Social Media: Ask Yourself the Right Questions!Social Media: Ask Yourself the Right Questions!http://chad.ca/en/members/professional-practice/toolbox/medias-sociaux/542/social-media-ask-yourself-the-right-questionsMédias sociaux : posez-vous les bonnes questions!

​In 2017, 67% of adults in Quebec had an active account on one or more social media platforms, while approximately 50% of Quebeckers logged in to their Facebook account at least once a day. Canada-wide, every day, people spend on average almost six hours on the Internet and close to two hours on social media, across all devices. World statistics are enough to make your head spin (see box below). The pervasiveness of social media in consumers’ lives has been extensively documented. But what about their professional use?

​According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Journal de l’assurance [available in French only], the damage insurance industry is increasingly active on social media. After all, social media is helpful in creating customer loyalty and attracting new customers and it even helps with staff recruitment. It can also be used to monitor one’s reputation, create business relationships and participate actively in the community. Social media offers many opportunities, but it also hides many pitfalls. The fact remains: as a damage insurance or claims adjustment professional, you may one day want to use these tools in your professional practice. Perhaps you already do.

​On social media, it is essential to always act professionally and respect your code of ethics. If you have the slightest doubt about sharing certain content or interacting on social media, the first thing to do is contact your firm’s compliance manager. Sometimes, simply asking yourself certain questions will enable you to take a step back and thus always respect your professional boundaries. Here are a few examples of questions you should ask yourself when using social media.


Do I know the source of this information and is it reliable?

​Everyone—even the most informed among us—will occasionally spread false information. In December 2017, the TVA network had to apologize for a news report that was actually fake news. Before sharing an article, a photo or a video on social media, try to find the original source to confirm its reliability. Also verify if other media sources or specialists in the field are talking about it and what they are saying. When in doubt, it is best not to post content if you cannot guarantee its veracity.

​In addition, take time to read the article or watch the video in full. Two studies conducted in 2016 show that many Internet users merely read the headline before sharing or commenting on articles appearing on social media. For example, in June 2016, the Science Post published an article entitled “70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.” Although it was shared 46,000 times, the story was a hoax: aside from the headline and the first paragraph, which contained two sentences that were repeated, the article was made up of “lorem ipsum,” or placeholder text, a scrambled Latin text often used by graphic designers. Numerous Internet users had thus just demonstrated that they themselves were amongst the Facebook users criticized in the title of the fake article for sharing news without actually reading the text. The other study—conducted on Twitter—showed that almost six in ten links are never actually read by those who repost them.1 If you have posted content that has turned out to be untrue, do not hesitate to admit your mistake and correct it.


Is this content relevant and necessary?

​Using social media is a compelling way to let others know about your expertise on a given topic or to share your knowledge in a specific field. In the space of a single minute on the Internet, 452,000 messages are posted on Twitter, 156,000 million e-mails are sent, and 900,000 people log in to Facebook. Competition for Internet users’ attention is fierce. Strategically speaking, posting relevant content is the best approach. Is the content that you are about to post related to your profession, and is it useful and interesting to your readers? Will this content allow them to better understand your role and your responsibilities towards them? Choose content that has high added value.

​Would I write or publish this content if I knew that it could never be erased and would always remain public? According to the Quebec Bar Association’s website, vousavezdroit.ca, over a quarter of Canadians (27%) who make comments on-line do not believe they are legally responsible for their words. However, an employer can penalize an employee who makes comments on social media that could harm the company or its members. Do not share defamatory or offensive content, or content that could tarnish your reputation or that of your employer.

​Above and beyond the obligation to not damage someone’s reputation, ask yourself if you really should post this information on social media. Could the photos that you would like to post on your professional Facebook page be misinterpreted? Could the article be picked up by a major media outlet without causing you any harm? What impression would it leave regarding your professionalism?

​The bottom line is that on the Internet, nothing is private—even if you are told otherwise—and content can never completely disappear. Information posted on-line can be shared, archived or downloaded and then reappear and circulate without the original author having any control over it. If what you are about to post or share risks damaging your reputation or your business relationships, it is much wiser to not do so.


Can this information be disseminated publicly?

​Confidential or personal information must remain as such. In your professional life, you have access to a great deal of information on your clients and your employer. You must protect this information. Do not forget that the simple act of sharing content on the Internet leaves traces on servers that you do not control and whose confidentiality you cannot guarantee.

Would I make the same comments or would I answer this person in the same way if we were talking face-to-face or on the phone?

​In the spring of 2018, a Quebec doctor was struck off the membership roll of his professional order for making sexual advances towards one of his patients on Facebook. Of course, there is no need to go that far before questioning the appropriateness of your comments. As a professional, you must show restraint both in your words and your acts, and in what you write on social media.2 Furthermore, do not do things on the Internet that you would not do if the client were sitting across from you or on the phone.


Communication Tools that Must Be Used with Caution

​Social media is very helpful to professionals. However, in order to use it properly, you must be aware of the risks. Download the ChAD’s Tip Sheet on Using Social Media in Your Professional Practice. It contains 10 tips that will help you to use social media properly and safely.


Social Media Statistics (around the world) - active users per month:

  • Facebook – 2,1 billion  
  • YouTube – 1,5 billion  
  • Instagram – 800 million 
  • Twitter – 330 million 
  • Pinterest – 200 million 
  • Snapchat – 178 million 
  • LinkedIn – 115 million 

Source : https://www.blogdumoderateur.com/50-chiffres-medias-sociaux-2018/ [in French only]

Download the Tip Sheet on Using Social Media in Your Professional Practice..


1. Maksym Gabielkov, Arthi Ramachandran, Augustin Chaintreau and Arnaud Legout. Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter? ACM SIGMETRICS / IFIP Performance 2016, June 2016, Antibes Juan-les-Pins, France. 2016. [on-line]
2. Code of ethics of damage insurance representatives, section 14; Code of ethics of claims adjusters, section 15.

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