LinkedIn is 277% more effective at <insert favorite task here> than other social media.

Wait.

What?

I had seen this statistic come up before so I decided to do some research. This is what I found. The actual statistic says,

LinkedIn 277% More Effective for Lead Generation Than Facebook & Twitter.

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. -Mark Twain

You may be wondering where I got this information.  Well, Hubspot gathered data from “over 5,000 businesses in a recent study.”  Oddly, later they specify that they surveyed exactly 5,198 companies, but the dates in the “recent” study go unspecified. It turns out that in traffic from LinkedIn to these companies websites, the traffic from LinkedIn turned into leads more often. Since it was first published, the 277 stat has often morphed into a lot of…variations. Many authors love to cite the exactness of the 277% but then totally make up what the 277% is better than.

LinkedIn Is 277% More Effective277% Better than what?

While researching this post I found the following post or article headlines:

  1. “Why LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating professional leads” What’s a professional lead? One that’s lost its amateur status?
  2. “Why LinkedIn is 277% more effective for blogging,” The original statistic said “Facebook and Twitter”. How did blogging get in here?
  3. “LinkedIn is 277% more effective than all of social media” We went from Facebook and Twitter to everybody.
  4. “Why LinkedIn is 277% more effective for marketing and sales”  Kind of drawing an extra conclusion from the data there, aren’t we?
  5. “Why LinkedIn is 277% more likely to drive website traffic”An interesting distinction. The original statistic talks about the quality of the traffic (someone who came from LinkedIn is more likely to become a lead). It’s been changed here to imply quantity.
  6. “Why LinkedIn is 277% more effective than other social networks” This is just lazy. What does “other social networks” mean? And “effective” is open to interpretation too.
  7. “Why LinkedIn is 277% more effective at driving B2B sales” More effective than what? Wearing a sandwich board on Main Street?
  8. “Why LinkedIn is 277% more likely to lead to a sales conversion than any other social media.” We went from leads to conversions and added any social media, not just Facebook, and Twitter.

LinkedIn Is 277% More EffectiveFour Score and Seven Tweets Ago

What started me on researching the 277 stat was I saw someone using it on their website last week, and I thought to myself “that’s pretty old.” So I checked. The 277 stat was released by Hubspot on January 30th, 2012. That’s right, this statistic celebrated it’s fourth birthday a couple of weeks ago.

Well, I hear many people say, just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s not still valid. I suppose that is possible but pretty darn unlikely. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are very different animals today than they were four years ago. Four years ago LinkedIn had Events and Signal and Polls. Four years ago, the LinkedIn Influencer program was a gleam in someone’s eye, still nine months away from its October 2012 release date. With the changes in all three of the social networks studied, you have to be pretty skeptical that this statistic is still valid. And one final anecdote. On Sept 14, 2015, someone wrote “in fact, in a recent Hubspot study…” and wheeled out the 277 stat.

Doesn’t sound quite so compelling anymore, does it?

Over three and a half years may be “recent” in some contexts, but in social media terms?Let me put it another way. If I wanted to use the 277 stat honestly, I would probably have to say:

“In a Hubspot study conducted over four years ago, LinkedIn was 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook & Twitter.”

The lesson here is not to beat on LinkedIn’s effectiveness now or four years ago, or Hubspot’s research then or now. They aren’t culprits here. It’s people who take a statistic and twist it to their purpose, and then it’s the rest of us who swallow these things whole without question and let the writers get away with it. As we can see from the 277 stat, even with citations, a statistic may be old or taken out of context.

LinkedIn Is 277% More EffectiveWhen you see a social media statistic that talks about the habits of “best in class” companies, be wary.

Here’s the original story on Hubspot. I don’t want to hurt feelings here but, all of the referred articles can be found by googling “LinkedIn is 277%”  and then scrolling through some of the more than 11,000 results.

 

If you liked this post, please comment and share this post. I think it will help my business, but have no statistics to back that up.

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About the Author: Bruce Johnston is sales coach and strategist specializing in LinkedIn. He believes LinkedIn is not all about your profile; it’s not all about being found. It is about being proactive. LinkedIn is a contact sport. He also trains a module on how to search LinkedIn effectively. If you would like to get in contact with him, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email brucejohnston115 [AT] gmail.com