Updated LinkedIn Compliance Program – What Does It Mean?

May 2, 2014

The new LinkedIn Compliance Program is not necessarily new, however, it is expanded. That is in participants, which was long overdue. In reality, this expansion to include more social media archivers in the partner program finally allows the industry to get into compliance.

Why now, when there have been many opportunities to do so during the past several years? Expanding the field of archivers that cover the financial services industry also expands the opportunity for increased LinkedIn revenue across those channels where they make money – namely – Premium subscriptions, Talent Solutions and advertising. We’ll come back to that.

The API Puzzle

The LinkedIn application programming interface (API), the manner through which archivers get entree to LinkedIn data, has always been less generous than its peers (i.e. Facebook, Google, Twitter and others). In many cases, it was difficult, if not impossible, to use the public API as an archiver ran the risk of running afoul of LinkedIn’s Developer Terms of Service. Thus providing compliance on LinkedIn accounts was often limited in scope. A cruel irony considering our industry’s use of LinkedIn versus its peers.

The partner program existed prior to 2014, it was simply limited to only a few participants, who received wider reach into the API. For those archivers who were not already participating in the partner program prior to 2014, this now expands their coverage from Profiles on LinkedIn to include InMail, Company Pages and Groups – central elements in any oversight of client correspondence, public posts and related publishing activities by financial professionals.

Reviews. Recommendations, Endorsements – Testimonials?

Most likely coincidental, this launch is in parallel with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s relaxing of the rules around third-party reviews of financial advisors, LinkedIn’s competitors in some cases. Thus advisors can claim their name (and location) on sites such as Yelp, Google Local for Business and other sites that are considered objective (not owned or controlled by the financial advisor). They can also use those reviews in advertising following specific guidelines.

While LinkedIn Recommendations seemingly remain out-of-bounds, most certainly this does create speculation if that will change in the near future. After all, not all Recommendations are solicited. This is certainly an area to watch evolve. Endorsements are another example, where they don’t quite look and feel like a testimonial, yet they sit (currently) in a gray area.

Some organizations in financial services already allow Skills Endorsements, either without limitations, or through providing a distinct roster of Skills that can be added to LinkedIn Profiles, and subsequently endorsed by Connections. This is apparent by spending some time scrolling through searches of financial advisors to validate.

The Key Indicator Driving Revenue Opportunity

What’s interesting to consider is the guidance offered under Question 2 of the SEC’s notice (page 3 of their PDF). In essence there are methods through which a financial advisor can take unedited reviews from those objective third-party sites and publish it on their own web site or social media sites (emphasis mine). Could this mean taking reviews from Yelp and showcasing them on one’s LinkedIn Profile? It’s possible.

Obviously this makes for motivation by LinkedIn to include as many known archivers to the financial services industry as possible in their program. Not only does it ramp up engaged adoption (versus just languishing static profiles operating under radio silence), which helps their monthly active user statistics. It also drives potential revenue to the those three channels where LinkedIn makes money – Premium subscriptions, Talent Solutions and advertising.

It certainly incentivizes financial professionals to upgrade to a Premium subscription to get access to expanded InMail, deeper search capabilities and more detailed analytics for their Profiles.

Moreover it certainly can be in the best interests of enterprises managing financial professionals to embrace the platform:

  • perfecting internal supervisory procedures, unlocking engagement and increasing their sales pipelines,
  • insuring their constituents look good on LinkedIn, becoming de facto brand ambassadors.

Not too mention, in knowing a much larger audience of financial professionals become visible on LinkedIn, tapping into Talent Solutions (LinkedIn’s recruiting solution) to beef up key staff and advisor acquisition initiatives.

Finally, if an enterprise is fully engaged and its brand ambassadors shine, advertising dollars may also surface in marketing budgets for use on LinkedIn. The very specific reach and filtering available in LinkedIn ads are an allure and with a company “feeling more compliant” – that exploration may begin in a more meaningful way.

Will This Change Archiver Pricing?

Beyond the testimonial watch that is ever ongoing, it will be interesting to monitor how the archivers adjust their solutions based on getting access to this expanded program from LinkedIn. For those who were in the previous partner group prior to 2014, such as Global Relay and Hearsay Social, it is business as usual as they had access to this deeper layer of data. As to the newcomers to the partner program, will their perhaps come new features or intriguing use of that LinkedIn data to drive up value? For some, most importantly, does this mean price increases across the board?



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