What would you do if you woke up tomorrow morning and Facebook or Twitter had deleted your accounts?

Every single post, picture, interaction and conversation…gone.

Do you have a regular backup schedule or automated solution for ensuring that valuable data about the relationships your business is cultivating can be restored in such an event?

At the moment, the reality is that once you use a social network to reach your audience, your ability to create a record or a backup of your data depends on how portable that social network allows your data to be*.

Getting Data out of Social Networks

Some platforms, Facebook for example, do include an “export” function so that you can save a snapshot of your social media account in case of emergency. However, the reliability of this backup depends entirely on you remembering to go and do it regularly.

Additionally, the type of exported files produced are often platform-specific and not easily interpreted by anything other than the import function of the platform itself.

Twitter is particularly difficult to extract posts from (in the past I have resorted to the fairly Luddite copy-and-paste-into-a-text-file strategy for retaining copies of my Tweets), although there are reports that they are working on this.

On the other hand, some online streams are particularly conscious of the portability of your data.
For example, Google have a specific task force dedicated to ensuring that you can retain a copy of all the data across your Google accounts, the Data Liberation Front.

Tools for Backing Up Your Online Presence

Once you have had an online presence for a while, the amount of content generated can become more valuable for analysis, but also more difficult to sort through and find.

One application which allows you to both analyse trends in your social media posts and to retain a copy of all your posts and interactions across Facebook and Twitter, is ThinkUp. ThinkUp is free, open source software which operates across your social media accounts, allowing you to analyse and visualise trends.

“With ThinkUp, you can store your social activity in a database that you control, making it easy to search, sort, analyze, publish and display activity from your network. All you need is a web server that can run a PHP application.”

Other tools include:

  • Backupify – cloud backup and recovery for Google Apps, Salesforce and social networks
  • Backup my Tweets – does what it says on the tin!
  • If this then that – allows you to automate aspects of your online presence based on a set of triggers, e.g. “if I add a new image to Instagram, then save it to my Dropbox account”.

*As a sidenote, a major plus of using open source applications is that this kind of functionality is usually important to developers and communities and so, is regularly included (or at least acknowledged).