Social media sites are developing and evolving at ever greater speeds. Unfortunately, this means that social media is often outstripping the offline world’s ability to adapt. What may seem like an intuitive and nifty piece of functionality to a programmer can lead to a headache for those who are using social media in the real world.
LinkedIn Endorsements are a great example of a social media feature that gets mired in real-world issues. For most professionals, the Endorsements feature is a useful tool which allows third parties to attest to our Skills on our LinkedIn profiles. But for professions that are regulated and have compliance-related concerns, such as law and finance, LinkedIn Endorsements aren’t as simple. For many of the professionals in these fields, LinkedIn Endorsements constitute a testimonial in marketing, which is against the rules.
If you are in one of these fields, what can you do when you get Endorsements? First of all, hide them from your public profile to be in compliance with regulatory guidelines. This doesn’t delete them from your account, but it does hide them from your public profile.
But there’s the possibility to create friction in your relationship if someone endorses you and doesn’t understand why you’ve hidden it. When someone in your network gives you an endorsement, I suggest you send them a quick note. I received the message below from my friend, Joseph Smith, who is a financial professional based here in Evanston. I’d sent him a LinkedIn Endorsement (yes, I get the irony, I should have known better), and he sent this as a follow up:
“I greatly appreciate your LinkedIn endorsement. The current state of financial regulations prohibits testimonials on social media sites and LinkedIn Endorsements that are considered testimonials. The spirit of these regulations is to prohibit comments about the conduct or performance of an adviser that might be misleading or fraudulant. I know that you are being sincere, but unfortunately, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil it for everyone.
I am permitted to have your endorsement on LinkedIn as long as it is hidden from view on my public profile. When and if the regulations are changed I can quickly unhide it. It’s frustrating for those of us in the industry, but hopefully regulations will quickly catch up to the changes in social media. A recent article in Reuters discusses this matter in more detail.
Thank you again for your endorsement, I appreciate your positive feedback!
Using this note helps maintain your offline relationship by acknowledging the positive endorsement, but keeps you in compliance of current regulations. The rules are constantly evolving, and social media’s development is putting a lot of pressure on regulatory bodies to keep up. In the meantime, continue to use the other features available on LinkedIn to build your network and the relationships with those already in your network.