Company Taps Cisco to Monitor Social Networks

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The CEO of a food and supplement company catering to the popular Zone diet was struggling to find a way to keep up with everything that's being said about his company on social networks.

It was just all too much.

Even with three customer service reps spending half their time monitoring social networks like Facebook , Twitter and various forums, they couldn't track everything that was being said about Zone Labs, a 70-employee company based in Massachusetts.

Petter Etholm, CEO of Zone Labs, said they basically were lost in a sea of information. "We didn't have a good tool to listen and learn what our customers... were saying about us in the social media space ," he added.

"It is important because the conversations in that world are rapidly increasing and it's an area where we need to pay attention so we can respond either to people who don't like us or who do like us," he said. "It's a difficult area because it's brand new."

So, last spring Etholm turned to Cisco to help solve his problem.

Zone Labs became a beta tester of Cisco's SocialMiner software, which is designed to help companies find and respond to customers communicating in social networking sites.

The software, which was released on Wednesday, monitors status updates, blogs and posts on sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogging sites.

Etholm said SocialMiner has been a game-changer for Zone Labs. "Without this tool, it was very difficult," he said. "We would sort of catch whatever we could catch, but it required someone constantly paying attention to each social media space."

"I know for us, a lot of things slipped through the cracks that we didn't get to," he said. "Now, [SocialMiner] is saving us man-hours and we respond to customers in a much better way."

Etholm said that he no longer needs three employees to spend half their time monitoring social networking sites. Using SocialMiner, one person now spends half their time on it.

Cisco is throwing a lot of its muscle behind social networking and collaborative efforts these days.

This past summer, Cisco announced that it is taking social networking to the enterprise with its upcoming Web-based collaboration platform, dubbed Quad.

Out now in limited release, Quad is designed to pull together Facebook-like update posts, instant messaging, document sharing, video communication, microblogging and communities for enterprise users.

Ashley McCann, a spokeswoman for Cisco, said SocialMiner will be able to be used within Quad but neither one will be dependent on the other.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Company Taps Cisco to Monitor Social Networks" was originally published by Computerworld.

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