I can’t think of any other business that might be as paper record retention intense as the mortgage business. Yet, with the world moving more and more in an online direction, does your business have a social media record retention policy?

That is a very pertinent question posed by Marshall Stevens, the co-owner of Stevens and Stevens Business Records Management, Tampa, Fla. He said most businesses in general do not have a social media component to their record retention policy.

"Whether it's an email, post or tweet, businesses need to get a handle on the information being created on social networking platforms. Without a policy in place for maintaining social media activity, companies can compromise their compliance efforts or be unprepared for a records audit or other legal action," he said.

There are several things to consider in creating a social media record retention plan, Stevens said. These are:

  • Know your data. Identify the types of information your company creates. Social media content (email, posts, blogs, tweets, etc.) should be given the same consideration as traditional business communications.
  • Keep records of social media content. Developing a comprehensive log of customer communications can provide useful information for future decision making.
  • Build a social media archiving policy. Electronic records are held to the same retention standards as traditional records. Online content, including social media, may be requested in e-discovery, court cases or audit situations.
  • A retention policy is only as effective as its implementation. Policies should be easy to follow and include periodic audits. Review policies on an ongoing basis to allow for changes in technology.

As businesses utilize social media tools to interact and connect with customers, they can't afford to postpone updating their record retention policies," said Stevens. "Companies that underestimate the importance of maintaining these records, run the risk of not being in compliance as corporate use of social media continues to grow."