LinkedIn Demographics – Who Uses LinkedIn

September 26th, 2008 | by Jason Alba |

I’ve seen this before, but now I can point to a TechCrunch post about LinkedIn Demographics (actually, about advertising on LinkedIn, but that’s not what my post is about).  Check this out: 

Average Age: 41

Household Income: $109,703

Male: 64%

One of my favorite books is How to Lie With Statistics.  After reading that very short book (required reading for my stats class) I came to doubt all reported statistics.  These numbers aren’t hard to doubt. 

For me, I kind of don’t care about the average age (41?), although I’m hoping it goes down as more younger people who are accustomed to Facebook get a LinkedIn profile as they get more serious about their career management.  At the same time, maybe the older people who thought they’d retire by now are realizing they should have a LinkedIn profile also.

I don’t care about the male/female demographics… 64% doesn’t mean anything to me… maybe it does to marketers.

The one that really gets me is the household income.  I used to get miffed when I heard LinkedIn claims their average user makes $110k/year.  What?  They have 28 million signups who are making that much money (on average)?  NO WAY!  Especially when considering the number of users who are in countries where that income is unheard of.

Today, though, I had two epiphany to help me make sense out of this figure. 

First theory this is the demographic for the LinkedIn Professional (see the title on the image?).  Perhaps they break down their user descriptions into things like professional, student, slouch, etc.  I certainly wouldn’t fall into the “professional” bracket.  So, are they only averaging the incomes of a portion of their 28 million signups?

Second theory: … duh, it says HOUSEHOLD income.  That makes sense… since there are so many household with two breadwinners.  If the man makes $55k a year, and the woman makes $55k a year, that adds up to $110k.  That makes a lot more sense. 

But it seems deceptive to ME, a NON-marketer.  Because for so long I thought LinkedIn was claiming the USER’S average income was $110k, not the user plus spouse.

Okay, I can believe that number now.  First impression was way off base.

Do you believe it?

  1. 13 Responses to “LinkedIn Demographics – Who Uses LinkedIn”

  2. By Kris on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

    Jason,

    I too have a hard time with that statistic, I am on Linkedin and many of my friends and colleagues and we don’t make nearly that much money.

    I like your theories, but have to wonder if they put a comma in the wrong place and a typo on the first number, ha! Probably not though.

  3. By Paul Scheer on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

    It may be true. It may not be true. The problem I have with this figure, or any of the other demographics data, it that it is not clear how it was derived. There is nothing on a LinkedIn profile that identifies age, gender or income.

    So how did they come on this number? Randomly sample the membership? OK, what was the sampling method? Were “outliers” systematically filtered out by the sampling method? What’s the confidence interval?

    I personally don’t have a problem with statistics and I don’t think all statistics (or statisticians) lie. But they can be wildly misleading if presented in a ga-ga manner like here. Think of those obnoxious TV ads for various prescription drugs. The list of possible side effects and contra-indications — required by law — often takes longer to read than the actual sales pitch. My view is that similar truth in advertising provisions should apply to any ad containing statistics.

  4. By Nancy B on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

    With the boomers still in the job market the heft could easily be +50?

    With that high a percentage of college grads I think the household income is rather low?

    Was that slide created for Blackberry / HTC / Palm ? Looks like a great opportunity zone for the PDA companies!

  5. By Teena in Toronto on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting stats!

  6. By Anders Thomsen on Sep 27, 2008 | Reply

    I didn’t believe the figures either,so thanks for pointing out the bit about *household* income. Now it makes more sense, but it still seems a useless statistic to me anyway – many LinkedIn members are from parts of the world where salaries are very different from the US.

    Sounds like another case of using statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post – for support rather than illumination.

  7. By Scott Ingram on Sep 27, 2008 | Reply

    I think this number sounds pretty legitimate, but is skewed by 2 different things:

    One you mentioned, the “household” which will make the number substantially higher than if they’d said “individual income.”

    I also imagine there’s some major skew provided by some really high numbers at the top. Michael Dell and many other Fortune 500 CEO’s and Executives are on LinkedIn. For each of those that has an annual income of $50M that would offset 500 users with $0 income and create an average across all 501 of $100,000. Clearly this would skew the number MUCH higher than a large stack of users with no income at all.

    Happy Networking!

  8. By Mariam Ispahani on Sep 27, 2008 | Reply

    Howdy… I want to know where they came up with these numbers, because I never saw a survey we had to fill out with our info.

    Re the stats, maybe given that there are so many CEOs and VPs, Silicon Valley folks, and people who tend to network a lot in biz circles, and all that jazz… thus, people in the higher income and high energy age groups came out on top.

    -m-

  9. By Steven Burda, MBA on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

    Interesting post… I am not 41 (yet) and do not make $109.7K USD (yet). :)

    Lets revisit this in few more years…

    -Steven Burda
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/burda
    http://burda.lyro.com

  10. By Steve Tylock on Sep 28, 2008 | Reply

    I’m with Mariam – let’s throw this back into question – where does that income number come from? A “statistically valid sampling”? I know they haven’t asked me – sure – statistically insignificant, but still;-)

    steve

  11. By Brielle on Sep 29, 2008 | Reply

    Where do they get the statistics? Same place as usual by sampling. You know how many people they survey to get the stats on anything for all of America? It’s a few thousand people from which they extrapolate.

    I’m close to the average there. I’m 40. Make more than $109,000 (I am a household of one) but I’m female.

    I do believe the male stats. Very few of my female business colleagues are on Linked In. It’s also no surprise that if the average user (or his household) is making 109,000 that he would be male.

    The male-centricity of Linked In is a problem and it bothers me. It’s the old boys network online and something should be done to make it easier for women. Better privacy controls for example.

  12. By Lisa Hendrickson on Nov 2, 2008 | Reply

    I’m 40, Head of household (puppy and 2 cats) female, own a business, have a college degree, own a blackberry and 4 computers. I guess I fit the demographic except I don’t make $109 a year, not yet!

    Goal: make $109,000 in 2009

  1. 2 Trackback(s)

  2. Dec 17, 2008: LinkedIn’s soon-to-be-missed opportunity « Diablogue
  3. Jan 20, 2009: LinkedIn’s soon-to-be-missed opportunity

Post a Comment