ArchiveSocial vs. PageFreezer vs. Smarsh
Some would say government transparency is critical to a stable democracy. Indeed, it is critical in building public trust and ensuring a degree of constituent accountability. But in our ever-changing digital age, transparency can be easily convoluted and misunderstood.
Social media is still being integrated into transparency policies. By its nature, social media posts are readily available for people to view and hear anytime and anywhere. But while platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are open to the public without an account, mediums like Nextdoor require membership.
In all cases, local government agencies are required to ensure social media posts on all platforms are available to the public. In California, that legal requirement is codified in the California Public Records Act, Section 6252, which states: any writing containing information related to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.
Tracking social media posts and comments can be a challenge, though. For most agencies, it requires staff to go back and find all the posts and comments that were published. For older posts or agencies that produce a lot of content, this is a time-intensive process. To help with this, a few companies have emerged that automatically archive and track government agency social media posts and comments.
ArchiveSocial is a cloud-based archiving solution that captures social media posts and comments and records them in an easy-to-search database. The platform interfaces directly with each social network in order to capture and preserve data in its native format so that managers and clerks can see the content as it was published. ArchiveSocial also allows managers and clerks to pull metrics for reporting purposes.
Learn more about ArchiveSocial by visiting www.archivesocial.com.
PageFreezer is similar to ArchiveSocial in that it automatically captures and records social media posts and comments, but the online platform goes one step further by archiving identified blogs and websites. This can be helpful for larger organizations that have multiple media outlets and community forums in their area. PageFreezer also has a robust search function and allows for data export and reporting.
Learn more about PageFreezer by visiting www.pagefreezer.com.
Smarsh takes archiving functionality to the next level by allowing managers and clerks to archive email, instant messages and chats, and text messages, in addition to websites and social media. Like the other platforms, posts and comments are retained in their original context and not flattened into a generic format. Also like the other platforms, Smarsh provides search and data exporting features.
Learn more about Smarsh by visiting www.smarsh.com.
Pricing for social media archiving services like these can range from $99 to $500 a month. Cities and counties should expect to spend upwards of $250 a month for a robust package that allows for the archiving of multiple platforms, advanced search and export functionality, and access by multiple staff members.
All three of these platforms comply with all state open record laws, and by that virtue alone, reduce public records compliance risks. Government agencies considering using archiving platforms like these should keep in mind that outside of compliance, these services really have just one purpose, to reduce the amount of time it takes staff to search for content and conversations published online. That tip alone should give all managers and clerks a good starting point in deciding which platform is right for them.