New LinkedIn tool could help advisers with marketing, compliance

Function allows exporting of first-degree connections, endorsements, comments made in groups and other LinkedIn content

Oct 23, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

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(Bloomberg News)

A tool recently introduced by the online professional network LinkedIn could help investment advisers and brokers with both marketing and compliance.

LinkedIn has made it possible for users to download an archive of their data with one click. Information that is exported includes a list of first-degree connections, endorsements, comments made in LinkedIn groups and other content that has been posted in the system.

The site installed the tool primarily as a way for users to manage their safety and privacy. Now other uses for the data are being explored by experts.

In a blog post on Oct. 22, Viveka von Rosen, author of “LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day,” explained that businesses can use the data to improve their marketing. For instance, endorsements and comments can be reviewed for business leads.

“I encourage you to take the time to export your information,” Ms. Von Rosen wrote. “Go through each file and come up with some new tactics for reaching current and potential customers more effectively.”

Investment advisers and brokers will find the tool helpful because it allows them to review their LinkedIn activity over extended periods, said Crystal Thies, author of “The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisers,” who is known as the LinkedIn Ninja.

LinkedIn status updates disappear after two weeks. Posts on the site's groups also can be hard to track if an adviser is involved with several of them.

“It's one fail safe for being reminded of what may have fallen through the cracks as far as marketing or prospecting opportunities,” Ms. Thies said.

When a user's number of connections exceeds 500, the site can become unwieldy. The new data-management tool will enable advisers to gather all of their LinkedIn contacts and import them as a database into a customer relationship management program, said Stephanie Sammons, chief executive of Wired Advisor, a digital strategy firm for financial advisers.

“I view it more as an intelligence tool,” Ms. Sammons said. “You're able to make sense of your network, identify your most valuable contacts and develop a strategy to build influence with them.”

Exporting LinkedIn data can help advisers create more sophisticated business development strategies, said Amy McIlwain, president of Financial Social Media. Their efforts will be enhanced if they can persuade clients, friends and family to give them their LinkedIn data, too.

“This is going to allow you to target people more accurately for social advertising campaigns,” Ms. McIlwain said. She added that advisers can upload their LinkedIn connections to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

It also could help advisers monitor their social media activity for regulatory purposes.

“From a compliance standpoint, it's really a nice tool to have,” Ms. Thies said.

For brokers at big firms, it's a way to track their own LinkedIn activity — the firm compiles aggregate data about the whole staff. For advisers in smaller firms, it could be an alternative to hiring an outside compliance vendor, Ms. Thies said.

She cautioned, however, that using the LinkedIn data downloads for manual compliance would be labor intensive.

“It's going to be a big time commitment to use this as your own archiving tool, but it can be done,” Ms. Thies said.

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