March 18, 2010

By Jason Falls, Chief Evangelist for Backupify

Social media policies are being created at a mind-boggling pace. The more people flock to Facebook and Twitter, the more tempted they are to do so at work. With businesses also seeing the value of company pages on Facebook, corporate blogs and the like, the more realize the need for do’s and don’ts for their employees, web visitors and more.

But social media policy is much more than telling those in the cubicles they can’t play Farmville at work. A good social media policy not only establishes employee and company expectations inside the company walls, but also outlines how the company employs social media externally and what procedures should be taken to handle various types of needs dealing with those efforts.

One important point that is often missed when developing social media policies is ensuring a company’s online data is safe. Policies should include recommendations or requirements for security settings on various social networks, including frequent password changes, privacy settings review and such. Social media policies should also include requirements to back up the company’s cloud data.

Why Backup Cloud Data?
Any data you have, whether it’s personal or belongs to the company, is important to someone. Family pictures, your favorite bookmarks, department budget spreadsheets, an email exchange with a vendor — all would cause a certain amount of trepidation, and in some cases panic, if they were lost. The IT policies of most companies includes prescribing a schedule and list of requirements for backing up servers, email accounts and intranets. Now that companies are storing certain data online, you want to ensure all the company files remain in tact.

Machines Aren’t Invincible
There are two types of hard drives: Ones that have crashed and ones that will. The same can be said for servers. Higher usage speeds up that process. While we’d like to think companies like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or even Google with Gmail and Google Documents are backing up our information regularly, they aren’t required to do so. With a company like Twitter, which has yet to produce a viable business model and has a history of data and server outages, you can’t really trust that your information is safe.

Cloud Data Is As Important As Your Hard Drive
Not only is cloud data as important as that on your hard drive, in some cases it’s more important or even critical. Many businesses rely on Gmail to run their core online communications. Many also use Google Docs for collaboration and file sharing. Do you really want that 2011 forecast spreadsheet you spent 18 hours formatting with the 34 tabs and MIT formulas to disappear because Serge and Larry decided to flip the switch to underwater servers and there was a leak?

The Law May Require It
In many industries marketing communications must be documented to ensure regulatory compliance. Even if you’re not in pharma, spirits, health care or financial services, having a trail of everything you posted, tweeted, emailed and shared will help your lawyers sleep a bit easier. Archiving your activity could also save you from having to pay them a lot of money for research should that information ever be needed for litigation. To put it simply, there’s a reason companies have archives and storage. Even if it’s not a legal or regulatory compliance, having a library of what you’ve done online is as important as the white file box one in the basement.

Bake In Back Up
The notion that you would rather be safe than sorry isn’t just a flippant saying. Your data, whether it’s on your computer’s hard drive or Facebook’s servers is mightily important to your company. As you sit down to write your social media policies, think of your employee’s use of social media, your company’s use of social media, but also the procedures you need to take to maintain the integrity of the information you are producing.

Backing up your cloud data is important. If someone else’s servers hiccup and the data is gone, computer files and messages won’t be the only thing you’ll lose. Your sanity just might go with them.

Jason Falls is a social media educator, blogger and consultant. He is also chief evangelist for Backupify, a leading cloud backup service provider which does offer Twitter backup along with several other cloud and Web 2.0 services. He can be found online at

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