As LinkedIn share buttons pop up across the web and share counts climb, it appears LinkedIn is quickly becoming a major platform for sharing articles and links. I fell for it, the numbers on the share buttons fooled me two months ago when I wrote Which Social Network is Right for B2B Marketing.

The truth is, LinkedIn isn’t where we share. With LinkedIn’s valuation soaring like its the next Fortune 500, you have to ask, if we are not sharing on LinkedIn, is LinkedIn really a major social platform? Or is it a great platform for business connections and profiles. [Yes, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, I’m just not placing buy orders today.]

LinkedIn share counts combine Twitter and LinkedIn sharing into a single aggregate share number. If you have ever added your Twitter and LinkedIn share stats to get a total sharing number, you have double counted. But on most blogs (this one is an exception, why is below), there are more tweets than LinkedIn shares.

Below is a screenshot of the public shares on LinkedIn of a recent post. With the exception of my posting to LinkedIn, every one of the listed shares is followed by “via twitter”. This isn’t LinkedIn sharing, this is LinkedIn as a selective Twitter client.

In addition, despite the number of reported LinkedIn shares, this blog has less traffic from LinkedIn in the last week than from HootSuite, and consistently receives significantly more traffic from Twitter than from LinkedIn.

Here is what does drive LinkedIn’s sharing counts:

  1. Twitter. Many people still auto-post from Twitter to LinkedIn, which drives the visible sharing in the screen capture above.
  2. Twitter again. Based on my testing, it appears that any link posted from a Twitter account that is associated with a LinkedIn account (even if auto-sharing is not on) will count as a LinkedIn share. If your audience is marketing, that probably describes nearly everyone that would tweet your content. [If you have tested this more thoroughly, please let me know in the comments or on Twitter!]
  3. Link expansion. LinkedIn recognizes and ‘reads through’ more URL shorteners than Twitter does. Through Triberr, each one of my blog posts is tweeted more than a dozen times using one of Triberr’s URL shortener. LinkedIn recognizes the Triberr shorteners and counts these as LinkedIn shares, Twitter does not. [This is why LinkedIn sharing is higher than Twitter sharing on this blog].
  4. Sharing via LinkedIn. Of course, LinkedIn sharing does contribute to LinkedIn share counts. However, I would estimate that on this blog, more than 90% of the shares did not originate with LinkedIn.

Shortly after LinkedIn expanded sharing features, Mashable asked “Are LinkedIn users really link sharers? … Can LinkedIn truly become a hub for information-sharing?” It seems the answer to the first question is a resounding yes, but LinkedIn has not become the hub for information-sharing.

Does this information make you reconsider the importance of LinkedIn sharing? Does it make Facebook, with lower reported share counts, a more attractive location to focus on sharing and distributing your content, or other vertical networks? Share your perspective in the comments below or with me on Twitter.