According to a Sentiment Analysis And Social Media MonitoringSolution RFP, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has decided that it is time for the Fed to "join the conversation" and begin monitoring what is being said about it on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. As traditional media has increasingly lost significant influence over the masses - particularly the younger masses, the Fed appears to be interested in what is happening among the "mass of niches," a term used by Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail.
According to the Request for Proposal ("RFP"), the Fed is looking for social media vendors that can assist the Fed in achieving the following:
A. Geographic Scope of Social Media Sites: support content coming from different countries and geographical regions.
B. Content and Data Types: the solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube. It must also be able to aggregate data from various media outlets such as: CNN, WSJ, Factiva, etc.
C. Reports and Metrics: the solution must provide real-time monitoring of relevant conversations. It should provide sentiment analysis (positive, negative or neutral) around key conversational topics. It must be able to provide summaries or high level overviews of a specific set of topics. It should have a configurable dashboard that can easily be accessed by internal analysts or management. The dashboard must support customization
by user or group access. The solution should provide an alerting mechanism that automatically sends out reports or notifications based a predefined trigger.
It looks like the Fed has been watching, listening and learning relative to the power of social media. As things have gotten dicey for the Fed during this difficult economic period, it seems the Fed would like to play a larger role in understanding what is being said in order to develop an appropriate response.
Of course, anytime the Fed does anything out of the ordinary there will be conspiracy theorists jumping to action. For example, why is the Fed seeking to monitor Fed-related conversations of bloggers and others? Is it to quiet the dissent?! Most likely it is for the same reasons Citibank, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and other large multinational financial organizations as well as much smaller banks are doing it...to head off trouble through a social media-based early warning system and create brand value. Social media is a powerful tool for any size organization. If it's good for bankers why not central bankers.
It will be interesting to see how the Fed ultimately uses social media monitoring. Will it take advantage of the lessons learned to-date by banks and other businesses or will it assume the rules do not apply to it and create a public disaster of this opportunity. We'll see.