Charley Barth of the Department of the Navy would certainly agree with this subject line, contrary to the popular maxim of “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” That’s because since October 2010, the National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) has maintained that social media records should be archived, if the platform in question adds value, e.g., inviting public comment or other collaboration opportunities. Just taking a “snapshot” is not enough. In Barth’s mind, a snapshot is “just a picture of a page.”
Furthermore, being able to capture context of communications is critical too. The Federal Records Council’s social media subgroup found that public-generated content in a government forum was just as important as government-created content. So, capturing comments and entire conversation threads becomes ever more critical in the eyes of Barth.
Fortunately, there are technology solutions available today that can capture exactly that. Actiance Socialite can record content posted to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as comments, in context. Transcripts are presented in a conversational format such that, if you’re a reviewer or compliance officer, it’s very easy to grasp the nature of a conversation taking place over social media channels. No need to sift through a voluminous content management system or archiving platform to piece together a given conversation. Everything is presented logically and contextually, simplifying the separation of the wheat from the chaff.
There’s a whole lot of chatter and noise on social media – it gives us all a mouthpiece. Sometimes, finding that nugget of information, say, that thread on the benefits of stem cell research, can be challenging. But, with the appropriate solution, finding and presenting information seamlessly can make folks like Barth sleep easy at night. Governments worldwide have a reputation for inefficiency and a plodding nature, but with the right tools and policies, this one of ours might well become the poster child for how to properly and effectively record social media content without stifling government transparency and public engagement with its agencies.
Certainly, George, Thomas, and the rest of the Founding Fathers would be proud of that.