As I wrote earlier this year, social channels are repositories of siloed information just as often as traditional enterprise applications, if not more so. After all, with enterprise applications, companies recognize the need to integrate different data streams, have been cracking away on the problem for years and have enlisted support from vendors.
A holistic view of customers and their social media activities is something that even companies lauded for their social media mastery, like Dell, haven't yet been able to attain. When I interviewed Dell Chief Blogger Lionel Menchaca for a story about corporate blogging, he told me the biggest challenges around a broad social media strategy involved connecting the various channels, both to "bring content from all of our channels to different audiences as it becomes relevant to them" and to help Dell plumb the decentralized content for insights. And, he added, it's tough simply making time to devote to multiple channels.
Jeremiah Owyang, the former Forrester Research analyst who is now with the Altimeter Group, suggested more companies would begin aggregating various social content streams on their corporate websites to address the first issue.
A number of startups are popping up to help companies with the second and third issues. A ClickZ article describes how The Roger Smith Hotel in New York City uses a social media management service called Revinate to monitor comments about it and its competitors on various sites, especially those like TripAdvisor that feature customer reviews of properties. Revinate, which specializes in the hospitality industry, also alerts managers when a posted review scores below a preset rating threshold, lets them respond to reviews from the Revinate dashboard and creates workflows so that customer complaints can be routed to different areas such as housekeeping or front desk.
The Roger Smith seems a little more social media savvy than many other hotels. It has a director of social hospitality and offers special Twitter deals through Revinate's TweetConcierge client.
Data collected by Revinate doesn't just benefit the marketing staff. The general manager of another Revinate client, a Kimpton hotel called Events, distributes information from Revinate reports to encourage competition and camaraderie among staff.
Writing on GigaOm, Matthew Ingram highlights another startup called Swift River that employs software developed in 2008 for Ushahidi to monitor social channels for information about unrest in Kenya. Emergency personnel working disasters including the earthquake in Haiti also use Ushahidi. When workers in Haiti were inundated with information, Swift River developers created a semantic processing engine to help filter the messages and suppress duplicative content, cross-chatter and inaccuracies.
According to Ingram, Swift River will release a beta next month. Startup Flipboard, which created a content reader for the iPad, just purchased The Ellderdale Project, which provides a service similar to Swift River.