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Social media records

Which social media records to capture

Social media content (e.g. posts, blogs, comments, likes, tweets, retweets) is a record and should be managed according to its value and the same rules as all other records.

Most social media content will have a transitory or short-term value.

Some social media content will have a medium to long-term value–usually information that is unique, or requires follow up by the agency or results from service delivery or consultation.

See the following guide to whether social media needs to be captured or not.

Capturing social media

ExampleCapture?
Unique content related to service deliveryYes
Content related to public consultation exercisesYes
Content providing formal advice or guidance (e.g. response to a query)Yes
Content that triggers an internal process (e.g. request for information, complaint, threat)Yes
Content that provides, points to, or copies information available elsewhereNo

Content about non-business-related matters or that is designed solely to build user engagement
(e.g. fun facts, stories or photos, generic comments on trending events or issues)

No
Advertising material (e.g. tweets alerting users to an upcoming event or announcement)No
Tips about how to access or use a government serviceNo
Invitations, friendly remindersNo
'Good luck' or 'congratulations' messagesNo

Which Yammer records to capture

Yammer posts, messages, attachments and polls need to be captured and managed according to their value and the same rules as all other records.

Transitory and short term records do not need to be captured unless they document a business decision or transaction.

You need to capture medium and long-term value content. Members of groups creating content with medium or long-term value should work with their group administrators and information management staff to decide what to capture, which application records should be captured in, who should capture them and how.

The following table is a guide to whether Yammer content needs to be captured or not.

Capturing Yammer content

ExampleCapture?
Contributes to a decision about policy developmentYes
Conversations between members of a project team that have an impact on how the project is runYes
Formal responses to a circulated consultation documentYes
Formal advice given in response to a queryYes
Decisions relating to workYes
Day-to-day postings about work-related events and things of interestNo
Project or business unit updatesNo
Thoughts for the dayNo
Advice or discussions about how to use YammerNo
Invitations to events and groupsNo
Announcements of new members or eventsNo
Copies of information already captured in a recordkeeping systemNo

If different agencies contribute to the same Yammer group, one agency should be given the lead role in capturing records. This may be the agency with overall responsibility for the work or the agency with the most robust recordkeeping system.

When to capture content

Content can be captured before or after it is published.

  • Before–do this in the best format for your agency (e.g. as part of approval process, spreadsheet of tweets, word version of blog content).
  • After–this will depend on the social media platform and how you want to manage the records.

Note: You may need to capture afterwards if you need or want to preserve comments and other responses.

Ways of capturing content

The following lists the options for capturing content directly from a social media platform after it's been published, and the pros and cons of each.

Paid services

(e.g. Hearsay, Socialware, Erado, HootSuite, RegEd, Backupify, ArchiveSocial, SocialSafe, Brolly and others)

Pros

  • No technical knowledge required
  • Low effort
  • Capture content from different platforms simultaneously and aggregate it
  • Analytics tools usually built in

Cons

  • Costs money
  • Some services put the content in a cloud account or local database rather than outputting it as a file you can save into your internal recordkeeping system
  • Some services are designed to restore lost content rather than to preserve it for access and reuse
  • Poor navigation in services not designed for preservation

Built-in export tools

(e.g. Twitter, Wordpress)

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Low effort
  • No technical knowledge required
  • Exported content is easily searchable
  • Preserves metadata

Cons

  • May not be able to pick and choose content for export
  • Doesn't preserve look and feel (exports are usually in .xml format)
  • May not capture attachments

Printscreen

Pros

  • Low cost
  • No technical knowledge required
  • Easy to do–longer threads are condensed or shortened
  • Look and feel preserved

Cons

  • Can be time-consuming if you want to capture a lot of content
  • Exported content not easily searchable
  • Doesn't preserve metadata
  • Doesn't capture attachments

Browser 'save as' or 'save page as'

Pros

  • Low cost
  • No technical knowledge required
  • Easy to do–longer threads are condensed or shortened
  • Exported content easily searchable
  • Preserves look and feel

Cons

  • Web archive files may render differently in different browsers
  • Doesn't preserve metadata
  • Doesn't capture attachments

Application programming interfaces (APIs), where accessible

(e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Yammer*)

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Exported content is easily searchable
  • Preserves metadata
  • Can pick and choose content

Cons

  • The procedures, query formats and quirks of each of the APIs can be daunting
  • Not easy to learn
  • Different APIs have different functionality
  • Doesn't preserve look and feel (exports are usually in .xml format)
  • Doesn't capture attachments

See the guides on using the Facebook (PDF, 268 KB) , Flickr (PDF, 703 KB), Twitter (PDF, 297 KB), YouTube (PDF, 725 KB) and Yammer (PDF, 322 KB) API.

How long to keep them

Social media and Yammer records are subject to the same disposal rules as other digital records.

Records should be sentenced based on the purpose of the post or communication and the function and activity they relate to. This will depend on the purpose of the post or communication.

The General Retention and Disposal Schedule has record classes covering marketing, media relations and routine communications that can be used for general posts and communications.

Any posts or communications that relate to a specific business activity (e.g. consultation, complaints) will need to be sentenced using the same activity or record class that other records documenting that activity would be sentenced under. For example, social media posts about a consultation would be sentenced with all other records relating to that consultation.

Find out how long to keep records and how to destroy them.

Records will need to be managed, stored appropriately and preserved for their full retention period.

Resources