Companies recognize the value of social media as a marketing and brand management tool, as well as a customer service and support channel, says research firm Frost & Sullivan. Social media is also becoming a core consumer and business-user forum. As a result, social media analytics is emerging as a popular tool to measure social-site traffic, but more important, to obtain meaningful, actionable and timely insights, the firm says.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan's “Analyzing Customers' Social Voices” research finds the most important trend in social media analytics is cross-channel integration. Organizations are starting to integrate social media analytics with speech, text and Web analytics to cover all customer touchpoints.

"Social media analytics can uncover unique or otherwise difficult to obtain information on consumer behavior and the broader market," Brendan Read, Frost & Sullivan information and communication technologies industry analyst, said in a statement. "It is gaining further acceptance as companies execute omni-channel strategies to provide a consistent, high quality, profitable customer experience across channels."

Social media analytics is also used by businesses to shape other corporate functions that affect marketing and customer services, such as network security, the report says. For example, banking and insurance companies are listening for signs of fraud and hacking, such as when individuals brag on social media about duping a particular company or cracking its network security.

Social media budgets remain small, Frost & Sullivan says, as enterprises do not yet fully understand the value of social analytics.