LinkedIn Touts 200M Registered Users, but That’s a BS Metric

Published on January 9, 2013
by Liz Gannes

LinkedIn this morning said it had 200 million members, prompting a flurry of enthusiastic rewrites of its blog post, press release and “celebratory infographic” comparing LinkedIn to various citizenships of the world.

LinkedIninfographicBut hold on a second, people. That is the number of users LinkedIn has ever registered. It’s the easy-to-inflate stat that we’ve in the past dinged Google+, Twitter and others for touting instead of real current numbers about how many people actually actively use their services.

The reality is, people can sign up for your site and never return, or become frustrated and quit, or just stop caring at some point.

The industry standard is now monthly active users. Facebook has 1.01 billion. Twitter has 200 million. Google+ has 135 million. LinkedIn has … less than 200 million.

Perhaps LinkedIn is a bit different, because some people use it as a static resume site, and the majority of its revenue comes from recruiters and subscribers. Fair argument — there’s value in having a LinkedIn profile even if you don’t visit it every day.

But outdated resumes don’t do anyone any good, and every recent LinkedIn product release and startup acquisition has aimed to lift engagement — both to make the site a more important part of users’ lives, and to support marketing products, which account for 25 percent of LinkedIn revenue.

This is exactly the kind of “bullshit metric” — page views, registered users, app downloads — that people in the industry, including Mixpanel and Andreessen Horowitz, are currently railing against for being static and unreflective of a good user experience.

A spokeswoman for LinkedIn said the company does not disclose active user numbers.


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