The staff or employees and colleagues, play a large role in the work towards achieving success on LinkedIn. However, it can lead to a number of uncertainties, thoughts and new challenges.
In this article, we go through a series of challenges many businesses face when LinkedIn is integrated into every day practice. IT- lawyer Heidi Steen Jensen from Horten gives us her legal input on Danish Law.
Can an organisation require its staff to update their profile?
We have come across several examples of employees not updating their personal profiles, where it e.g. states that they are working for an entirely different company than the one they are actually in. This can be inconvenient or perhaps awkward if LinkedIn is used regularly within a company,but especially in situations where particular employees have been assigned as contact persons for a particular product.
We usually say that you can go a long way by raising the level of knowledge and awareness within the company, by encouraging the staff.
Lawyer Heidi Steen Jensen addresses this challenge:
“If it can lead to confusion among customer groups, I would consider making it a requirement for employees to update their profiles. You can achieve a lot by informing employees of this in connection with their contract of employment, and I would recommend making it a part of staff policy that LinkedIn profiles be kept up-to-date with correct title and employer.”
Should employees share content?
Employees are a business’ best ambassadors. They are 70% more likely to share company content and are therefore an invaluable factor in creating an increased awareness and reaching a broader audience with media such as LinkedIn. Each time a person shares, likes or comments on a LinkedIn update, this activity is spread in newsfeeds among all of his or her LinkedIn contacts.
But can we realistically expect everyone to want to share the company’s news? No, it would be quite difficult for a firm to require its staff to share its news amongst their personal network. But again, you can go a LONG WAY with encouragement. And most important in this process is that everyone knows the purpose of the company’s presence. If everyone knows the goal of the effort and value of enriching their personal network, then most would be happy to share their company’s updates.
All is well when the company has mastered enrichment over pure sales and marketing.
Who owns groups and pages?
LinkedIn groups are created with a personal profile – and they are also administered this way. This can be a challenge when a colleague changes job or workplace. What happens to the group they created for the company? We have occasionally experienced that an employee does not wish to transfer ownership of a group, particularly when they have felt that it was “their personal” project.
This can be avoided by having a clear policy in place and perhaps including a line or two in their contract regarding this. Also remember that if the company’s name and logo are used, then LinkedIn (or Facebook etc.) can be helpful in changing the ownership of a group or page for the company in question.
Always remember to have multiple administrators for a LinkedIn page. In this way, it will always be easier to make changes or delete former colleagues.
Tip: Do a regular monthly or quarterly review of everyone who administers the diverse social media presences for your company, thus ensuring that only the relevant people have access.
Who owns contacts made on LinkedIn?
This is usually an issue amongst sales people. Imagine that a sales executive who has built up a large network on LinkedIn with the company’s clients leaves their position for one with the competitors. This scenario can frighten even the most seasoned employer.
Here we need to remember that Danish laws are technology-neutral – in other words, it is as wrong to take one’s clients from LinkedIn as it would be to take client files from one company to another. Nevertheless, there will still remain some who believe that it is indeed “their own network”. With an internal policy in this area, as well as the knowledge on how one works with LinkedIn in your firm, you can again go a long way.
Heidi Steen Jensen says: “In connection with resignation, it should be made clear to employees, in writing, how far they may go in relation to contacting clients and other working partners from the company they are leaving. This is separately regulated under the Marketing Act, and can also be adjusted by customer and competition clauses in each employee’s contract of employment. However, be aware that there may be restrictions in terms of what can be agreed.”
If your activities are outside Denmark, consider the challenges mentioned above and check up on local law.
Who takes responsibility if an employee gives incorrect advice in a group?
Some companies openly encourage their employees to be active in LinkedIn groups. This can be a great way to increase awareness about the company’s competences and perhaps finding new leads and customers. However, it is not a seamless activity. What happens in a situation where an employee gives incorrect advice to a potential client in a LinkedIn group during work hours?
”In Denmark., the firm could potentially have to take responsibility for incorrect advice given in LinkedIn groups. It is important that employees are clear about this, and that it is the company’s internal policy and guidelines that say how far one can go in LinkedIn groups. Some consideration should also be given to creating a “disclaimer” in the group. It should, however, not be overlooked that an employee should not express something in a LinkedIn group that they would not express in other forums.” comments Heidi Steen Jensen.
Regardless of the legal aspect, an injured client can be difficult to “turn” after a negative experience. And who else might have read the “bad advice”? As a business it is therefore essential to give consideration to which people express themselves, and on what topics, on social media. Those that do should know the business’ purpose for using media, know the desired tone, know his or her rights as well as having excellent communication skills – also in writing.