11 Sep LinkedIn Data Ruling. Could this be the beginning of a new era?
As digital marketers, we accept that some things are consistent. Clients will change their mind just as you have finished the piece of work; asking people what they think of your brand on Twitter will never end well, and that you will never be able to pull LinkedIn data or analytics onto a third-party website.
The Microsoft-owned professional social media platform is about as willing to share it’s user data and insights as Jacob Rees-Mogg is to send the EU a Christmas card. It’s just not going to happen, or so we thought (the LinkedIn thing, not the Christmas card thing).
Recently, a ruling in the US courts could potentially have set a precedent that could lead to LinkedIn data liberation.
A San Francisco start-up called hiQ Labs collects data from LinkedIn users to analyse trends about when people are likely to change jobs, where there may be future skill shortages.
You can imagine insights like this could be invaluable to companies of every ilk. The hordes of recruiters that lurk on LinkedIn would unquestionably pay for such information to proactively begin their vulturish practices earlier.
Given that they guard their data like a certain Lord Of The Rings character protected it’s ‘precious,’ LinkedIn did not take particularly kindly to hiQ Labs pilfering and profiting their insights and promptly blocked them.
It’s significantly more challenging to gather data insights when you’re barred from collecting data. hiQ responded by submitting and subsequently winning an injunction to get themselves unblocked. This injunction was recently upheld by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in a unanimous decision.
The Judge ruled that LinkedIn users themselves owned user data:
“There is little evidence that LinkedIn users who choose to make their profiles public actually maintain an expectation of privacy with respect to the information that they post publicly, and it is doubtful that they do,”
Someone’s LinkedIn profile is readily accessible, depending on their privacy settings. You can view a profile without that user’s express permission. This data was not, therefore, being hacked as LinkedIn has claimed, but rather scraped from a publically available source.
The ruling is an intriguing case in isolation. For social media marketers, it could have far-reaching ramifications. If one business is legally allowed to scrape data from LinkedIn, could others follow?
Several social media tools build up CRM databases of users that have engaged with their brand (or clients) across social media to establish warm leads, brand advocates or influencers. Many platforms can amalgamate this data to identify users that engage with content across Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. LinkedIn has thus far remained apart from this group, jealously guarding its secrets.
Could this ruling give the green light to companies to start scraping data and including it in analytics reports? The inclusion of LinkedIn data could be incredibly useful to gain insights into the professions and companies that are engaging with your posts.
Such insights could shape future campaigns and dictate entire marketing strategies and targeting.
Also, having the ability to create bespoke analytic reports quickly and efficiently would make providing feedback to clients a lot more straightforward for agencies.
In a post-GDPR world, it seems strange to be celebrating a company winning access to our data, but in terms of making social media marketing more effective, this could potentially be the start of LinkedIn data liberation.