Rebecca Aston highlights CII guidance on using social media professionally and safely
For professionals, using social media can prove to be challenging. On the one hand, it is a fantastic resource for promoting your business, engaging with clients, making connections and staying up to date with important topics. On the other, social media represents the merging of our personal and professional selves, meaning things can quickly and easily be taken out of context.
Kathryn Knowles, managing director at Cura Financial Services, says: “It is easy to read a ‘tweet’ in an aggressive tone, or write something in all innocence that is seen in a completely different context to what you intended. This can lead to anger and toing and froing with point scoring, sometimes boiling over into insults or more.
“It is not nice when this happens, for anyone that is involved. It can change people’s perception of you and can potentially affect your professional image and, in more extreme cases, your current and future work opportunities.”
To help Chartered financial planners, the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has published guidance, titled Using Social Media Professionally and Safely. The guide sets out what social media is, acknowledges some of the concerns about social media such as safety and privacy issues, informs members of the consequences of poor social media interaction and provides tips related to using social media effectively and safely. For example, the guidance recommends when posting, you should ask yourself:
- Is my post constructive or relevant?
- Could my words cause harm or offence?
- Could my post be misinterpreted?
- Is there a better way to get my point across?
A good rule of thumb is to remember that your behaviour online should reflect the same professional values that are important to you offline.
How would you approach the same discussion if you were chatting around a dinner table with your friends or family? If your colleagues or clients could read what you were saying, what would they think? Would you feel comfortable saying the same thing to someone’s face – even if they are a stranger?
Another helpful question to reflect on is whether or not what you are posting is in line with what is expected of you as a professional and CII member. While not expressly drafted to reflect the digital world, the core duties of the CII Code of Ethics are basic ethical tenets that are applicable no matter what the context. For example, the requirement to “act with the highest ethical standards and integrity” includes but is not limited to:
- Being reliable, dependable and respectful.
- Not bringing the financial services profession or the CII into disrepute whether through your actions in work or outside work.
Furthermore, core duty five of the CII Code of Ethics is all about treating people fairly and includes but is not limited to:
- Challenging and reporting unlawful or otherwise unfair discriminatory behaviour and practice.
- Always acting openly and fairly, as well as treating employers, employees, colleagues, clients, potential clients and suppliers with equal respect and opportunity.
- This is especially relevant when using social media, as members should bear in mind the need to be respectful and avoid any language that could be considered discriminatory – even when using a personal social media account or when posting outside of working hours.
To read the guide, visit: www.cii.co.uk/101419
Rebecca Aston is professional standards manager of the CII