LinkedIn can be a great marketing tool for financial advisors to promote their business, research prospects, connect with centers of influence (COIs) and ask for referrals. Because LinkedIn has so much potential, employers often want their employees to use their personal accounts to promote the business. While this may sound like a great idea on the surface, employers need to tread carefully, as 21 states have passed legislation banning employer access to workers’ social media accounts.
According to Nolo.com, state laws generally prohibit one or more of the following:
- Asking applicants or employees to bring up their social media accounts in the employer’s presence
- Requiring employees to accept “friend” or other linking requests from coworkers, managers and supervisors
- Requiring applicants or employees to change the privacy settings on their social media accounts
- Asking employees to advertise the company’s products or services on their own social media pages
Even if you do not conduct business in one of the states that have enacted social media legislation, the tide is moving in that direction and it makes sense to assume that you will have to follow these policies in the near future.
While you need to obey your state’s legal requirements, it is also important to ensure that your employees, especially those who are client facing, are accurately representing your company’s brand on social media. To satisfy both of these goals, you should establish and document LinkedIn profile recommendations to give to your employees to implement on their own if they choose.
Here are a few points to consider when establishing your recommendations:
- Do you have a branded background photo you would like to use?
- Do you have specific company headshots you would like to use?
- Do you have a desired format for the headline?
- Is there a specific way you want your company to be described in the summary and experience sections?
- Do you have videos, images or brochures that you would like your employees to include in the summary section of their profile?
- Do you have a LinkedIn company page that you want them to link to?
When you provide this information to your employees, let them know these are just suggestions and they are under no obligation to implement them. You’ll also want to remind them that if they are intending to use LinkedIn for marketing purposes, they are required to have their profile archived per FINRA and SEC requirements, which may require them to provide their login information.
Influencing an employee’s LinkedIn profile without violating labor laws can be tricky. Providing your employees with suggestions is one way to circumvent this issue. More often than not, your employees will accept the suggestions since you are making it easy to implement the recommendations by removing the time and effort it would take for your employees to figure out what to write on their own. So at the end of the day, you ensure that your brand is accurately represented while respecting your employees’ rights to maintain control and privacy over their accounts.
1. Lisa Guerin, J.D., “Can Employers Ask for Passwords to My Social Media Accounts?” Nolo.com, www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/can-employers-ask-passwords-my-social-media-accounts.html.