Misusing the word “Unique”

Dear LinkedIn,

Today I got an email from you saying that my profile was one of the top 5% viewed in 2012, and that you now have 200 million members. You were also kind enough to thank me for my unique contribution to your community. Your exact words were: Thanks for playing a unique part in our community!”


Unique means “one of a kind”.

Being in the top 5% of profiles means that there were 10 million other people in the same boat as me. That is a very long way from being unique. I’m also very familiar with my activity on LinkedIn (after all, I’m the one doing it). My activity basically includes logging into the site when I get an email from you telling me I need to because I have a message or something. I suspect that this is also far from unique behaviour.

I also question the validity of a marketing plan that attempts to build a sense of community by trying to convince users that they are unique. Which, let’s remind ourselves, means that they are all different from each other.

Congratulations on making it to 200 million members. Facebook has over 1 billion. Twitter has over 500 million, and although neither is as old or as established as LinkedIn, you should still be proud of the milestone.

Kind regards,


PS. Misusing the word “unique” is one of my pet hates. Did you guess?