Should businesses backup their social media data?

Many of us have long heard the well-repeated mantra to “backup our files.” And still many of us have cursed ourselves for forgetting to backup files and invariably losing a document once in a while when our computer freezes. But what about backing up social media data? While it might seem like a tedious task for personal accounts, it makes sense for businesses that depend on their social media activity for part of their company’s growth.

Any number of things can happen. If a company has a Facebook page that is very engaged with a large following,  it could be bad for business if their page gets shut down for some reason, or a bug deletes their followers on Twitter. A lot of valuable data could be lost and it could take a large amount of time and resources to re-build an online community that might have previously taken years to build. Backing up social media exchanges can also be key for businesses that might find themselves needing documents for legal reasons. Or on a simpler note, an Instagram picture uploaded one year ago or a Tweet sent last month might need to be accessed quickly and easily.

There are a wide range of backup options available for businesses on social media sites. Some of these options include:

TweetBackup, is a service powered by Backupify. It creates a daily backup and also asks that you follow  @tweetbackup on Twitter. For a cost ($5 per month), Backupify will also backup data from five different social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Flickr.

BackUpMyTweets, does exactly what the name suggests and is free if you Tweet about the service. Businesses can also pay $12 a year to download their Twitter data for analysis. To backup Facebook data, users can download a copy by going to their profile and clicking on “Account Settings,” and then “Download a copy of your Facebook data,” which will reflect data at that particular point in time.

SocialSafe.: There is both a free version and a Pro version which costs around $7 for the year. The backup happens automatically and covers Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Instagram photos. Most importantly for small businesses, the service can back up a Facebook business page, which includes wall posts, notes, active fans, etc, with a functionality that can search by date, person, photos or wall post. What’s interesting is that while most services will only provide backup activity from the time the user subscribes to the service, SocialSafe will retrieve as much old data as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn API (etc..) will allow.

Businesses with a Twitter following can export a list of their followers with a .csv (Excel) file, which can give them valuable information including a follower’s  name, Twitter handle, when they joined Twitter, their location, the number of followers they have, how many people they follow, whether or not you also follow them and how many times they’ve tweeted since joining Twitter. Business owners can also easily identify their most important and influential followers and categorize them by geography and level of activity, meaning a company can schedule their Tweets to the time of day when those followers are most likely to see them… very valuable indeed!

Extracting nouns with sentiment using chunking and part of speech tagging.

So here’s the problem you’re trying to solve: you work for a hotel who’s trying to improve its customer service and overall product. Your friends tell you that social media is the bees knees so you start monitoring Twitter & Facebook for mentions of your hotel (of course, you’re using Repustate to do this!)

You notice tweets like this: “I love their beds, but their staff are rude!”. There’s some mixed sentiment there, how do you extract out the good and the bad? You use Repustate’s API, that’s how.



What you’re seeing above is the Repustate API in action via the Python client library. Here are the steps we take:

  1. Instantiate your client by passing your API key.
  2. Pass the block of text you want to analyze to the chunks API call.
  3. For each chunk, check if the score (sentiment) was positive (1) or negative (-1). We’re not interested in any other values.
  4. For those chunks that do have sentiment, call the nouns API call on them and build up your list of nouns
  5. Done!

You can see how very easily you can build up a word cloud to see which terms are being associated with positive or negative sentiment. You can also do this for verbs and adjectives.

The key here is how Repustate chunks your document into relevant noun phrases. We then score each chunk and return the chunk along with it score. This is a great way to sift through the noise and get to the parts of text that contain the most relevance.

Canadian newcomers actively using social media

 “Immigrants are said to be highly motivated to understand events of the new society in addition to those within their minority circle and news of events in their home countries.  According to this ‘need to be informed’ explanation, the immigrant consumers are likely to spend more time with media than the majority.” [1]

While online users can find social media websites useful for keeping in touch with friends, family or for seeking new job opportunities, newcomers to Canada can find the networks a lifeline for cultural integration into their new society. This week I decided to explore these somewhat overlooked but important users of social media.

Ask an immigrant what their primary concern is when moving to a new country and many will tell you it’s finding a new job, and one that is similar to the work they did in their home country. Since 68 per cent of companies would hire a candidate based on their online profile on a social networking site, according to social media monitoring service Reppler, it’s extremely important for immigrants to create the right profile online when seeking that new job in the new country.

One indicator of how newcomers are flocking to the digital world is the website, an online community which is exclusively dedicated to connecting immigrants to services and groups that can help them settle. It has over 80,000 Canadian newcomer members and can be a perfect springboard for immigrants beginning to use other social networking sites which are popular in Canada but might not back in their native countries.

The site’s aims to “improve the Canadian immigration process for the millions of people involved: applicants waiting in the queue, new immigrants adjusting to life in Canada, Canadian employers waiting for skilled workers to arrive, and the many people around the world who dream of one day making Canada their home.”

With all this in mind, I decided to talk to a Canadian newcomer who is currently using social media channels to settle into a new Canuck way of life. Sandhya Ranjit is a former manager of corporate communications, from Bangalore India. She immigrated to Canada two years ago and is focused on trying to find similar work in her field.

Ranjit said in the social media arena, Ranjit has found the most success with LinkedIn for her job hunt. Two years ago, when Ranjit was working in India, she said that no one was on LinkedIn, which was launched in May 2003. She only created her profile after coming to Canada.

She doesn’t have Facebook and isn’t active on Twitter, but she likes LinkedIn for its professional feel and the fact that it generates lists of other users who she might want to connect with, and notifies her of discussions she might want to be a part of, which are relevant to her field.

Ranjit said there can be a hesitation for people of her culture to become very visible in the social media world, so they might have an initial fear of creating visible profiles on channels like Twitter. While she is very comfortable writing emails because they are a one-on-one interaction, she said a social network makes the user more visible, which some people from her culture might hesitate to do because it’s not something they do normally. But she said she has to do it because it will help her with her job search.

“We don’t come out; socially we’re not very active,” she said, adding that in Canada she hasn’t met anyone who is uncomfortable with creating social media profiles, especially the more professionally-oriented ones. “When you’re using LinkedIn for professional purposes, it’s a little different. You’re not talking about hobbies like on Facebook,” she said.

“My friends, most who are here, are also active. I’ve met so many immigrants on LinkedIn, the learning curve is the hesitation to use it,” she added.

She said that now, everyone she knows in India is active on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, but the idea of making oneself visible professionally isn’t as popular, because of the hesitation that a company might see a user’s profile and they may not like the open visibility of their employee. But she said that more people might be opening up to the idea, especially if limited the information posted.

Ranjit said she likes to use LinkedIn because she can connect to hundreds of people, which would be impossible to do in real life in the same amount of time. She said when she finally talks to them or meets them, she feels like she already knows them, which really helps with her networking efforts in trying to find a great job.

[1] Wei Na Lee and David K. Tse in their paper, “Changing Media Consumption In A New Home:  Acculturation Patterns Among Hong Kong Immigrants to Canada.”