I have been a social media/networking advocate for the past year. I have really enjoyed seeing all the ways government has opened up and embraced using social M/N tools to enhance their communications with their constituents. However, many governments are still in the beginning stages of figuring out how to use the tools, create a strategy and how to deal with providing two-way conversation. As I have been out and about doing lectures, webinars, conference speaking and meetings with different managers regarding social M/N, I hear common concerns throughout the conversations. What about public records and how do we manage either requests, and providing the information and achieving?

Well, it is really no different than we have been doing for years. Some of you may have been with government when it first started using E-Mail. People were scared to use it at first. It took a while for all employees to embrace and use as a business tool. Then came the how do we archive and provide public records? Needless to say, we (government) found ways to take care of that. It may not have been right when e-mail was implemented, but eventually we got there.

Now that technology has progressed we are at that cross road again. How do we archive and provide public records for social M/N? Slowly, but surely, it is coming.

One question I am asked a lot is, “so if there are ways to archive, where do we find this information?” So I have provided a list of a few tools that might be helpful. I have tested each one of these and all work very well. I have provided different options, because we all know that the government blocks websites and many agencies do not allow employees to download and install software. If you choose to use any of these, it might be helpful to include the process in your procedures.

Twitter:

TWInbox – Outlook plug-in that works directly within Outlook. By creating folders you can keep a copy of tweets sent and received. This plug-in is free. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in). See demonstration.

TweeTake– offers options for archiving. This is free. (Comment: I have heard many people say they like this option. No software download and can bring the zip file into a spreadsheet program.) See demonstration.

Please note that these are 3rd party tools that require you to put in the Twitter username and password. You may want to change your Twitter password frequently using a strong password.

Facebook:

SocialSafe – Facebook backup – This plug-in is cost $2.99. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install on your computer).

Firefox Plugin– Free. Creates a “zip” file. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in).

Updated – 6/01/2010 – PageFreezer – creates a digital snapshots on a schedule that you set. This service charges a monthly fee.

Wayback Machine – Much like PageFreezer, this also creates digital snapshots.

Please note that these are 3rd party tools. You may want to change your password frequently using a strong password. Keep in mind with 3rd party tools and services, that you have no control as to when those sites are functioning or not.

There are many PDF tools available, where you can open your page and create a PDF by doing a Print to PDF option. A free PDF maker I use is PDFCreator. Here are a couple more that are also free PDF995 | PrimoPDF (You will need install rights to install the plug-in). (Comment: I do not usually use this method, because it seems like with Facebook pages never really PDF right.)

There are probably many more tools out there. This is just to get you started.

I am also including this link, as an example of Washington Secretary of State’s advice and resources for electronic records.

Resource for Government’s in Florida – Social Media iToolKit

*Disclaimer: I have worked for government for nearly 20 years; however I am not a public records expert. Please contact your records management or legal office for specific information about your retention schedules and laws.

Hope this is helpful to get you started. Feel free to add what tools or procedures you use to archive your Twitter, Facebook or other Social M/N sites.

Twitter is totally AWESOME! Yesterday I was able to watch conversations as I was following two conferences that I could not physically attend.  #govwebcon and #TE2 via Twitterfall.com.  Today I demoed it to a co-worker while I was helping her with her Facebook page.  So if you get a chance visit her new facebook group for Chinsegut Nature Center.

Now that I have been an innovator advocate for social media in government, it is truly encouraging to see the WhiteHouse on twitter now. I think it will give a true leadership example to other government agencies.  I’m also glad to see that they are following other government agencies. I feel that we should support each others efforts by following other government agency — State and Local too.

So a while back I had an invite to Facebook, so of course I clicked on the link and was “sucked” in immediately. Then a few months ago I signed up for a Twitter account. At first I was like…I feel like a “twit”. What do I have to say? Why would people want to follow me? (I’m still asking myself that question). I am now getting more diversed in using social media tools, and really see how they can benefit you professionally.  For me, I pretty much use Facebook for my “personal” stuff and “friends”. Twitter has become more of a work tool as I follow several software companies and enthusiasts. I have learned many things, that I don’t think I would otherwise have seeked out. So I do see the benefits. If you are not participating in social media/networking…you should at least professionally.