By Allan Maurer
Social media management is a hot topic right now as more and more firms enter the fray. But while many companies are addressing the marketing side of how to use social media effectively, only a few industries are thinking about potential legal, compliance and e-discovery risks.
Companies are using social media for purposes such as recruitment and customer service as well as marketing, notes Anil Chawla, founder and CEO of Durham, NC-based ArchiveSocial.
“They need to take ownership of their social media data and keep track of their communications. They need to keep records of what they’re saying and what others are saying to them,” Chawla says.
Financial services leading the way
Some industries know this. Financial services firms and others with regulatory requirements understand it’s not a luxury to keep track of their social media interactions, its necessary.
“Financial services are at the bleeding edge of this,” says Chawla.
Government agencies with public records requirements also need to keep records of their social media activities, although Chawla notes that many “are struggling with it.”
He suspects that companies punting the issue down the road may not do anything until “Some sort of incident forces them to change.”
ArchiveSocial, founded in May of 2011, sells a cloud-based social media archiving solution. Businesses can sign-up online, connect the service to their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, and it automatically pulls in any account history.
The two-person company was part of the inaugural class of The Triangle Startup Factory and received an NC IDEA grant this year (2012).
Appearing at Internet Summit in Raleigh
Chawla will discuss ArchiveSocial and the need for keeping social media records at the upcoming Internet Summit at the Raleigh, NC, Convention Center Nov. 7-8, which attracts 2,000 attendees to its lineup of 120 marquee brand name speakers and panelists.
Brands represented this year include PandoDaily, Twitter, Mashable, AOL, Bing, Klout, Google, IBM and the Cheezburger Network, among many others.
Chawla has spent more than 10 years developing software products, including 7 years at IBM creating enterprise security software and Big Data analysis tools. At IBM, he says, “I realized I wasn’t achieving my potential. I started tinkering on the side with social media apps and the satisfaction of creating something on my own was far more satisfying.”
Although he was promoted at IBM, he finally decided it was time to “Figure something out and start a company.”
He decided it was a good time for ArchiveSocial, because many of the available solutions were cumbersome work arounds compared to what his company’s technology does.
“Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn are not in the business of keeping your data available to you forever,” Chawla says.
Every established company should keep social media records
And once you move beyond regulated markets such as financial services, there is the whole issue of potential e-discovery is a company is sued. “Social media is being requested more often,” in e-discovery,” he adds.
“Just from a legal standpoint, every established company on social networks should be proactive about keeping records,” he says.
Why? Suppose a customer “Creates a storm on social media and then deletes everything he posted? Then you can’t prove your side of the story because you don’t have the records,” Chawla says.
For companies, on the other hand, once something posts on social media, “You have broadcasted it to the world,” says Chawla. “Even if you delete it, someone else may have it.”
ArchiveSocial’s key differentiator
The key differentiator between ArchiveSocial and its competitors, he says, “Is how we capture the data. We do a 100 percent authentic capture. A lot of others claim to archive social media, but none are doing it well. Many of them just use web page archiving tools, which just take a snapshot of Facebook and Twitter. It’s like taking a picture of your gmail and calling that email archiving.”
That means users can scroll through their walls or history, see comments, and search by person, discover who sent a message and where it was sent from, and more. “It’s a powerful search feature,” Chawla says.
Data from a search can be reproduced in a Pdf or Excel file.
“We focused a lot of effort on providing easy-to-use tools to manage search and produce data when necessary,” he says.
Chawla says the company is just beginning to ramp up marketing with a more public launch, although it already has paying customers.
The company may seek additional funding later in the year.