So your agency has decided that a social media archiving tool is worth the investment. Great! Where do you start? Not all archiving solutions are created equal, so it’s important that you do your research and due diligence when choosing the best solution for your agency. Some archiving solutions may start as a good plan, but end up taking valuable hours to maintain and upkeep. Others may look like a viable solution upfront, but leave serious security risks or don’t capture every record. When shopping for an archive solution, it is important to keep two things in mind: efficiency of use and comprehensiveness of records saved. 

Finding Efficiency in a Social Media Archiving Software

Have you ever downloaded software only to delete it only a few minutes later because you realized it doesn’t work like you wanted? That can be frustrating when you paid for the software yourself. However, it can have larger repercussions if taxpayer money paid for the software. It’s important to examine exactly what you are looking for in a social media archiving solution. The most basic starting point? It needs to work well. 

Do you know the most popular way public agencies are currently saving their social media records? Screenshots. While your creepy ex seems to have saved every awkward post you ever made, for most agencies, capturing every post, every comment, and every thread before it’s deleted is a nearly impossible task. A feat only achieved through a massive team monitoring your social media 24/7 or sleep deprivation.

Then comes the fun task of having to actually locate certain posts or comments if a social media records request is made. 

Archiving software should make it easy to search the archive and export your records. It shouldn’t be another hassle. As the ad goes, they are your records, get them when you need them! 

So when you are examining the efficiency of your archiving options, consider asking the following questions:

  1. How can I search my archive? 
  2. Is there an alert system I can use? 
  3. What formats can I use when exporting? 
  4. How can you ensure record authenticity?

Lastly, ask “who do I call if I need help”? Because when you are dealing with public records, you want to make sure you have all the resources you need and a team on your side who can jump in and help.

An Archiving Solution Needs to Be Comprehensive & Do its Job

The most important feature in an archiving tool is doing exactly what it claims; actually archiving every post and comment. This also includes deleted comments. 

The exact retention laws and guidelines for government agencies and school districts can differ from state to state. More on that here. There is one common thread, posts and comments on social media can qualify as public records. The tool you use should reliably save both – and in their true format. Some archiving tools on the market will scrape data from the social media site instead of using an API. This is just a technical way of saying that they only get the posts and comments in secondary form and they miss all the metadata code below – such as the time and date of the post. Which, can lead to problems if you ever need to prove the authenticity of the record. I mean did you really eat a cupcake if you only had the icing? And after reacting through all the comments the day that the new budget was released, you deserve a cupcake. 

So when you are examining the comprehensiveness of your archiving options, consider asking these questions:

  1. Does your software capture metadata?
  2. How quickly does the software pick-up changes to your post? 
  3. Can your archiving tool capture historical data, so you don’t have to worry about posts and comments before buying the product? 
  4. Is there a way to sample the archive before buying? 

The Bottomline

Whether your organization represents a small community or a huge city, retaining your social media records protects both your agency and your community members. So when examining your options for a social media archiving tool, make sure to ask questions and put the system to the test before signing up for anything. Getting answers to these questions will ensure your agency is covered in an event of a FOIA or public records request. Want to see what an ArchiveSocial archive would look like? Get a sample your archive here.