlysonLex

    As someone who did NOT receive one of the top % e-mails, I can’t understand why you’re calling it sneaky at all. Sneaky would be sending that e-mail only to paid advertisers; sneaky would be lying; sneaky would be doing anything but saying what they said – you’re in the top percentage of our total user base. The math isn’t done for you – is that what you’re saying is sneaky?

    I don’t know about everyone else who didn’t get an e-mail, but I for one will be researching how to boost my own social media practices so that when the 300 Million Member e-mail is rolled out… I can be sure to get one.

  12. Dennis Consorte

    I totally don’t get why people would be mad about getting this email. LinkedIn is free unless you elect to gain access to the paid tools they have available. So why cry about getting an email praising you for being 1 in 100 or 1 in 20? It’s a small price to pay for having access to such a powerful networking platform – for free. LinkedIn wasn’t sneaky. They were just doing what they should be doing — promoting you, so that you promote their website. What does that mean? It means more people visiting LinkedIn, and more free exposure for you and your profile. It is completely ridiculous to be angry about a company doing their job and promoting themselves — and you — so that everybody wins.

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  14. suzykedz

    Hi all – Yes, it’s brilliant marketing. But is it any different than when some company gets you to “like” them on Facebook to be entered into a drawing to win their product? It’s all social media marketing. Word of mouth marketing. Turning you into a brand ambassador for them. I think this is really a brilliantly thought-out and executed campaign. Please read my posting and let me know what you think:

  15. Joanne Quinn-Smith

    Justin, I like your take on this.

    I think the statistics are good. I think it’s also a great marketing ploy to not only add value to LinkedIn, don’t you want one of your social media entities to be more valuable? But the truth is it is not surprising that these numbers are compiled because of your usage and number of contacts. I too was in the top 5% and then a little miffed that I was not in the top 1%. But I know the reason. I search for quality contacts. Being in the media, New Media I get at least twenty invites a day.

    I am very particular about whom I link with. If I don’t know someone at least who they are; if they don’t have a picture; if I cannot help them or they cannot help me or at least explain why we should be connected; I simply don’t connect. To date I have 657 connections but I pretty much know everyone I am connected to. I am sure by the algorithm that LinkedIn is using if I connected with everyone who offers, I would be in the top 1%. Don’t care to be. Being SOCIAL is about just that, forming relationships on your network and you have to be a lot more energetic than me to have real relationships with a 1,000 plus contacts. I am a subscriber to the old bull and the young bull philosophy but if you want that story you must email me privately because it is not for general consumption. It makes a point though in both love and social media. I am 63 and not sure with all of my other prolific activity online like talkcasts and blogs and my own social media network that I have the energy to be in the top 1%.

    Also what is the proverb about work and business, 5% of the people do 80% of the work? Sorry , this is a paraphrase and my numbers may be off. So 10% of the people are providing 90% of the content possibly. That’s just life and it’s also good marketing to point that out.
    Just in case you want to make my numbers and YOURS go up for the next round, you can find my profile at:

    If you want to connect with me, then let me know you read my comment on this article, I will at least know you are listening, another quality of a power social media user.

    Also thank you Jeff for getting this conversation going, that’s what getting social is all about. Kudos to you and all of the comments you have inspired.

  16. Ken

    How do people “fall” for this? What is there to fall for? Are they that bad at math? 10% of 200 million is ___________? 1% of 200 million is ___________? Out of 200 million, for goodness sakes, their profile was viewed quite often. HOW is that a bad thing? A bit too much angst and apparent self-loathing, maybe?

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  18. Mark Richards

    Does this fall in line with the outrageous high amounts of new profiles that were fake and not real people. Number fluffers for the stock to go up prior to Linked In going public. People want to have a high amount of connections so badly they just accepted anyone that sent an invite. When you really look at the profile prior to accepting you will notice that they have absolutely no information on their profile. So then they started adding a little information, by getting those profiles into oddball groups that have nothing to do with the background of the individuals title or job industry. What kind of scam would you call that? I still have to go through every invitation to make sure that the person sending the invitation is or at least has recommendations prior to accepting their invitation. I love Linked In just wish they would do a little more to protect us from scams especially ones that they start!

  19. Vladimir

    My take on this: I see it as one more showcase teaching people to win by not being honest. You just do something that is not illegal; at the same time it is not true and it is not right either. You just fool a lot of people and, if money is involved it is even better. Hey, who cares about honesty any more. You fooled them all. You got them.
    Personally, I am not comfortable with that.

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  21. Dan B

    I find this interesting, my whole staff at our company are on Linked In and only 2 associates received this recognition. 20 million people got it, that is 10% of their membership. They represent 200 million, I’ll take the award and run with it.

  22. Jude The Foodie

    This is great. When I got it I thought of Buddy in “Elf” when he saw “Worlds best coffee” in the window and enthusiastically went in, shook their hands and congratulated them.

    But, aren’t we living in a world where this is done all of the time? After all, there are no winners or losers in so many little leagues these days…everyone gets a trophy!

    Great post!


    Have a yummy day!

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