Have you ever uploaded an image to Facebook, Instagram or Google+? Are you using LinkedIn to make business connections? Are you sharing links to articles and other resources that your followers may find helpful, and you as well? If you answered Yes to any of these questions, then it’s time you looked into getting a backup of your social media accounts. If one of those accounts were to be accidentally deleted or hacked, and all your data lost, how would that impact you? How would that impact your business? Just like with the data on your computer, it’s important that we have safeguards in place to protect our information and restore it in the event of a disaster. Your social network accounts are no different, so today we’re going to take a closer look at SocialSafe.
SocialSafe (http://www.SocialSafe.net) was the topic of a previous guest post (Social is more than just right now) and I recently had an opportunity to install and review it. The software is a product you can download for both Windows and Mac that will allow you to create a complete backup of your social network accounts. You will be able to get copies of all your contacts, posts, messages, images and more. With the recent developments at Instagram and so many users wanting to dump their Instagram accounts, this is particularly timely. With SocialSafe, you could download every picture you’ve ever posted to Instagram. You can download all your LinkedIn contacts. And then, once everything has been downloaded, you can view them on your computer. Because everything is downloaded to your personal computer, and not saved to the cloud, all of your data remains 100% private. Let’s walk through how to get started, and then we’ll get into more detail on some of the benefits and use cases.
Get Started With SocialSafe
First, go to http://www.SocialSafe.net and choose to download for either Windows or Mac as appropriate. Once downloaded, double-click the application to begin the installation. You can start a free trial or enter your license key if you have one. The free trial lasts 60 days, which is more than enough time to get it set up and backup all your accounts to see if it’s worthwhile for you to use.
When it first opens, there’s a great chalkboard overlay that helps identify all the important buttons and their functions. It also leads you to a series of videos that help explain how to use the product. Fortunately, it’s so easy to use the videos hardly seem necessary. And of course I chose not to read any instructions at all and just dived in. Go figure.
The Accounts page is where you’ll start, since the first thing you need to do is connect one or more social networks. You’ll see a list of “Add New Account” drop down boxes with various social networks listed under each one. I started with Facebook and one tip here is to know that as soon as you select a network, the drop down box will go away, but you need to wait a moment. Nothing happened for me initially and I thought perhaps I hadn’t clicked correctly and tried it again, and ended up opening two Facebook Connect dialogue boxes.
Each time you select a new social network, a dialogue box will pop up prompting you to log into that network and provide permission. Once accepted, that network will appear in your Accounts list and you can choose whether or not to display in your journal, and what information to sync. The sync options will vary from network to network, but may include things like connections, posts, images, messages and so on.
Don’t be confused by the appearance of “SocialSafe” logos or names on those dialogue boxes – you need to log in as yourself and each network is simply showing you that it is SocialSafe that is asking for the connection. Some of the dialogue boxes were a little unclear, but that’s from that specific network and not an issue with SocialSafe.
SocialSafe currently supports Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Viadeo, and Facebook Pages. You can choose to start with one, but I recommend going ahead and connected all of them if you have accounts.
Once you’ve connected all of your social networks, click the Sync button in the left side menu to start your first sync. If you connected all of your accounts, like I did, it may take a while. I connected all my social networks, including my Viadeo account, plus The Social Media Hat’s Facebook Page, for a total of 7 profiles. While syncing, the application is pretty occupied, but the Help area is still available, so I took their suggestion and checked out the tour.
The Help starts out with the basics, like adding more social networks, though the programs interface was pretty intuitive. The Help does point out a fantastic feature though which is that you can password-protect everything you’re now downloading. Simply click on the Settings menu and then set a password for yourself and a hint. Obviously, you’re going to want to make sure that THIS password is extremely difficult for someone else to simply guess, so don’t use any identifying personal information.
Once your sync is finished, you can go to Settings and schedule regular backups. It’s entirely up to you how often this occurs, but I felt like weekly was more than sufficient for me. While I’m very active online, I didn’t feel as though I needed to be backing up my social network activity more often than that. Here’s the part where I tell you that you should ALSO have a regular backup of your computer taking place. Since I have a Mac, I get to enjoy the built-in Time Machine and have it connected to a 1.5TB Seagate Drive to ensure that all my data is protected from catastrophic computer issues. Depending on the nature of your business and your digital information, you may also want to invest in offsite storage or online backups as well. I would be happy to advise you in this area.
Business Uses For SocialSafe
Now that you have a complete backup of all your activity across all your social networks, SocialSafe can allow you to literally go back in time and see what you did. Using the Calendar, you can choose any date in the past and see what you did online on that particular day. This could be of particular use for businesses. If you ever wanted to refer back to an older post on Facebook or Google+, previously your only option was to log in and begin scrolling through your posts in reverse chronological order. With Facebook’s Timeline you can at least get to the right month, but if you’re actively posting a lot every day, that can still take you some time to track that post down. Instead, using SocialSafe, you can go right to the date you’re looking for – or close if you’re not exactly sure which day, and see what you posted. Why bother? Maybe you shared an article that someone else wrote and now, months later, you want to refer to it again. Or maybe you created a post and got some interesting comments and feedback that you need to reference. What if a potential customer identified a problem that you can now solve, and you want to get in touch with them again, and it was through a series of comments on Google+ that the discussion took place? I can envision plenty of use scenarios for businesses. Can you?
The Journal and Photo Viewer options are nice ways for you to take a look at your activity “offline.”
Perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of this program is the Search feature. With Search, you can identify information from across all your networks simultaneously. As a business, one of our most critical assets is our contact information. As you grow your business online and have all these different social media accounts, you accumulate fans and followers on all of them, but that information isn’t applicable to every network. One person may Like you on Facebook, but not on Google+. You might have a professional connection on LinkedIn that doesn’t follow you on Twitter. With SocialSafe, it’s actually possible to see ALL of your online connections in one place, and cross-reference them. Say, for instance, you want to contact a potential customer and aren’t sure where they’re connected to you. You can Search their name in SocialSafe and choose which social network might be the most appropriate to use to reach out to them.
For some businesses and industries, it is actually a requirement that records are kept of all public announcements and messages. Using SocialSafe, these businesses can easily track all their social media posts and make sure that they conform to any legal requirements.
What’s Coming Up For SocialSafe
I spoke with Julian Ranger from SocialSafe and he was very excited about some of the developments coming up in 2013. He said, “Our aim is to help you create your personal digital library of all your social interactions which will then allow you to do more in the future. To support this we will continue to add new services, extend the data we retrieve for services and provide increasing capabilities to allow you to interact and use your library, e.g. a new insights capability and a new collections capability which are coming soon.” The Insights capability in particular is interesting, and Julian offered us an insider look at what’s coming:
Another development that’s coming soon is the ability to download data from an RSS feed, giving businesses an easy way to backup their online blog, as well as data from sources like Pinterest.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with SocialSafe. It was easy to install and easy to set up and get started. Once I had completed my first sync, I was able to browse through my history and find old posts and information quickly. I also found the application’s pricing to incredibly affordable. With my 7 accounts, I would need their “10 Account” license which is just $16.99 a year! $17 to backup every photo, every contact, every post is a steal.