There is a quirk to human nature where we want to fit in with everyone else and simultaneously stand out. We want to be just like everyone only more special so we find all sorts of ways of being better and validating our uniqueness.
As much of a rare and special purple unicorn snowflake I like to think I am, I know there are many others like me. Mathematically, if I’m in the top 1% in any category, there are roughly 70 million others on this planet who are at least as good. Heck, there are 3 million in the US alone.
Social media has done a great job of leveraging this psychological need: You have a new follower! (Can you believe it – someone likes me?!) Someone retweeted one of your tweets! (Holy cow, I must be special – they really like me and they think I’m a supergenius). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that someone else thinks that my thoughts might be useful – please keep following, retweeting, etc. – I’m just not convinced that it’s always an exclamation point kind of moment.
I, like many others, recently received notice from LinkedIn that my profile was in the top 10% of those visited. My thoughts rapidly went from Huh, that’s kind of cool to Are they sure? Really? to Man, they’re screwed if I’m top 10%.
Why are they screwed?
I don’t have that many connections. Not really, not at all. I’m pretty sure any mediocre sales person, recruiter, or social butterfly has more connections than me.
I’m not looking for a job so it’s not as if I’m doing anything to attract people to my profile.
No recruiters are calling me so it’s not like people are seeking me out.
Uhhhh, so if I have such little activity, why am I in the top 10%? AND if I’m top 10% where do all those poor folks who are trying to use LinkedIn to find work rate?
AND if I’m hitting the top 10% what meaning could this measure possibly have? What outcomes are happening as a result of my extraordinary accomplishment?
AND if I’m so unspecially special, where is LinkedIn making its money and who isn’t getting a return on their investment?
Hang on, top 10% of 200 million users is 20 million. Yep, not that special.
What thinks you?
Me thinks the same as you! I chuckled when I received my email and decided to continue to focus on being in the top 5% of a much smaller circle.
Agreed. A small circle that really cares is so much more powerful than a large circle that hardly notices…
My instant thought was, ‘Really? How’d I do that?’ I wasn’t displeased, which makes me laugh about your comments about needy inclusion, but I just assumed others must use it far less, rather than thinking I was a superstar!
Thanks for your comments. I find it interesting how social media sites work so hard to strike our egos, whether we need it our not. Like you I figured I used it more than others, but knowing how much I don’t really use it, I started wondering how 90% were using it less and how it stayed a viable site with such little use.
It’s been amazing ( and now boring ) to see everyone tweeting about how special they are ( suckers ). Trouble is, isn’t writing a post like this only helping LinkedIn raise their brand awareness ? And now I’m commenting on it, am I a sucker as well ?
I too was in the top 10% which only got me wondering what the *** the other 90% are doing and why are they on the site ?
Exactly. If I’m top 10 then someone isn’t getting their money’s worth…
I must say I’m feeling quite left out of the whole shebang. I’m not in any top percentile, and now feel distinctly unworthy. Should I leave LinkedIn as a result?
Also, just wondering, but do you pay for your usage of LI? I don’t and am considering there might be a correlation between being a paid member and therefore receiving a message like this.
The clever baskets.
Hi Sukh, I don’t pay anything so I am as dumbfounded as anyone. I do belong to a lot of groups and I cross post tweets on blogs I like, so my suspicion is that one or both of those are part of the metrics they measure. But, like many measures I think it’s misleading or in danger of having too much read into it because it says nothing about the strength of my connections or how it affects me in real life.
Bravo! This has been bouncing around in my head waiting to come out in a blog but you’ve expressed it so much better than I could Broc – thanks!
I was in the first million users back in the day, have a paid for subscription, and I’ve not been “awarded” any accolades… boohoo!!!
Actually I’m also quietly laughing at all the poor souls shouting “I made the list” and then seeing that A) it’s probably accidental rather than deliberate and B) as you said it’s hardly special given the number of users out there…
All this noise is doing is raising attention to the LinkedIn brand… Similar happened here in the UK with People Management’s top 20 power tweeters list… Loads of noise and accolade but if you checked the followers of those top 20 their following didn’t really deviate from the trajectory they were already attracting. However, People Management got loads of attention!!!
I may be cynical but I think the PR/Marketing folks know full well that the crack coated candy of social media is nothing more complicated than a list 🙂
Always fun to write what others are thinking – I consider that a high compliment.
I’ve no beef against those who clicked the button to send the news out – I was very tempted to. It seems like a fun thing – I was just struck by the “you’ve got to be kidding me” thought. Sort of like hearing I was People Magazine’s Sexiest Person of the Year – cool! wait – what? – that’s not possible!
It seems like LinkedIn has started doing a lot of things that are well intentioned, yet aren’t all that useful in the real world. The whole “Skills” thing seems useful yet is rife for gaming.
Am I special if I think you’re special?
William, that makes you one of a kind! 😉
I went through the same thought process as you, Broc when I received my notice from LinkedIn.
I’ve also seen a significant number of people re-post their congratulations from LinkedIn, and in many cases I thought to myself; “Not a chance!” Ha ha.
Is LinkedIn winning if we blog and/or complain about them publicly? Meaning, maybe this was a part of the plan by the man…
There is a very good chance I’ve unwittingly become a stooge and patsy for the Man.
If so, I pledge to create the same levels of buzz and conversation for any site that wants to put me on one of those “best of” lists that Tim Sackett always dominates.
Anything for the Man.
Completely brilliant Broc. I’d had exactly the same thought. “Really? I’m the top 10%? But I scarcely use the damned thing!” You just gave me a big laugh as i sit here in Dubai sweating a slow internet connection.
Don’t worry Broc. I think you’re special.
Thanks, Peter! Always happy to provide a chuckle.