Sentiment Analysis and How Banks Use Social Media

The social media realm can at times seem like a frivolous place full of out-of-focus photos and posts about what your friends ate for breakfast. But for businesses, it can also be a cash cow thanks to the sheer number of people you can reach with something as simple as a tweet.

Facebook recently announced that a billion people — one in seven in the world — use the social network, and 60 percent of Americans log on to some form of social media, according to a study released Friday by the Pew Research Center.

This week on New Tech City, WNYC business reporter Ilya Marritz investigates how traders are crunching millions of data points from Twitter and other sources in the hope of generating serious money.

It's a growing field of research known as "sentiment analysis," where investors analyze messages posted on social media and headlines on news sites to help determine how to invest.

Then, New Tech City host speaks with Mark Schwanhausser, an analyst with Javelin Strategy and Research who studies how banks are using social media for branding, marketing and replying to customer complaints.

He says big U.S. banks have been slow to develop a social media presence compared to other American businesses in part because of their "locked down" culture.

"Banks are ones that like to control the message," Schwanhausser said. "And when you start putting things out onto social media, on Facebook and Twitter for instance, you lose that control."