Management strategies for social media information February 28, 2014

TwitterThere are a range of information management strategies you can apply to your social systems, based on your specific business needs and risks.

The strategy you choose needs to be based on an analysis and understanding of business needs and risks. You may need to choose different information management strategies for each of the different social media channels used, depending on the different levels of traffic, risk and discussion within these channels.

Any information management strategy you choose should be regularly reviewed, as your organisation’s use of social media may move from a fairly passive use to active and engaged. Once social media channels become widely accepted for business communication and engagement in your organisation, it is likely there will be a greater need for effective management of the information generated.

Strategies to choose between are:

  1. Leave the information where is it strategy
  2. Low level information management strategy
  3. Monitoring-based information management strategy
  4. Needs-based information management strategy
  5. Reporting as an information management strategy
  6. Information for reuse strategy
  7. Information management for accountability strategy
  8. Information management through broadcast systems strategy

 

1. Leave the information where is it strategy

What this means

You choose not to capture and keep information of your social media business operations in internal systems, choosing instead to leave your business information in its native social media application.

For example: You do not export any tweets out of Twitter. Instead you choose to leave all tweets, retweets, mentions etc in your Twitter account.

It is important to note that you cannot choose a default ‘leave the information where it is’ strategy, it must be a specific risk-based decision.

Why would I choose this?

You would choose this strategy if you believe there is no long term value business information in your social media application, and your business areas will not require ongoing access to this information. You would also need to ensure that all staff who require access to this information are able to gain access to it through the social media system.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective?

This strategy:

Does not guarantee ongoing accessibility of business information:

  • Many social media service contracts give providers the right to permanently remove content at any time, without recourse. Therefore using this strategy, there are no guarantees that social media-based information will remain accessible.

Could result in unacceptable risks

  • If business, reporting or legal requirements mean that you will need to access your social media information for 2 or more years, it may be an unacceptable risk to rely on social media applications to maintain this information for you.

Needs to be deployed following specific risk-based decisions

  • In many scenarios it may be that a ‘leave the information where it is’ strategy may be an appropriate business choice for you, but you do need to assess and accept all associated risks before making this choice.

Case study: State Records uses the ‘leave the information where it is’ strategy for some of its social media accounts

State Records NSW runs a Facebook page for its Future Proof strategy. This Facebook page duplicates the information posted to the @FutureProofNSW Twitter account. No information is posted specifically and uniquely on Facebook.

Strategies are in place to capture and keep information about Twitter activity.

A very limited number of comments are received on the Future Proof Facebook page. An RSS feed has been set up which enables these comments to be sent as emails to a defined account and these are captured into the corporate records management system.

Therefore:

  • the information on Facebook is generally duplicated elsewhere
  • the information does not need to be kept long term
  • the Future Proof Twitter and email accounts already have defined information management strategies
  • the organisation is prepared to accept the risk that Facebook makes no guarantees of the long term accessibility of the information it hosts

The decision has consequently been made that the Future Proof Facebook page does not need a defined information management strategy.

 

2. Low level information management strategy

What this means

You capture regular, scheduled downloads of your social media information using freely available online tools.

 Why would I choose this?

You would choose this strategy if you wanted to keep simple yet comprehensive information about of your social media transactions.

Available tools are also online, easy to use and frequently free or available at a very low cost.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective

This strategy:

Requires scheduling:

  • This strategy requires someone to perform regular downloads of social media content and to capture this information into an appropriate storage location. If this is not performed, the risk is irregular, non-systematic information management.

Generates standard data dumps:

  • This strategy creates data dumps in standard formats which may require additional processing in order to be reused for other business purposes.

Results in data duplication

  • Online tools that can generate these downloads are often designed as data backup tools. They will generally download all data in your social media account, and will not necessarily enable you to specify that you only want data from a specific time period. This can lead to duplication in your social media information, particularly for active accounts.

What tools can be used to do this?

Many tools including:

  • Cloud-based backup systems like Backupify
  • Social media monitoring or dashboard tools
  • Reporting tools that come with social media applications, such as Facebook Activity Logs
  • Analytic tools, such as Google Analytics or blog software analytics

Please contact State Records if you want to recommend other tools for this list.

 

3. Monitoring based information strategy

What this means

You use a social media monitoring tool to capture information about your social media conversations as well as reactions to this engagement.

Why would I choose this?

Monitoring tools can capture both social conversations and also reactions to your conversations and operations. As such they can provide both information and business intelligence about your social engagement.

Case study: Many NSW government organisations use monitoring tools

Government organisations are using monitoring tools and exporting information out of these tools to use for business and information management purposes.

For example, some organisations are using monitoring tools to:

  • identify all tweets that mention the organisation or its products and services, in order to monitor public opinion of the organisation or reaction to its services
  • track the organisation’s own tweets and any responses to these
  • track the rise and fall in followers, likes or retweets
  • compile broad metrics to assess the impact of their social engagement.

The benefit of using these systems for information management purposes is that they overlay social media information with business intelligence. They are valuable for business reporting and can therefore serve multiple business purpose rather than just a specific information management objective.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective?

This strategy:

May be hampered by a lack of export capacity in some tools:

  • Risks may arise if the monitoring tool you are using is unable to export or fully export data into your corporate business systems.

May be hampered because some tools export data in limited formats:

  • Some systems may only export information in formats designed to support machine processing, such as CSV, rather than formats that support information dissemination or business use and reference.

Can be costly because monitoring tools can be expensive

  • Some monitoring tools can require a more significant financial investment than other, simpler strategies.

What tools can be used to do this?

  • Social media monitoring or dashboard tools
  • Reporting tools that come with social media applications, such as Facebook Activity Logs
  • Analytic tools, such as Google Analytics or blog software analytics

Please contact State Records if you want to recommend other tools for this list.

 

4. Needs based information strategy

What this means

You deploy information management strategies as specific needs arise.

Why would I choose this?

You would deploy a needs-based strategy if most of your social media traffic was very low risk conversations. However, if a specific issue arose or if you wished to consult on a particular project, you could deploy an information management strategy to capture these specific conversations.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective?

This strategy:

Requires ownership and management:

  • If no one takes ownership of information management when it is required, the risk is a strategy will not be deployed to support higher risk conversations.

Requires active awareness and engagement

  • This strategy requires an active understanding of your social systems and an awareness of when more high risk transactions and conversations are taking place, and an understanding of what information management strategy should be deployed to support these.

Case study: Using needs-based information management as a strategy when things go wrong

On its Facebook page, an organisation posted details of a community event it was running in a regional area. For the next several days there was a large negative reaction to this event and many negative comments were made on the Facebook page. The organisation ultimately managed to diffuse and deal with this reaction but they used screenshots to capture their initial post and all subsequent responses to it.

This information management was to:

  • compile reports to management on the significant public reaction
  • provide intelligence and lessons learned for future event planning and communications
  • protect the organisation against any defamation or legal action that could possibly have resulted

Case study: Waikato District Health Board

In New Zealand, the Waikato District Health Board mounted a specific social media campaign to contain the spread of a measles outbreak.

Their social media campaign contributed to the successful management of the outbreak, and capturing information about their social media communications and all positive and negative responses to them could provide useful business intelligence for the management of future outbreaks.

What tools can be used to do this?

  • Cloud-based back up systems like Backupify
  • Cloud-based information services such as Social Safe and Archive Social
  • Social media monitoring or dashboard tools
  • General third party, cloud-based reporting tools like Storify
  • RSS feed
  • Screenshots

Please contact State Records if you want to recommend other tools for this list.

 

5. Reporting as an information management strategy

What this means

Documents compiled to report on social media campaigns and strategies are maintained as information about these campaigns and strategies.

Why would I choose this

If you need to compile regular reports to assess the performance of your social media strategy against identified benchmarks, then good information that summarises social media operations is already being created. Managing this can provide good ongoing information about your strategy.

This strategy is particularly effective for campaign-based social media use as it provides regular information that can help focus messages, respond to feedback and improve performance, while also providing an ongoing record of social media operations.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective?

This strategy:

Needs to be reassessed if social media becomes normalised:

  • Regular reporting on social media strategies may only take place for a specific period of time. If social strategies become business as usual processes and continue to operate beyond identified reporting periods, new strategies may be required to capture any required business information.

Creates high level, not operational information:

  • Reports generally capture high level information about communications and metrics. If more detailed information about specific social media transactions is required by operational staff, other forms of information may be required to support these business needs.

Case study: Reporting on consultation strategies

The following case study comes from the New Zealand Government Social Media in Government Toolbox:

To help us with reporting on our ‘Making Tax Easier’ online consultation, our web team showed us how to access the comprehensive and free details about the traffic on our site on Google Analytics.

This helped enormously when our senior management team asked for regular progress updates during the 6-week period the consultation was open for public submission. This was both the keep them up-to-date with the comments that were being received so they could advise the Minister of progress.

We combined key statistics from Google Analytics with an overview of the comments posted on the forum, highlighting trends and key issues, into a simple two page weekly report.

Weekly reporting also gave us the opportunity to reflect as a team, and to think about deploying further marketing strategies when the numbers of new visitors started falling.

Brent Lewers, Senior Policy Analyst Inland Revenue (New Zealand Government Controller and Auditor-General, Learning from public entities’ use of social media, June 2013)

 

6. Information for reuse strategy

What this means

You capture information from your social systems in order to reuse this information for future business purposes.

Why would I choose this?

You would adopt information for reuse if you are performing lots of transactions on your social sites and there is the potential for cost, time and performance efficiencies through the effective reuse of the information generated through these transactions.

The information for reuse strategy involves capturing information about advice provided on social systems in a spreadsheet, database or other searchable and accessible environment.

When similar advice is required in the future it does not have to be redeveloped but can be copied and reposted as required.

This provides benefits through the provision of consistent advice and can also assist if many different staff across your organisation are providing customer service through your social channels.

You would not choose this strategy if you needed specific evidence or accountabilities around each specific instance of advice provided. If you need clear accountabilities and evidence of specific instances of advice, you require a ‘information management for accountability’ strategy (see below). With the information for reuse strategy, you are just reusing good advice for efficiency and consistency.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective?

This strategy:

Must be fit for purpose:

  • If reuse strategies are not well designed and fit for purpose, there is the potential that information reuse may not be efficient or result in time or cost savings. Appropriate assessments need to be made to identify what information should be captured to enable easy and effective search and retrieval.

Does not provide evidential or accountability:

  • This strategy creates reusable information, not evidence and accountabilities for high risk business areas. If evidence and accountabilities are required, use the ‘information management for accountability’ strategy below.

Must be supported by all relevant staff:

  • If all necessary staff are not engaged in capturing relevant information, comprehensive information will not be available for reuse. Tools used need to be accessible to and updatable by all relevant staff.

Must be supported by clear guidelines:

  • Staff need clear advice about what information they need to capture into these tools and how they can reuse the data in the tools. Advice about common keywords or terms to use to aid information retrieval can help to ensure information is accessible.

Case studies: Efficiencies achieved by information for reuse strategy

One government organisation runs a large spreadsheet where customer service staff record the questions that clients ask on their corporate Facebook page and the answers staff post. Now, before responding to the majority of questions, staff perform a quick search of the spreadsheet and can frequently reuse advice previously provided.

What tools can be used to do this?

  • Purpose-built databases or spreadsheets are commonly used for this purpose.

Please contact State Records if you want to recommend specific tools for this list.

 

7. Information management for accountability strategy

What this means

You deploy a rigorous management approach to all your social media activities. You capture full and accurate records of all your social media business.

Why would I choose this?

You would choose this approach if:

  • high risk business operations are moving to social systems
  • you have long term business and community accountabilities in these business areas
  • you need clear accountability and evidence of advice provided via social media and of your social media transactions
  • your organisation has a high risk profile and needs to be able to fully account for its public statements and operations

In all of these scenarios, a rigorous information management strategy will ensure strong evidence of your social media operations is accessible, accountable and useable for as long as you require it.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective?

This strategy:

Can be expensive to implement effectively:

  • Purpose built software tools can be expensive to design, configure and deploy but this cost could be justified in key strategic circumstances

Is a maximalist approach:

  • This is a comprehensive strategy that will capture a lot of transactional information, but this may be warranted in high risk business areas or for key social strategies

Requires good configuration and management:

  • Because of the volume of information that potentially will be captured, systems used for the information as accountability strategy need to be well designed and configured, to help apply business appropriate management rules to the social information generated.

Case study: Accountabilities don’t change in social environments and so rigorous information management may be required

A large government department operates in a high risk, complex, litigious business environment with lots of stakeholders and lots of necessary community consultation.

To broaden the reach of their communications, they have moved most of this consultation to social media. As a business and communication strategy, this is a sensible approach but as part of this approach, information governance and information management needs must also be considered.

Given the contentious and long term implications of their business processes and decisions, the legal rules that apply to their business mean that they have to keep the records of their public consultation for many years. These legislative requirements do not change because business processes have moved to social systems.

What tools can be used to do this?

  • Purpose built social media information management systems, available from a variety of vendors have the capacity for this management. Another advantage of comprehensive and purpose built systems is their capacity to capture, manage and leverage much of the native metadata attached to social media communications. Leveraging this metadata in these systems allows social media content to be navigated, authenticated, managed and used.

Please contact State Records if you want to recommend other tools for this list.

 

8. Information management through broadcast systems

What this means

Some large organisations, such as those involved in emergency management, need to be able to communicate mass broadcasts in emergency situations and communicate these messages through multiple delivery channels.

Case study: Emergency fire communications

Fire and Rescue NSW’s Bush Fire alert system can be programmed to issue emergency bulletins. In January 2013 on a day of extreme fire danger, the system broadcast 40 emergency alerts through social media and 784,000 SMS and 224,000 fixed line messages in fire forecast areas.

Why would I choose this?

These systems would be adopted by your organisation if it has business needs for large or pre-programmed communication.

What are the risks of this approach from an information management perspective?

This strategy:

Does not guarantee ongoing information accessibility:

  • In terms of information management, there are no guarantees that the information maintained in the broadcast system will remain accessible for long periods of time.

Requires a strategic understanding of information needs:

  • The majority of information in these systems will generally be secure for the life of the system, but if the system is upgraded, replaced or decommissioned, you will need to determine if any information in the system needs to be kept for ongoing business or legal purposes.

May require export capacity to ensure ongoing accessibility of long term value business information:

  • If communications generated by the system need to be kept for long periods of time or if they need to be presented in court cases, these may need to be exported out of the broadcast system and managed elsewhere for as long as they are required.For high value information, it may be easier to export this regularly after an emergency event out of the system and store it in a central business system, rather than determine at system decommissioning what information requires export for ongoing support and management.If it is likely that this information will be needed in legal cases, governance around any information export and system decommissioning processes should be rigorous and clearly demonstrate the comprehensiveness and accuracy of these processes.

 

What information management strategy should we use?

 

You need to base your information management strategies on what your specific business needs are.

We are broadcasting standard marketing messages to our clients and user community

If these communications are routine and you have no business needs to maintain information about them:

  • consider the Leave the information where it is strategy and leave all information the social media application/s you are using

If you need basic information about these communications for reporting or monitoring purposes:

  • consider a monthly or half yearly export of your messages using the low level information management strategy

We are having conversations with our clients and user community on social media

If these conversations routine, self contained or provide standard advice and you have no business needs to maintain information about them:

  • consider the Leave the information where it is strategy and leave all information the social media application/s you are using

If advice provided by staff is not routine in nature, if it is complex or involves vulnerable clients or relates to ongoing matters or needs to be referred to by other staff members for advice:

  • these conversations require much more rigorous management. Processes need to be in place to export these conversations for case management, business continuity and/or accountability purposes
  • consider deploying a Needs-based information management strategy or a information for accountability strategy, depending on which best meets your business needs

 

We are publicly consulting on a plan, strategy or project using social media

If there is a business need to use the public feedback received through social media:

  • consider deploying a Needs-based information management strategy or an Information for accountability strategy, depending on which best meets your specific business needs

 

We post videos explaining how to use our services on YouTube

If these videos provide routine advice to your community and you have no specific business or accountability needs to maintain them:

  • consider the Leave the information where it is strategy and leave your videos on YouTube until you no longer have a corporate need for them, then delete

If these videos are significant, explain an important policy or mark a significant public statement or new public direction for your organisation:

  • develop an appropriate management plan for your corporate video before it is uploaded to YouTube. Content exported out of YouTube and back into corporate systems can be of lesser quality than the original uploaded content. Organisations frequently do not maintain copies of video content on internal servers when it is accessible via sharing mechanisms like YouTube. For high value or significant videos, however, it can be important to maintain a copy in internal systems.

 

We use social media to monitor community sentiment and to revise our products, advice or services accordingly

If this monitoring is routine and informative and does not result in significant changes to your business and you have no ongoing business needs to reference this data into the future:

  • consider the Leave the information where it is strategy and leave all information in your social media monitoring tool

If the monitoring data informs planning and decision making in your organisation and is needed as justification for changes in policy, product or service direction:

  • consider a Monitoring-based information strategy or a needs-based information strategy

 

We have some difficult users engaging with our community in our social channels and we want to remove some challenging content

Organisations can be responsible under defamation legislation for defamatory content that others post on corporate social media accounts.

If you have concerns about defamatory or obscene content that is posted on your social media channels:

  • use a Needs-based information strategy to capture a record of inappropriate content in case legal or other business needs arise to explain your actions and then remove the offensive content from your social channel. Use internal information management processes to manage the offensive content removed from your site.

 

Next: Tools for capturing social media information

photo by: eldh
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