2012: social analytics for the rest of us
Until recently, large-scale social media analytics and large-scale user testing and was only done by large companies.
In 2012, expect many of these capabilities to become available to individual users - for relatively low rates (which means soon it will be free.)
Google pioneered with this Google Trends, Google Insights for Search, and Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics) which since 2006 offered free in-depth analytics on an individual web site or blog.
According to one analysis, Google Analytics is now used on %50 of top 1,000,000 web sites. (Google Analytics Market Share. 2010-08-21.)
Google Trends and Insights were unique in allowing all of to see certain kinds trends as expressed by massive amounts of social data. In contrast, most other current offerings only allow you to analyze trends related to your own social product (web site, blog, Facebook page, YouTube video) performance.
For an example, see Facebook insights which "provides Facebook Page owners and Facebook Platform developers with metrics around their content."
And here is an example of user testing analytics - again, for your design:
Solidify (solidifyapp.com) is offering a few applications for web designers Verify is "the fastest way to collect and analyze user feedback on screens or mockups. See where people click, what they remember, or how they feel." Solidify is "the quickest way to prototype interface screens for user testing feedback. Learn where people get confused by page interactions."
This trend is not going to change overnight. However, more tools are coming and at least some of them promise free or almost free social analytics based on everybody's data:
Twitter "will unveil a series of new tools in the next few months, including sophisticated analytical tools, according to Erica Anderson, Twitter's manager for news and journalism." "Going forward, Anderson expects to see more people using Twitter to predict behaviors by analyzing wide swaths of tweets. She did not make it clear if the new analytical tools will include some features aimed at spotting trends. "The predictive nature of Twitter is still largely untapped," she said." (source: ReadWriteWeb, January 29, 2012.)
Socialflow (socialflow.com)is "Optimized Publisher for Twitter and Facebook. Publish items at the precise moments when they will maximize clicks, Retweets, mentions and follower growth. Use the SocialFlow AttentionScore™ to derive more value from your content."
Also, check out this experts discussion business-oriented trends in social analytics offerings.