Should you back up your social media activity?
Illustration: Harry Afentoglou
Picture this. You've created a Facebook page for your business, you're building a following and they are very engaged. They promote your business on their "walls" and "like" your posts. Or maybe you've developed a strong community on Twitter and this is driving traffic to your website and converting prospects into sales.
Then the unthinkable happens.
There are various services available to backup your social media - all of which do a good job and all of which have merit. However, SocialSafe is certainly my pick in terms of ease of use, value for money and the ability to export meaningful data.
Your page gets shut down. A bug wipes all your followers and deletes those you are following. You've lost all this valuable data and you're going to have a tough time getting it back. Or it will take a long time to rebuild the community that you've taken years to build.
Or perhaps you don't suffer from something so dramatic. Maybe, for legal reasons, you need to find a Twitter exchange between you and another person from way back in 2008. Or you just want to find a photo that you Tweeted five months ago. And what about all those snaps you've loaded on to Instagram? Is there a quick and easy way to suck them all out so you can use them elsewhere? Do you have a decent backup system for your social media?
We've all been indoctrinated into how important it is to backup our computer files and other data. Our IT advisers tell us to schedule regular backups not only on one external hard drive but two. Just in case.
But with more small businesses taking their activity online - from customer interactions and promotion of products - are you backing up your data, messages and interactions on social media?
There are various ways you can do this. But sometimes it can be a boring manual process where you're trawling through pages and pages of old data in order to find what you want. There are various options to overcome this:
Backupify will back up everything from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Flickr. Starting at US$4.99 per month (A$4.80) for five accounts.
BackUpMyTweets, as the name suggests, backs up your Tweets. It's free if you Tweet about it (and your data will remain in the cloud). However, if you pay US$12 (A$11.60) a year, you can download the data to analyse and manipulate yourself.
TweetBackup, is a similar service and is powered by Backupify. It runs a daily backup and asks that you follow @tweetbackup on Twitter
For Facebook, you can download a copy of your Facebook data by going to to your profile, click on "Account settings", and then click on "Download a copy of your Facebook data". This will reflect your data at that particular point in time.
Basically, there is no shortage of many different social media backup services to choose from, all offering didn't levels of service. Some are easy to use, others more unwieldy. One of the most popular is Backupify.
However, one that has flown under the radar is SocialSafe.
I have been using SocialSafe for five weeks now and have been very impressed.
Please note that I have no affiliation with SocialSafe.
I became aware of the service at I attended the South by South West Interactive Festival in March and decided to try it out.
However, unlike many platforms that I subscribe to, which then fall by the wayside, I find that I'm using SocialSafe more every week. While there is a free version, the Pro version is only US$6.99 (A$6.75) for the whole year. And, quite frankly, if your business uses social media and you are not currently backing up your activity, you're mad not to do it.
At minimum, it can back up Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and all your photos on Instagram. Importantly, it will also back up your Facebook business pages. This is vital if you want to keep a record of your interactions and messages. It will backup wall posts, notes, active fans and so on.
The backup is done automatically and while some backup services will only backup activity from the point at which you subscribe to the service, SocialSafe will retrieve and backup data as far back as the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+/Instagram API will allow. I can retrieve activity from my first post on Facebook in 2007.
Easy to use interface
I have also been impressed with the search functionality on SocialSafe. Not only can you search by keyword, you can search by date, person, photos or wall post. If you remember that you posted a useful link somewhere back in 2010, you can retrieve it by typing in keywords. There is also no huge lag while the application searches, it appears within seconds.
The feature that I find most useful is the ability to export data as a .csv file (Excel). For example, you can export a list of your Twitter followers and this will contain everything from their name, Twitter handle, when they joined Twitter, where they are based, how many followers they have, how many people they are following, whether you follow them back and how many times they've tweeted since they joined.
This data is immensely valuable. It means you can easily identify your most influential followers, to sort them by geography, level of activity and even timezone (in case you want to determine whether it's worthwhile to schedule Tweets while you are asleep for followers in another part of the world).
Like I said, there are various services available to backup your social media - all of which do a good job and all of which have merit. However, SocialSafe is certainly my pick in terms of ease of use, value for money and the ability to export meaningful data.
Do you backup your social media? What service do you use and would you recommend it?