What are your thoughts on the LinkedIn Social Selling Index score - vanity metric or valuable tool?
Some say it’s a helpful metric of performance on LinkedIn, while others say it’s useless. Where do you stand? Do you use the SSI or even know what it is?
The validity and usefulness of LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI) continues to be a source of much debate among those in sales, leadership and digital marketing.
In this post, I’ll provide an overview of LinkedIn’s SSI score, and how you can utilize it, if you wish to do so.
Ultimately, you’ll need to answer the “how important is the LinkedIn SSI score” question for yourself.
What is LinkedIn's SSI score?
LinkedIn describes its Social Selling Index as a “first-of-its-kind measure of a company’s or individual’s adaptation of the four pillars of selling on LinkedIn, based on a scale of 0 to 100.”
Performance in each of the four pillars is measured, and the compiled score is your Social Selling Index ranking. The maximum score for each pillar is 25 and LinkedIn says the SSI is a “measure of a salesperson’s social selling skills and execution”. LinkedIn also claims that “statistics show that as a salesperson’s social selling index rises, so does their sales success.”
LinkedIn’s SSI score measures you, or your company’s, performance in four key areas, also known as the LinkedIn SSI pillars. They are:
- Create a Professional Brand
- Find the Right People
- Engage with Insights
- Build Strong Relationships
Under Create a Professional Brand, LinkedIn looks at key elements such as have you put together a complete and professional looking profile that includes a cover photo? How many LinkedIn Publisher posts have you created, and how many page views are your posts generating? How many followers have you gained?
To Find the Right People, LinkedIn wants you to prospect efficiently, by finding the right people with their lead builder system and reaching out to relevant people with insights.
That leads to the third pillar, Engage with Insights, which LinkedIn defines as “Discover and share valuable information to initiate or maintain a relationship.” This measures engagement, in terms of the number of shares, likes and comments your posts are receiving.
Finally, the first three pillars culminate in the fourth: Build Strong Relationships. This pillar measures how successful you are at expanding your network to not only reach direct prospects, but also those who can introduce you to prospects.
LinkedIn then calculates your score by measuring performance in each of the four areas, and they’ve recently tweaked their metrics to make the user’s SSI score “more predictive,” while including the new ways LinkedIn has developed for the user to socially sell.
New elements include adding activities that can be done through Sales Navigator, adding metrics that measure quality as well as quantity and including publishing platform activities.
How Important is the LinkedIn SSI Score?
As noted, LinkedIn claims that the higher the user’s score, the more successful that person or company is at reaching their sales goals. For example, they say that highly active LinkedIn users gain 45% more sales opportunities, are 51% are more likely to hit their quotas and are 80% more productive.
While the score is not a guarantee of increased sales success, it does make a strong connection between specific and targeted networking activities and an increase in sales opportunities and potential prospects. Having said that, it's still up to you to find and utilize the tools that help you grow your sales and/or business while keeping track of which activities are actually producing results.
Opinions vary widely as to whether LinkedIn’s SSI tool is helpful, and when I posted this question recently to my LinkedIn network, I got a variety of responses among the 171 comments.
“In general, SSI is a great tool to help users navigate the world of LinkedIn,” writes one user.
“We may have different purposes for using LinkedIn, but regardless of our purpose, the four pillars are great metrics to tell us if we’re on the right track.” This LinkedIn user also noted some discrepancies she saw based on whether she connected with executives and CEOs or students, with her scores rising for connections to the former, and falling when connecting to the latter.
LinkedIn trainer Mike Shelah notes that while the SSI can be helpful, he also thinks it's somewhat biased.
“I had a score in the mid-90s for quite some time and then it dropped 10 points one day. It was unclear as to why. I will say it happened around the same time I stopped using the LinkedIn blog platform and then sharing those blogs to my groups. The biggest revelation for me was the 80/20 rule is in full effect: 80% of people on LinkedIn seem to be casual users, at best, and the other 20% of us dominate the platform.”
A LinkedIn user who works as a copywriter said that while he looks at his SSI from time to time, he doesn’t think it’s a particularly useful measure. “My understanding is that SSI is a relative score based on your perceived influence within your network,” he wrote, adding that a high score might mean you’re a big fish in a small pond, while a low score could mean you’re connected with lots of highly influential people.
Communications Consultant Andrew O’Hearn says he thinks the SSI is “just a way for LinkedIn to plug Sales Navigator.” He said he has long advocated “engaging with insights” and “finding the right people” offline as well as online.
“Do we really want to reinforce the ‘keyboard commando’ proclivities of some LinkedIn users who don’t often test their online assumptions in the real (face-to-face) business-related networking communities?”
Another LinkedIn Consultant agreed that the SSI score is not always relevant to everyone, or even everyone’s business. However, she adds, in her work with smaller businesses she finds the index to be a great tool to establish metrics, and a general indicator of progress.
What information can I gain from my LinkedIn SSI score?
From your LinkedIn SSI score, you can determine how well you're doing in building your profile to attract the right kind of clients, while establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field. As you complete your profile with the customer in mind and publish meaningful posts, your professional brand score will begin to rise.
You can learn how to identify better prospects in less time by taking advantage of LinkedIn’s profile search function, and as you find the right people to reach out to, your SSI score in this area increases.
Posting relevant content can help you become a trusted source of insights while engaging with insights from others. Also, engage in discussions with those in your network and the groups you are a member of.
Strengthen your network by connecting and establishing trust with decision makers. Connect with contacts and build a larger network. This gives you greater leverage in finding new prospects, as well as getting a foot in the door with prospective clients.
How do I improve my LinkedIn SSI score?
LinkedIn and Social Selling Expert Joshua B. Lee says there are several things you can do to improve your SSI score, such as completing your profile with the customer in mind. In addition, share with others what you can bring to the table and why you would be the right fit for the professional needs in your niche market.
You can also increase your visibility by posting and interacting with high-quality content that's helpful and appropriate for followers. Also, give out endorsements for both customers and colleagues, and don’t forget to list your skills as a simple, efficient way to show your prospects how you can help them.
Lee also recommends searching for, and reaching out to, viable prospects, and utilizing warm introductions to grow your network. Also, take advantage of who has viewed your profile and engage relevant viewers as a way to expand your network.
Finally, connect with other users and start building on the foundation of trust that’s necessary for establishing and maintaining successful relationships. After connecting, develop the relationship just as you would have before LinkedIn existed, reaching out periodically at appropriate times, and adding value while helping prospects by sharing their updates and reposting what they’ve published.
Is LinkedIn's SSI score just a vanity metric?
Social Selling Trainer Dave Howe calls LinkedIn’s SSI score “The ultimate vanity metric of the social selling world.”
“People proudly wear their SSI score like a badge of honor - reaching a score above 80 is truly thought of as a rite of passage.”
Is he right? Or does a score of 80 and above show the LinkedIn community that a person or business is on the cutting edge in their field as a thought leader, and that they've earned their ranking through an ongoing commitment to daily activity and interaction?
What to focus on and what not to bother with?
Some have asked the question, “What should I focus on regarding the LinkedIn SSI score and what can I ignore?”
Because all four pillars are interconnected in determining the overall SSI, it’s not likely that any of them can be ignored if you're determined to build a respectable score of 80 or above, however, the first pillar - Establishing your professional brand - is foundational, even if you're not concerned with the other three.
Many LinkedIn users build their profile, establish their professional brand and do very little after that. Serious LinkedIn users will want to engage in all four pillars to establish themselves as thought leaders within the LinkedIn community.
The verdict on the LinkedIn SSI score is…
As noted, the validity and/or usefulness of LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index continues to be a source of much debate, and the community seems fairly evenly divided on the question.
While the debate rages, the true question is more personal: Where do you stand and is LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index a tool you use or plan to begin using? If you are using it, what will you do to raise your SSI score and increase your social selling success with current clients and prospects?
This post was first published on the Top Dog Social Media blog.