Does a snarky LinkedIn summary get you fewer profile views?
My test on two LinkedIn profile summaries
(Spoiler: Yes. Also: I don’t know.)
DOES A SNARKY LinkedIn summary situate you on the lower rungs of the professional network totem pole?
The LinkedIn least common denominator prefers agreeability over an atypical attitude. So for all this talk about diversity, creativity, and autonomy (going your own way), the watered-down LinkedIn business person (or the LinkedIn-connected IT or outsourcing professional) still drinks a bland, conformist Americano instead of shooting an exotic-blend double espresso. At least that’s what my experiment seems to suggest. Also, what the hell do I know?
First, let’s define snarky.
Next, let’s look at the two summaries: the Okay one and the Snarky one. Both maxed out the LinkedIn allowance of 2,000 characters. Using the very rudimentary framework of counting positive (or positive-skewing) words, negative (or negative-skewing) words, and business/industry keywords and calculating each category’s percentage contribution to the entire summary, we can fabricate such metrics as a Snark Score or a Sunshine Index to give the illusion of credibility and science to this arbitrary analysis and legitimize its results. Everything is branding! What’s more, the judgment of whether or not a word is positive, negative, business/industry-relevant, neutral, or significant is completely, personally subjective!
THE OKAY SUMMARY contained 45 instances of positive-skewing words like "new," "smart" or "smarter," "happier," and "improve" or "improvement."
The only negative word was "stalled," for an overall positive-to-negative word ratio (or a Sunshine-to-Snark Ratio) of a staggering 45:1.
The Okay summary also featured 56 business and industry keywords and phrases, such as "sales," "BPO," "business development," and "Manila."
Looking only at these significant words (102 of them), this Okay summary was 55 percent Business or Industry, 45 percent Positive, and only 1 percent Negative. So it’s pretty sunny.
THE SNARKY SUMMARY, on the other hand, used 16 negative-skewing words, among them "annoying," "inflexibility," and "reactive." I included "rock 'n' roll" and "LMFAO" in this negative-skewing list, because — let’s face it — with or without analysis, the general stuck-up LinkedIn populace frowns upon unconventional words like these.
It had only 34 positive-skewing words and 39 business keywords, for a total significant word count of 89. (Again, both profile summaries reached the 2,000-character limit.)
It’s pretty snarky at 44 percent Business, 38 percent Positive, and 18 percent Negative — 18 times more negative than the Okay summary!
WHAT I DID not change or control:
- what I posted or published
- whom I connected with
- what activities I engaged in (status updates, shares, likes, comments)
SO WHAT ARE THE RESULTS? I could have used the number of connection requests I received as a metric, but I decided to go with my percentage rank among my connections. That’s the metric that LinkedIn puts in front of you as soon as you login anyway.
On my first week of tracking the Okay/Sunny profile summary, I was — at best — on the top 29 percent of my 262-connection network, for a raw ranking of 76th.
So I switched to the Snarky summary, and the highest rank I got over a two-week period was top 43 percent among 265 connections (rank 114th).
I fell 38 places once my profile summary became snarky!
So I went back to the Okay/Sunny summary and stayed there another two weeks. I shot up to fame among my 265 connections again to the top 28 percent (rank 74th) — better than when I originally started.
That should have already been conclusive, but just for kicks, I brought back the snark for almost a week. Surprisingly, I dipped only very slightly by three places to top 29 percent among 266 connections — rank 77th.
So finally, I decided to stay Okay/Sunny and, lo and behold, I achieved my best ranking yet: top 21 percent among 276 connections, rank 58th. This was 19 places higher than the latest snarky ranking and 56 notches higher than the lowest-ranked snarky period.
So there you have it.
A snarky LinkedIn profile summary makes you less popular.
It makes people look away and see you less (less of a person, if you want to be dramatic).
Are these results conclusive? I’d say they’re reinforcement for a commonly held belief.
Am I going to test the snark again? Nah.
Because why offer an exotic-blend double espresso, when the public can take only a watered-down Americano?