Social media allows organizations to carve out a little bit of online space to call their own. But that usually involves posting—a lot. It’s not unheard of for an organization to publish up to 30 social media posts per day.

That’s a lot to keep track of.

The Rules of Social Media Archiving

A senior director at Symantec notes, “Businesses know how important it is to protect and preserve email, IM, spreadsheets and other unstructured information. Now they need to recognize that information flowing through social networks is equally important.”

ARMA International agrees that organizations have an obligation to preserve and archive all social media posts. A proper record that is usable during litigation or audits must:

  • Be secure.
  • Be unmodifiable and undeletable.
  • Be searchable using metadata.
  • Have an audit history.

The Federal Rules of Evidence also require a digital timestamp and digital signature to prove the authenticity and integrity of electronic files presented in court. All rules considered, this means you can’t rely on your organization’s previously published posts on the social media site as an archive.

So how can an organization ensure that it is correctly archiving the hundreds of posts it is publishing per week?

Create a Social Media Retention Policy

  1. Establish a publication process. Understand and document the steps that lead up to the publication of a tweet or post. Know who is involved with creating, reviewing and publishing the post.
  2. Establish a retention schedule. Determine the appropriate length of time your social media records should be kept. This will vary based on your industry.
  3. Establish a centralized repository to store social media records. Ideally, this repository should be the same place where all your business records are stored. It’s important that the repository allows record indexing. This means that every record saved to the repository has associated metadata, which makes it easy for people to find the exact records they need.
  4. Train your staff. Unless records retention is streamlined with automatic workflows, it’s important that anyone involved is aware and trained to properly support this strategy. This includes:
    • Recording who created, approved and published the post.
    • Capturing the content of the post and recording the date and time of publication.
    • Completing the metadata of the post.
    • Archiving the post with the above data in an easily searchable repository.

The more robust enterprise content management (ECM) systems can automate much of the publishing, archiving and retention aspects of the policy. Automation ensures that each and every record is archived accurately, consistently and in accordance with the firm’s policies and procedures.

To learn more about retention policies in general, read the “Ultimate Guide to Records Management.”


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