Managing social media business information February 28, 2014

Twitter Bird SketchState Records’ revised guidance on managing social media business information is being progressively published over the next few days. Here are the first few slices. If you have any suggestions for improvements, please let us know.

Summary

NSW Government has a strong and growing social media presence.

Studies of government use of social media show that social media can enable government to reach new audiences, establish communities of practice, provide services and deliver important and effective messages to the community. (See, for instance, New Zealand Government Controller and Auditor-General, Learning from public entities’ use of social media, June 2013)

The NSW ICT Strategy recognises these benefits and encourages widespread use of social media for government business to:

  • improve customer services
  • increase access to information, and
  • involve the community directly in government decision making.

Information generated through social media can provide value to business and the community and should therefore be well managed in order to maximise this value.

Social media use by government is also subject to community expectations and legislative requirements for the appropriate management of information.

This advice from State Records clarifies how agencies can meet these obligations for good information management.

The advice states that:

 

Information about government business is increasingly located in social systems

If this information is needed by your organisation to help perform, improve or report on its operations, then you will need information management strategies to support your social media business.

 

You only need to manage the social media information that meets your business needs

You do not need to make and keep information about all your organisation’s social media business.

Information management rules do apply to social systems but they are governed by your organisation’s specific needs and risks.

 

Social media information strategies must be planned and proactive

These strategies need to be proactive not reactive because social applications are subject to regular change and cannot be relied upon to maintain business information for as long as it may need to be kept.

 

Different strategies may be required for different social media applications and a wide range of tools is available to support your information needs

This advice provides guidance on managing information generated by many forms of social media including social networking tools, blogs, photo and video sharing tools and wikis.

This advice also provides detailed social media information management strategies, and provides an overview of tools which can assist with the management of social media business information.

Why social media information needs managing

There are many forms of social media applications

Many types of social media applications are use in NSW government including:

  • Micro-blogging sites (examples: Twitter, Yammer)
  • Social and professional networking sites (examples: Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Video and photo sharing websites (examples: YouTube, Flikr, Pinterest)
  • Blogs – online diaries for pictures and updates (examples: Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress)
  • Wikis – libraries of collaborative documents that groups of people can edit (example: Wikipedia)
  • Forums and discussion boards (examples include: Google Groups, Ning, Whirlpool) (Source: NSW Social Media Policy and Guidelines, December 2012)

 

Information in social media applications needs to be managed

Information about government business is increasingly located in social systems.

If this information is needed by your organisation to help perform, improve or report on its operations, then you will need information management strategies to support your social media business.

 

But only manage the social media information that meets your business needs

You do not need to make and keep information of all your organisation’s social media business. There are no blanket rules that say ‘you must make and keep information about everything you tweet and every update on your Facebook wall’.

Information management rules do apply to social systems but they are governed by your organisation’s specific needs and risks. Social media is a delivery channel for business and decisions to keep information are based on business needs for information, not the fact that social media is being used as a delivery platform.

Business needs could include the need to:

  • integrate information received through social media with business as usual processes, or business improvement strategies
  • keep social media information of long term business value
  • enable corporate accountabilities operating in other business areas to apply in social systems.

A basic rule of thumb to apply to information in social systems is: If you need it, manage it. If you don’t need it, leave it.

 

Social media information strategies must be planned and proactive

Social media information strategies need to be proactive, not reactive. Strategies need to be proactive because in general social media applications are:

  • third party owned
  • located in the cloud
  • subject to regular change, and
  • unable to be relied upon to maintain business information for as long as it may need to be kept.

Recent advice in the United States, The Sedona Conference Primer on Social Media, December 2012, says that: “Social media data is often hosted remotely, is dynamic and collaborative by nature, can include several data types and is meant to be accessed through unique interfaces.”

The Sedona Conference Primer therefore recommends proactive export and maintenance of social information that has ongoing business value, because maintaining accessibility to core information in social systems is challenging.

It is also important to be proactive in the management of social media information because the majority of social systems make it very clear that it is not their job to manage your business information.

Example: LinkedIn User Agreement, Section 4.1 Services availability (last revised 12 September 2013)

 We may change or discontinue Services, and in such case, we do not promise to keep showing or storing your information and materials…For avoidance of doubt, LinkedIn has no obligation to store, maintain or provide you a copy of any content that you or other Members provide when using the Services.

Therefore, if your organisation is likely to need the business information you are generating through your social systems, you need to plan for this information to be kept.

Next: Management strategies for social media information

photo by: shawncampbell
2 Comments
Andrew Blackman March 23rd, 2014

So when is the next snippet going to be published?

Kate Cumming April 16th, 2014

Sorry Andrew, it finally has. Cheers, Kate

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