Enterprises now have the ability to analyse and react to online discussions of their products and services on social media sites, thanks to a new tool from British search experts Autonomy.

The new Autonomy Interwoven Social Media Analysis tool - a combination of the Autonomy technology and software from its purchase of Interwoven in March - allows companies to crawl social-networking sites like Facebook for relevant information about products, analyse that information and store it in a repository that links directly to their Interwoven content-management system, said Autonomy spokesman Randy Cairns.

Companies can look at a dashboard in their content-management system that provides "visual information on the context of the chatter" about a company's product, he said, letting them know if it is positive or negative.

Web strategists and marketing professionals can then respond to that sentiment by, for example, setting a new marketing campaign to be pushed out on a website through the content-management system if the general social feeling about a product hits a certain threshold, Cairns said.

Social Media Analysis combines features of the Autonomy Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) product with the Interwoven content-management software and adds new connector technology to link the products, he added.

Autonomy, based in Cambridge, is known mostly for enterprise-search software, but also offers a set of tools for online marketers as well as other software. Its purchase of Interwoven earlier this year added a raft of content-management software to its portfolio, and the company is working to combine that with its own technology to provide new tools to customers.

Using social networks to better target online marketing and advertising campaigns is certainly a growing concern among online marketing professionals, said Suresh Vittal, a senior analyst with Forrester Research.

"Marketers recognise that word of mouth and social conversations are happening today," he said. "There is recognition that consumers control the conversations around the brand, and it behoves them to listen to this conversation."

Autonomy is certainly not the only company trying to help themselves get a better listen - others are Nielsen Buzzmetrics, Visible Technologies and TNS Symphony, Vittal said.

However, the Autonomy IDOL platform has a slight edge over other competitors because its search capabilities extend to video, he said.

IDOL technology also provides semantic search capability, which attempts to understand the relationship between the meaning of words rather than simply search for keywords, which also differentiates any new tools powered by it, he added.