Last week Microsoft announted a new Azure service designed to leverage social analytics for business intelligence applications via the cloud.
From the official release post:
Microsoft Codename "Social Analytics" Lab is an experimental cloud service that provides an API enabling developers to easily integrate relevant social web information into business applications. Also included is a simple browsing application to view the social stream and the kind of analytics that can be constructed and integrated in your application.
Adobe's Online Marketing Suite makes similar promises, but Microsoft claims to dig deeper into the quantitative value of tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, and other social-media content, using their own proprietary 'sentiment engine'. It's not yet clear how this engine works -- one existing approach, taken by textir (a toolkit the open-source Data Journalism Developer's Studio already uses), focuses on dimensional reduction by inverse regression methods (theory pdf here) -- but whatever the mathematical details, the API is designed to be maximally developer-friendly.
Non-developers can access multi-sourced social media streams via the 'Engagement Client':
and developers can read the full API documentation here.