Chances are good that you have a professional profile on LinkedIn.
But there’s also a good chance that you’re somewhat in the dark about the way the site functions.
It turns out, there’s a bunch of things the company doesn’t want its users to find out—like the fact that “endorsements” are basically useless.
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Curious what else you don't know?
Over at MarketWatch, personal finance reporter Quentin Fottrell rounded up the 10 most surprising facts about LinkedIn. Read on for some unexpected insights that could affect the way you use the site.
1. It’s still unclear whether LinkedIn is a social network or a jobs site.
Company reps say LinkedIn is both a social network like Facebook and a jobs site like CareerBuilder. That’s because you can share non-career-related information, too, and find jobs that are a cultural fit.
Other experts, however, say LinkedIn is hardly a social network—mostly because it doesn’t pay too many bills with money from advertising. Instead, 60% of its total revenue comes from "talent solutions," or recruiters and corporations shelling out to find new employees.
2. No one lingers on LinkedIn.
While mobile users spend about an hour a month on Twitter and 10 hours a month on Facebook, they’re active on LinkedIn for less than 20 minutes.
LinkedIn spokespeople say they’re aiming to help people to become more productive, which suggests they don’t necessarily expect people to spend hours browsing connections’ updates.
3. Your posts probably won’t get too many views.
You may have seen some users sharing their personal experiences and opinions through LinkedIn’s news aggregator, “Pulse.”
But according to some experts, it’s better to publish a post on your own site than on LinkedIn—especially if you’re trying to boost the search engine optimization of your name, company or blog.
4. Endorsements aren’t especially effective.
So your friend thinks you have awesome copyediting skills. So what? The fact that it’s so easy to plug your pals means employers don’t place a high value on those endorsements.
Getting a recommendation from someone is another story, though, because those take substantial time and effort to write.
5. The site is anything but straightforward.
The first problem is signing up—users say it’s hard to know which membership program they should choose (as in “job seeker” or “business plus”). Moreover, many members complain about the excessive emails they receive from LinkedIn.
But company spokespeople say they’ve been working to simplify the site: For example, they recently whittled down the 12 premium membership options to just four.
6. Your privacy may be compromised.
Every time you complete a profile or use your account to sign into other sites, LinkedIn collects data. And any information you post on your LinkedIn profile may be visible to people outside your network—which is different from the way Facebook and Twitter work.
That said, LinkedIn profiles typically contain less personal information than other social media profiles, so it might be less of a concern for users.
7. The lack of transparency is frustrating.
Some members are annoyed that you can’t see everyone who’s viewed your profile recently, unless you have a premium subscription. Instead, all you see are silhouettes.
8. You’ll likely come across some phonies.
And we’re not just talking about people who embellish their job history. A surprising number of LinkedIn profiles are entirely fake. Sometimes these fake users are salespeople or recruiters; other times they’re looking to steal your profile photo and pass it off as their own.
To figure out whether a profile is real, run a quick Google search to see if the headshot is a stock photo, and be on the lookout for people whose resumes are a little too impressive.
9. The site needs more young’uns.
In order to grow its membership, LinkedIn must attract users in their late teens and twenties. But the network currently has far fewer young users than sites like Facebook and Twitter—in fact, less than a quarter of people ages 18 to 29 use LinkedIn.
According to the company, however, students and recent college grads are one of its fastest-growing demos.
10. The share price could be inflated.
Since LinkedIn’s initial public offering in 2011, the company’s share price has more than doubled. And the stock increased 20% in February after the company reported a small profit.
Still, some investors are uncertain that the stock price is sustainable, because LinkedIn needs to continue to convince people their services are really worth paying for.