Blog article /6 MIN READ

Why social media trends in 2021 are the least of your worries

In 2020 Brolly archived more social media records for customers in Australia and New Zealand than ever before. Here’s what we learned during this extraordinary year.

If you’re like us, you’re seeing your inbox fill up with a slew of emails offering trends and predictions for 2021. 

Based on what happened in 2020, you’re probably taking it all with a large pinch of salt. Let’s face it, predictions for 2020 were out the window by March. By the time we went into our first lockdown in Australia we had lived through horrendous bushfires that felt like an apocalypse. Then Covid-19 triggered responses around the globe that fundamentally changed how businesses interacted with customers and communities. The unplanned and unpredictable events of 2020 affected Australians in all walks of life, and we still don’t know for sure how many of the changes we saw then will be with us forever. 

At Brolly, we watched the impact in our social media data sets and logs. As the world burned, and then through extended months of lockdown, our skilled development team and support superheroes oversaw the capture of 20% more social media records (millions!). We welcomed new customers from all over Australia and New Zealand, delivered demonstrations, ran free trials, appeared at multiple virtual events and met via the small screen every day, often more than once. Meanwhile, the digital landscape continue to evolve, at speed. 

And here are four things we learned. 

Organisations are responsible for the comments on their social media

In a landmark decision this year, the NSW Court of Appeals upheld the NSW Supreme Court ruling that media organisations are responsible for the comments on their social media posts, even if the comments were posted by someone outside their organisation. 

Staying within the law may require removing comments from public view. That might mean hiding or deleting. Either way, you must retain a verifiable, legally testable record of that deleted or hidden post or comment. On most social media channels, a deleted post is gone forever. So an archive is essential. 

Why this matters for you: These decisions position social media channels as ‘publications’ that you are responsible for managing. If someone else posts something on your social media that is defamatory, or illegal in some other way, you have a responsibility to manage it, and make sure that the content on your channel remains within the law. Brolly can help in two important ways for situations like this: 

  1. You can monitor your channels by setting up an alert so that you receive an email when certain key words or phrases are used in your social media 
  2. Brolly retains a fully compliant and contextualised record of every comment and its parent post, so that even if its hidden or deleted on the original channel it is stored securely as a record if you need to access it for any reason.

We can’t trust social media like we used to

The Twitter hack in July affected ‘blue tick’ members of the Twitter community, and suddenly we couldn’t even trust the voices we’d previously relied on as authentic. Bots and trolls swayed opinion, and played a part in escalating bad behaviour, conspiracy theories and outrage around topics such as bushfires, Black Lives Matter, the pandemic and the US election. 

Through ongoing studies by researchers like Dr Timothy Graham and the team at QUT, we began to understand the risks faced by organisations and individuals on social media. 

Why this matters for you: It became more important than ever to capture and protect the content you publish on social media, along with comments and conversations. Not only is there an increased need to be able to prove that you said what you say you said, but a complete archive also provides verifiable evidence that could be called on in the case of FOI requests, court cases, royal commissions, inquiries and accusations of disinformation. Twitter, Facebook and all the social media channels don’t have a business model that prioritises protecting your records. That’s something you need to take care of. 

Digital transformation has sped up

Most organisations are in some stage of digital transformation, some further down the track than others. And no matter where you were in the continuum, you’re further along today than you were six months ago. 

Because of lockdown, with so many people working from home, recordkeeping requirements didn’t go away, but compliance became a little trickier. 

Now government, schools and universities, health and corporate businesses such as insurance, banks and even not for profits, are wrestling with the question of how and when to bring staff back to a centralised workplace. In the meantime more of us are working from home than ever before.  

In the face of all this, capturing and maintaining digital records remains as important as it ever was (some say more so).  

Why this matters for you: Accelerated digital transformation can create chaos, at least in the early stages.  Combine that with a dispersed workforce and the result is inevitably that there’s too much to do, and everything’s harder. In all this disarray, social media can too easily be forgotten but an archive of this increasingly important conversation mode is absolutely essential for full transparency, reporting and recordkeeping compliance. 

Facebook and Twitter as customer service channels 

Because it was available (on everybody’s smart phone) and already a first choice for many of us, social media was also how more government agencies and businesses reached out to the public with advice, support and useful information to help navigate the unique circumstances of 2020. 

With offices closed and people unable to venture out for in-person support, phone lines soon became clogged. After one too many automated messages saying ‘we are experiencing extremely high volume of calls’, many of us turned to social media for help. Facebook and Twitter often provided an effective, alternative channel as we saw very clearly in our data

Why this matters for you: As service providers and customers, we turned to Facebook because it was easy. But the truth is that Facebook was not built for the kind of monitoring, management and recordkeeping that most organisations must do to fulfil their legal responsibilities. So you need a simple, flexible tool that allows you to see your conversations in one place, capture all your records in secure, local data servers and export in a format that works with whatever EDRMS your organisation uses. Brolly offers all of this, perhaps explaining why we saw so much interest in 2020. 

Who knows what 2021 will bring? We think it’s probably safe to ignore the predictions and simply enjoy the end of 2020.  Well done for getting this far! 

Brolly as an antidote to uncertainty and change

If this article has made you think differently about social media archiving, why not talk to us for 20 minutes and find out if Brolly is the right solution for you. No time for a chat?  Sign up for a free trial and play in our sandpit free for 30 days. You’d be very welcome.