At Brolly, we talk regularly to our local government customers across Australia and New Zealand. Two concerns are raised regularly in conversations with local government:
- Most local shires and councils have at least one member of the community who contributes negative, disruptive or unhelpful comments on the council’s public social media channels.
- Elected councillors are often concerned about ensuring their privacy is protected and this can make them reluctant to have their records archived.
In this article we share how a social media archive like Brolly can benefit your council, your councillors and the community.
1. An archive keeps you and your councillors compliant with recordkeeping legislation
As your governance team will tell you, it’s important for your organisation to be compliant with relevant legislation. The Archives Act 1983 and state and territory based records legislation are clear that social media records should be archived so that your council is compliant with the law and its regulations.
This also applies to elected councillors, for example where a councillor has created a Facebook page as part of their role with Council.
The Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) has published information on their website about which social media records should be archived, and the list includes:
• emergency warnings
• communications activities
• volunteer recruitment
• complaints and feedback
• crowd-sourced policy development.
If council or elected councillors are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube or other channels to publish any of these kinds of records, you should be archiving your social media.
2. A record of public consultations and customer service
State-based advice provided by authorities like the Public Records Office of Victoria and the Queensland Government have useful guidelines for which social media records need to be archived.
Public consultation and customer service are two areas where archiving is particularly important, because the information gathered through these activities inform council decisions and can also trigger council activities and responses.
A Brolly social media archive captures and preserves your social media conversations on these topics. The consolidated archive can be tagged, filtered and segmented to ensure you’re keeping topic-related records together, across all your channels. In this way an archive can be even more powerful than the raw records, for reporting, planning and service improvement.
3. A social media archive keeps a record of edits, deletes and hides
From time to time, comments and posts need to be deleted. Members of the public who post negative or disruptive comments may also decide to edit or delete their comments.
When you delete a post from Facebook or Twitter you can’t get it back.
If any of these comments trigger an investigation or legal action it’s important for you or the affected councillor to have an authentic record of the conversation.
A Brolly archive maintains these interactions so that even if a post or comment has been deleted, edited or hidden, you have a record of that action, including date, time and any changes made.
4. A social media archive is secure and can only be accessed by authorised users
When it comes to privacy and security, Brolly ensures that your social media data is protected and only accessible to the people who should be able to see it.
Authorised users only!
Social media accounts can only be connected into Brolly by people who are authorised users on the relevant channel. For example you can only connect a council’s Facebook page to Brolly if you have admin or editor access to that page.
For elected councillors with business pages on Facebook, we recommend that the council uses Brolly groups. This creates a separate area in Brolly for the councillor where they can connect their own social media account and manage their own archive or delegate that responsibility to an appropriate person. An authorised council employee would then be able to export the councillor’s archive, or the councillor could do it themselves. In any case the archive is secure, protected and keeps the councillor’s records compliant.
It’s important to remember that Brolly is used for business pages and accounts, and does not have access to personal profiles on Facebook.
Councils and councillors have a duty to their ratepayers and the wider community. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic impacted how we communicate with customers and community, there was already a shift to online channels such as social media. The reason is simple. Across Australia, community and citizens are choosing to engage with their local council on their smart phones or iPads, relying on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates.
Are your council staff and elected councillors engaging with your community on social media in the same way that you used to do by phone, email or in-person meetings? Your social media interactions are subject to the same recordkeeping obligations as other types of interactions, and need to be captured in a format that includes context and metadata and can be exported for upload into your eDRMS.