Saturday, August 27, 2011

Social Media in the Cloud

Here are some random musings as I wait for IRENE amidst the clouds and rain… and realize how to use Word simply to create my post for blogspot and yet retain style control... but now on to the post itself.

Most people don’t need to care and couldn’t find out anyway where their Facebook page is in the cloud. They just click on the link facebook/myfacebookname and voila: It’s there, ready for me to read my wall messages, upload some more pictures, or divulge personal information.

If however, you’re contemplating creating a corporate social media system like Facebook (whether inside or outside the firewall), cloud-based storage is appealing. If employees flock to it and upload vacation videos, you may need more storage than you expected and you can scale up rapidly. There is far less need for creating a complex infrastructure if you lease the cloud-space.

Cloud-based social systems outside the firewall can provide a myriad of benefits: Keeping closer to constituents, gauging outsider sentiments of corporate performance, and as a great public relations tool – especially in the face of a disaster such as the BP Oil Spill.

There are some concerns to consider before embarking on such a social media project however. As with any cloud-based application, know your vendor and consider vendor continuity. Is the vendor financially secure? And even if secure, how do you get your application (and more importantly, all your data) should the vendor get acquired and the new owner decides to eliminate that service?  How will your system be backed up, and –if you want to pick up your social marbles and go elsewhere—what format will you get your data in? Will you get both the content and the information about the content? Metadata can be as important as the content it describes.

If you share the cloud space, can you guarantee privacy (if needed) and maintain control over the application and data? Can you assure that you can put sections “on hold” if you receive a formal eDiscovery request for information? Suddenly that fun social media becomes “Electronically Stored Information,” and you will have to decide which constitute records you cannot destroy and maintain free of changes. Of course this assumes you considered the records retention aspect of that media to begin with.

It is hard to decide which is more challenging: Setting up the social media application in the cloud, or  deciding governance policies to oversee the cloud content.  I guess that’s why they call it cloudy.