What are your thoughts on the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI): vanity metric or valuable tool?
Some say it’s a helpful metric of performance on LinkedIn. Others say it’s a useless vanity metric.
Where do you stand? Do you use the SSI or even know what it is?
The validity and usefulness of the LinkedIn Social Selling Index continues to be a source of much debate among those in sales, leadership and digital marketing.
In this article, I give an overview of the LinkedIn SSI score and ways to utilize it to improve your social-selling and relationship-building efforts.
Ultimately, you need to answer the “how important is the LinkedIn SSI score?” question for yourself.
What is the LinkedIn 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.”
LinkedIn measures your performance in each of the four pillars, and the compound score is your Social Selling Index.
The maximum score for each pillar is 25. LinkedIn says the SSI is a “measure of a salesperson’s social selling skills and execution” and claims that “statistics show that as a salesperson’s social selling index rises, so does their sales success.”
The LinkedIn SSI score measures your 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 the first pillar, Create a professional brand, LinkedIn looks at the elements that reflect your professional presence on LinkedIn. For example:
- Do you have a complete and professional-looking profile that includes a cover photo?
- How many endorsements have you received?
- How many LinkedIn Publisher posts have you written?
- How many followers did you gain from your articles?
- How many page views are your posts generating?
- How many overall followers are you gaining?
To assess the second pillar, Find the right people, LinkedIn looks at whether you prospect efficiently, using its lead builder system. Are you finding the right people and reaching out to relevant people with useful information? It considers the data related to your connections and the acceptance rate of your connection requests.
That leads to the third pillar, Engage with insights. According to LinkedIn, it means to “discover and share valuable information to initiate or maintain a relationship.” This measures engagement. It looks at the number of shares, likes and comments your posts receive. It also looks at the messages you send and their response rate.
Finally, the first three pillars culminate in the fourth pillar: Build strong relationships. This pillar measures how successful you are at expanding your network to reach not only your prospects but also those who can introduce you to prospects. LinkedIn factors in the number of people searches you have conducted, profiles you have viewed and days you have been active.
LinkedIn calculates your score by measuring performance in each of the four areas. These elements include activities that can be done through Sales Navigator, adding metrics that measure quality as well as quantity, and including publishing platform activities.
The Sales Navigator data they look at includes:
- People searches in Sales Navigator
- Profile views in Sales Navigator
- Leads saved in Sales Navigator
- Accounts saved in Sales Navigator
- Lead and Account Lists created in Sales Navigator
How important is the LinkedIn SSI score?
LinkedIn claims the higher the score, the more successful that person or company is at reaching their sales goals. For example, it says that highly active LinkedIn users:
- gain 45% more sales opportunities
- are 51% are more likely to hit their quotas
- are 80% more productive.
While the score is not a guarantee of increased sales success, it does represent a strong connection between specific networking activities and an increase in sales opportunities and potential prospects.
Having said that, it is still up to you to find and utilize the tools that help you grow your sales and/or business while keeping track of what activities are producing results.
Opinions vary widely as to whether LinkedIn’s SSI tool is helpful. When I asked my LinkedIn network about it, I got a variety of responses among the 304 comments. The responders seemed to be evenly split in their opinions.
“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 fluctuations in score assignments: when she connected with executives and CEOs, her scores rose, and when she connected to students, her scores fell.
LinkedIn trainer Mike Shelah notes that while the SSI can be helpful, it is 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 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 might 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?”
One LinkedIn consultant agrees that the SSI score is not always relevant to everyone or even everyone’s business. But in her work with smaller businesses, she adds, she finds the index to be a great tool to establish metrics and to track general progress.
What information can I gain from my LinkedIn SSI score?
From your LinkedIn SSI score, you can determine how well you are 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. As you find the right people to reach out to, your SSI in this area will increase.
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 need to do to improve your SSI score, such as complete 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 person to meet the needs of your niche market.
Further, you can increase your visibility by posting and interacting with high-quality content helpful to and appropriate for your followers. Also, write 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 the Who Viewed Your Profile feature, and engage relevant viewers to expand your network.
Finally, connect with other users and start building the foundation of trust necessary for establishing and maintaining successful relationships.
After connecting, develop the relationship just as you would have before LinkedIn existed. Reach out to your prospects periodically at appropriate times, add value to them by sharing relevant information, and help them by sharing their updates and reposting what they’ve published.
Is the LinkedIn Social Selling Index just a vanity metric?
Social Selling trainer Dave Howe calls LinkedIn’s SSI score “the ultimate vanity metric of the social selling world,” adding that “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 a thought leader in their field and that they have earned their ranking through an ongoing commitment to daily activities?
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 any of them can be ignored if you are determined to build a respectable score of 80 or above.
However, the first pillar – establishing your professional brand – is foundational even if you are not concerned with the other three. Many users 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 in the LinkedIn community.
LinkedIn’s SSI score for sales teams
One of the best ways to utilize the LinkedIn’s SSI score is to use it as a benchmark and a measure of the growth of your sales reps before, during and after they receive social selling training.
If your company uses Sales Navigator, both the team account admins and the whole team can see their SSI scores as well as a leaderboard of individuals on the team. Additionally, LinkedIn will provide team account admins with insights into how members of the team can increase their SSI scores.
The team account admins will also get usage reports, showing them how the overall team and individual team members are leveraging Sales Navigator. This includes the Sales Navigator and LinkedIn usage by team member, such as logins and the number of searches performed.
The verdict on the LinkedIn SSI score is…
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the validity and usefulness of LinkedIn Social Selling Index continues to be a source of much debate, and the community seems evenly divided on the question.
While the debate rages, you have to answer the following questions for yourself:
- Where do you stand on the score?
- Is LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index a tool you use or plan on 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?
I’d love to get your feedback in the comments if this article has helped you determine a course of action regarding the LinkedIn SSI score and how it affects your business.