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Social Media Analytics Tools Bulk Up

The tools banks use to monitor and analyze customer activity on social media networks are quickly expanding and adding new features.

Banks of all sizes are looking to monitor and analyze their customer interactions in social networks and turn them into what's sometimes called "actionable intelligence." As Frank Eliason, Citi's social media guru, recently told us, "People are telling you what's going on in their lives, any trouble they're having and good things that are happening, in real time and before they take other action. Before they even call, they tweet." Banks can use that intelligence to identify trends, problems that can be fixed, and products or messages that would resonate among customers. Citi uses monitoring tools including Scout Labs and Radian6.

The vendors of social media analytics tools perceive this interest (among banks and other organizations) and are expanding their products, increasing their coverage of social media sites and adding the ability to route queries to specific employees among other new capabilities.

FaceTime, which today changed its name to Actiance (an amalgam of active and compliance) reports 60% growth in adoption of its platform. It provides compliance, archival and analytics for a growing array of social media and other customer channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, instant messaging, unified communication platforms, VoIP networks including Skype, financial networks like Reuters and Bloomberg, and Web 2.0 channels such as Youtube, webmail, blogs and Wikis.

This month, SAS is adding a new social media module, SAS Conversation Center, to its Social Media Analytics product. The new module will capture relevant tweets and apply analytics to discern sentiment and influence. Tweets will be prioritized and routed to customer-facing personnel for response.

Radian6 in November added integration with business intelligence tools Google Analytics, Webtrends and Omniture, as well as expanded Twitter coverage -- it now processes in real time the entire Twitter Firehose of 90 million tweets per day -- to its popular social media analytics dashboard.

Scout Labs, which was acquired by Lithium Technologies in May, added many features to its social media monitoring platform in October, including real-time monitoring and analysis of a company's Facebook pages, comparing comments to those on other channels including Twitter, Flickr, blogs, and forums; enhanced social media data search tools; and PDF reports that can be used to share social media metrics and trends with colleagues. (Lithium's Reputation Engine also offers an interesting feature in which it automatically routes certain questions to customer experts on social networking sites and and rewards them with status markers that they can take with them to other sites).

Tibco launched a "social computing" tool yesterday called Tibbr that's designed to let organizations connect enterprise systems for real-time communication. This appears to be a platform for letting employees connect and share information, rather than a customer analytics tool.

This is by no means a complete list -- this is a fast-growing and evolving software category we'll be covering throughout the year.

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