Tuesday, 2 March 2010

A word of caution using third party social media tools

Third party social media tools can be a double edged sword. On the one hand they get you up and running quickly, with little or zero up front expenses, and little if any technical knowledge. On the other hand, you are placing your content in the hands of a third party supplier without the benefit of a contract to safe guard yourself.

Google's blogging tool Blogger (used by me on this very blog) recently closed down several music sites without warning, and thus not giving the user any time to backup their blog. All the blogs that Google closed were operating legitimately under Blogger's own Terms and Conditions.

Google is not alone in closing down sites in this way. Yahoo closed down its photo hosting service back in July 2007, giving its users only three months to claim their photos before Yahoo purged the site.

While these sorts of actions may be rare, they still cause a great deal of frustration and inconvenience when they do. So it is worth asking yourself the question "How would I recreate my online social media presence if my social media supplier withdrew its services?"

Whether you host your own social media applications or not, your social media content should be backed up. In the event of a disaster, you should be able to recover your content back to its previous state, whether you do this using the original social media tool or not.

If you are using the Google Blogger tool (like I do), then you can export your blog directly from within the blog editor (once logged in, go to Settings and the option for exporting your blog is at the top). Most blog editors will have a similar feature.

Also, you can save the raw XML feed from your blog. To save the latest 1000 feeds for my own blog I would need to enter http://www.domburf.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?max-results=1000 into my browser.

So it's worth investigating what facilities your social media tool has for allowing you to backup your content.

And don't delay, do it today!

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