6 reasons to manage and archive your social media

By Michelle McNickle
12:48 PM

Social media's use in healthcare is without a doubt growing. But as organizations learn how to leverage these tools, a recent whitepaper by Osterman Research makes clear organizations also need have plans in place to both manage and archive their social media use. 

The report describes six reasons organizations should consider managing and archiving their social media.

1. Its use is growing, along with the use of enterprise social media. Recently published statistics show an ever-growing use of sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, and more. In fact, Pinterest, the newest platform, had nearly five million unique US visitors in November 2011, according to the report, and roughly 20 million users in March 2012. In addition, 19 percent of organizations surveyed are using an enterprise-grade social media platform, although, this is significantly less than the number of those using consumer-focused tools. "Despite the comparatively low use of enterprise-grade social media platforms at present [there will be] significant growth is the market for these tools," read the report. This is due to decision makers recognizing the value of social media for collaboration, knowledge sharing, skills discovery, and more, as well as decision makers recognizing the significant level of threats they face from the unregulated use of non-enterprise tools in a workplace context. 

2. Recent trends have more discovering its business benefits. When managed properly, the report shows social media can create a sense of community and affirmation for employees, business partners and others within the organization. "It can provide a means of information sharing and gathering that is simply not possible with other corporate tools," the study read. "Moreover, if organizations can create the appropriate environment within their organization, viewing it as an integral component of their larger corporate culture, they can speed decision-making and improve the quality of corporate decisions." With the proper use of social media, organizations can also leverage their employees to serve as "an amplification channel" for message the company is looking to promote on a wide scale, according to the report.

[See also: Social media insights from a digital strategist.]

3. There is a lack of social media policies across organizations. The vast majority of organizations don't have detailed and thorough social media policies in place, the report said. For example, when surveyed, organizations told how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogging ranked last in developed policies, behind the Web, email, and personal smartphones. "Moreover, even where policies exist, many organizations do not enforce compliance rules in a methodical and meaningful way," it read. For instance, in 2012, the survey found just 13 to 20 percent of organizations monitored posts to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, while enforcing corporate compliance rules. "Further, 76 percent to 83 percent of organizations either ask individuals to comply with corporate policies focused on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but do not screen for content, or they do nothing."

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4. There is a high potential for malware infiltration. Among the chief threats organizations face from unmanaged use of social media is the potential for malware. According to the report, malware has infiltrated 24 percent of organizations through Facebook, and 7 percent of organizations through Twitter and LinkedIn. "More troubling, however, is the fact that a large proportion of organizations are simply not sure whether or not malware has entered through these tools," the report read. It advised that although traditional anti-virus and anti-malware tools can be somewhat effective, a zero-hour threat detection and remediation capability is necessary to block malware that can enter through social media, including malware that can enter through mobile devices.

[See also: Social media for healthcare providers: without it, 'you don't exist'.]

5. Recent legal cases confirm the need to archive social media activity. Organizations' failure to archive their social media content is a "serious problem," read the report, despite the growing number of regulations, court decisions, and other guidance that strongly suggests that social media content be archived. Various regulatory requirements have been developed, along with many legal cases highlighting the growing importance of retaining social media content. In fact, according to the report, a separate study found 674 federal and state court decisions involved social media evidence, for a 22-month period ending November 1, 2011. 

6. There is a strong potential misuse of social media by employees. The report showcased many examples of employees misusing various social media outlets. "A hospital employee in Hawaii with access to patients' medical records illegally accessed another person's records and posted on Myspace that the individual had HIV," it read. To combat this? The report outlined a series of steps to effectively manage social media. To start, an organization should determine benefits and how to best manage risks: "[It] should determine if it can obtain competitive advantage through the use of social media … instead of making a knee-jerk decision not to use these tools because of security or other risks they may pose." Next, organizations should develop, enforce, and update social media policies; manage their social media appropriately; consider using analytics to understand their market and consider deploying enterprise social media, according to the report.

Follow Michelle McNickle on Twitter, @Michelle_writes