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Flood of online media leads to niche ‘listening platforms’

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To keep tabs on clients and competitors, many businesses rely on a handful of Google (s goog) alerts and Twitter feeds. But this is becoming harder as the digital din — in the form of social media, blogs and news sites — grows ever louder.

This has led to the emergence of “listening platforms” such as Radian6 which allow companies to plug into a wealth of social media analytics to spot trends and monitor their brands. The services offer insights but also relieve companies of the burden of having to monitor dozens of topics in dozens of places.

Now, the early success of one firm, Manzama, suggests that the market may  be ready for niche listening platforms that are calibrated for specific industries.

Manzama is tailored for law firms, charging them $20,000-$90,000 per year for a “business intelligence platform” catered to their specializations.

“It scours through thousands of social news sources to uncover info that lawyers care about,” said Manzama CEO Peter Ozolin.

Law firms that use the service configure it by flagging client names and legal or business issues. The service then uses that data to scrape news and social media sites, and present all that information on a single screen.

The data can also provide business development opportunities, says Ozolin. He gives the example of a law firm that discovered personal injury lawyers were trolling social media sites to find “victims” to sue a certain company. The law firm was able to give that company a head’s up — and gain its business.

As social media continues to grow and splinter, the market for “listening platforms” is likely to grow as well. Salesforce (s crm) bought Radian6 last year in order to bolster its social analytics capacity. Going forward, it remains to be seen how a big a role there will be for niche “listeners.” So far, Manzama is the only specialty site for professionals, raising the question of whether doctors, accountants or architects will come to desire custom-built listening platforms too.

(Image by Annette Sheff via Shutterstock)