Should You Advertise On LinkedIn? Probably Not.

LinkedIn launched in 2003 as a network that “connects the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” With over 500 million users, LinkedIn is the largest “professional” network on the internet. So why wouldn’t you want to spend money on the network? Let’s look at this a little deeper.

Marketing is a Numbers Game

Let’s look at this from a sheer numbers standpoint. LinkedIn reports it has over 500 million registered users. Great, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The real measurement of how many people use a certain network is Monthly Active Users or MAUs. This is exactly what it sounds like. It is a measurement of how many unique people have logged into their account in a given month. The reason this is more accurate when judging a social network is there are many people who have created accounts but are not active on the site and rarely log in. Accounting for these people just inflates the numbers of the network.

So what are the largest social media networks in terms of Monthly Active Users? Here they are:

Social Media Network Monthly Active Users

  1. Facebook – 2 billion MAUs
  2. YouTube – 1.5 billion MAUs
  3. WhatsApp – 1.3 billion MAUs
  4. Facebook Messenger – 1.3 billion MAUs
  5. WeChat – 963 million MAUs
  6. QQ – 850 million MAUs
  7. Instagram – 700 million MAUs
  8. QZone – 606 million MAUs
  9. Tumblr – 368 million MAUs
  10. Sina Weibo – 361 million MAUs
  11. Twitter – 328 million MAUs
  12. Baidu Tieba – 300 million MAUs
  13. Skype – 300 million MAUs
  14. Viber – 260 million MAUs
  15. Snapchat – 255 million MAUs

*Numbers pulled from The Statistica Portal

I hope you noticed LinkedIn isn’t on the list… So where is it? The network comes in 19th with 106 million MAUs.

Yeah, but what is QQ and QZone and Sina Weibo? We don’t use those in the US, right?

If we compare MAUs of social networks that are popular in the United States, LinkedIn still comes in 11th. Over 100 million people is a lot of people, don’t get me wrong. But Facebook has almost 19 times more Monthly Active Users than LinkedIn.

Well, I’m not targeting the world. What about users in the US? Here you go:

Social Media Network Monthly Active Users in the United States

  1. Facebook – 135 million MAUs
  2. Facebook Messenger – 102 million MAUs
  3. Instagram – 77 million MAUs
  4. Snapchat – 51 million MAUs
  5. Twitter – 48 million MAUs
  6. Pinterest – 44 million MAUs
  7. Google Hangouts – 19 million MAUs
  8. WhatsApp – 17 million MAUs
  9. Skype – 14 million MAUs
  10. Tinder – 10 million MAUs
  11. GroupMe – 9 million MAUs
  12. Tumblr – 8 million MAUs
  13. Kik – 7 million MAUs
  14. Reddit – 6 million MAUs
  15. LINE – 2 million MAUs

*Numbers pulled from The Statistica Portal

Again, LinkedIn didn’t make the list. Where do they land? Well… I’m not really sure. I didn’t find any official reporting on LinkedIn’s Monthly Active Users coming from the United States. One blogger claims to have sources within Microsoft (who owns LinkedIn). If you believe this blogger, LinkedIn hasn’t reported recently on this because LinkedIn’s Monthly Active Users are dropping. How far have they dropped? According to this post, MUAs in the US has dropped to 10 million users per month in spring of 2017. This is from an estimated 30 million MAUs at the end of 2016. Ouch.

If you believe LinkedIn has 30 million MAUs, it would put them at 7th on the list of most popular US social networks between Pinterest and Google Hangouts. If you believe they have 10 million MAUs, that would make them tied with the kinda creepy “dating” app Tinder.

Whichever you believe, the numbers aren’t great. Admittedly, I am a skeptic, but I also think if LinkedIn’s numbers were increasing they would be telling everyone who would listen. They have been pretty quiet, and that’s not usually a good sign.

It’s a “Professional Network” for Professionals

Based on my calculations, there are 140,915,000ish working-aged adults (25 – 64-years-old) in the US. By giving LinkedIn the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume they have 30 million active users in the US. That means just over 21% of potential users are active on the network.

Admittedly, this is not separating out white collar and blue collar jobs. This would matter because you could make the assumption that blue collar workers may not need to be on a network for “professionals” where white collar workers would. If we did, the percentage would obviously be higher, but I think this is still a solid representation. The “World’s Largest Social Network for Professionals” doesn’t actually have that many professionals on the network.

The Cost of Targeting Professionals

Let’s do a little experiment. I created a similar ad campaign on LinkedIn and Facebook. I got the targeting as close as I could on both networks. Here’s the targeting:


  • Location: Greater Milwaukee Area
  • Job Titles: doctor, physician, anesthesiologist, gastroenterologist, medical director, orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon
  • Age: 25 to 54


  • Location: people who live in the Milwaukee DMA
  • Job Titles: doctor, physician, anesthesiologist, gastroenterologist, medical director, orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon
  • Age: 30 to 55

Pretty close, right?

LinkedIn told me my potential reach would be 400+ people. They also recommended I use a CPC bid of $10.93. This means LinkedIn will charge me $10.93 every time someone clicks on my ad. They made a note that my minimum bid allowed would be $4.75. Alright, math time. If my total campaign budget was $350 and my cost per click is $10.93, I should expect to receive around 32 clicks during the campaign.

Let’s look at my Facebook campaign. Facebook told me my potential reach was 3,600 people, and, with a $350 budget, I could expect to reach between 400 and 2,500 people and receive 16 to 100 clicks. Not for the entire campaign, though. I would see those numbers per day. Math time, again. With the $350 budget and getting between 16 to 100 clicks per day, the cost per click for this campaign would be between $0.25 and $1.56 if the campaign was active for 14 days.

I can understand the sales pitch of how you should pay a premium to target professionals on a network of only professionals. But a 600% premium seems excessive.


I’m not saying that you shouldn’t create a profile and be active on LinkedIn. There are many strategies where you can utilize LinkedIn to grow your network, position yourself and business as a thought leader, and obtain customers and referrals. What I am saying is if you are going to only spend advertising dollars on one social network, it should not be on LinkedIn.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on this topic. Feel free to contact PatientX or email me directly anytime.


POSTED ON: November 1, 2017
By PatientX Agency | Marketing
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