Finally Find Out Who LinkedIn Users Are

First Study of Member Demographics Shows Site Has Moved Beyond Niche Tool

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YORK, Pa. ( -- Millions of people have been queried, invited and even cajoled into joining the business social network LinkedIn. And more than 30 million of them have accepted. But while we knew LinkedIn members used the site for business reasons -- vs. the more purely social networks such as Facebook or MySpace -- we didn't know exactly who they were.
What makes people join LinkedIn
Some are looking for jobs, others want to network and more than a few just jumped on the bandwagon.
Roll over a piece of the pie to see who's LinkedIn.

Until now. LinkedIn's recently adopted policy of allowing market researchers to survey its members makes it easier to find out who they are and target them for both research and marketing. The first public study of users' demographics and psychographics has just been completed by research firm Anderson Analytics, along with LinkedIn and text-mining company SPSS.

What they found is that LinkedIn has moved beyond an online niche tool. Its members span a wide range of ages, industries, job titles, and education and income levels.

"It showed us that LinkedIn has really become a tool for all information workers," said Dan Shapero, LinkedIn director-business services. "Some people believe that LinkedIn is a place for job hunters, some believe it's a place for serious networkers and others think it's a way to keep in touch with old colleagues. This study shows those are all true."

For marketers, the upshot is the ability to pick and choose business psyches, whether for research or target-marketing messages. "I recently had a client who only wanted Fortune 500 company VP-level executives in human resources. I'm not sure where else you can get access to that," said Tom Anderson, managing partner, Anderson Analytics.

Still, there are distinct and similar characteristics that both divide and unite LinkedIn members. The majority of them are technology early adopters, for instance, but they differ widely when it comes to favorite websites.

The researchers, who sampled 70,000 members and surveyed a random sample of 800 with a 10-minute online questionnaire, came up with four main types of LinkedIn users, along with several general characteristic designations. We used Anderson's data to define each.

Digging deeper to find out more

Site's users are willing research participants, and many have the purchasing control at their jobs


Decision makers

LinkedIn claims a lot of decision makers. About 16% say they have sole responsibility for purchasing in their departments, and another 20% say they share the responsibility. The decision makers also have fairly hefty budgets, with 13% at $50,000 or more. This group also logs in to LinkedIn more often than non-decision makers and tends to have more connections, averaging between 40 and 50. Fifty-nine percent of decision makers say they are the first to try out new tech devices, software and/or websites, significantly higher than the 24% of all members who claim early- adopter status.


Titles that make money

Do you know what your job title says about you? LinkedIn does. Using text analytics and other data, Anderson ran income and work- purchasing-power levels against various words used in job titles. The No. 1 payday term was "VP," with those who included it in their headline job descriptions on LinkedIn raking in a mean income of $190,000. It was followed by "advertising," at $185,000; "contractor," at $150,000; "chief ___ officers" at $145,555; and "partner" at $126,429. Tops in work purchasing power were members with "chief officer" in their title, at $252,262, followed by "information" at $212,500 (but only $87,500 in personal income ranking No. 21); "VP," at $200,250; "advertising," at $175,000; and "contractor," at $154,375. Next performance review, ask your boss if you can become the "VP-chief advertising contractor officer."


Survey takers

To learn more about how LinkedIn's new research policy might play out, the survey queried users to find out if they were willing survey takers. Sixty-one percent said they would likely take a survey about their field of expertise; 49% said they would take one on their industry in general; 48% on products they use; 39% on LinkedIn; and 36% on technology. The study also found that LinkedIn users are a fresh research audience, LinkedIn's Dan Shapero said: 68% have never been on a research panel.
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