Marshall Sponder is the founder of WebMetricsGuru and author of Social Media Analytics. He's teaching a 1 day Social Media Monitoring training course in London next Thursday, 26th January.

There's certainly a lot of change in social analytics as we begin 2012 - and some of the "hottest" platforms to follow are among those you probably never heard of. I’ll run through some of these here, but if you come to my Social Media Monitoring Training in London on 26th January (hosted by Our Social Times) you'll hear the "lowdown" on these platforms and others, and learn how you can use them to advance your business.

1. VenueLabs - Venuelabs.com is a dashboard that listens to Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla and CitySearch for brand mentions and delivers insight that you can look at by location and history. The platform identifies specific customers / fans with influence or specific views on your business.

2. Recorded Future - Most people don't realize it yet, but most monitoring platforms are absolutely useless as predictors of what people will say and do next day, next week, next month, or whenever.  As something more innovative, I did a webinar with Recorded Future a few weeks ago that covers the full gamut of what The Recorded Future can do for you and it's my favorite webinar to date that I've done, I hope you all listen to it in full.

3. InfiniGraph - InfiniGraph tackles social analytics from a different perspective than anyone else I've come across.  Instead of trying to monitor what people are saying about your brand, or a brand you’re interested in, InfiniGraph tracks the interests of your Facebook and Twitter fans. Smaller organisations won’t find it that useful, but if you’re a bigger brand and have a ton of followers and friends then Infinigraph could be really useful. Luke Brynley-Jones explained how Infinigraph can be used for “social media amplification” on his blog earlier this week.

4. 6Degree - You probably never heard of 6Degree, but you will, pretty soon. 6Degree is an Australian Analytics platform that is going international, and has evolved a "persona" tracking approach and applied it to social media monitoring and analytics.  The founders of 6Degree have apparently been inspired, partly, by my thoughts on audience segmentation, and built persona modelling around my ideas. I’ll be doing some demos of 6Degree in my London class.  Others will see in it politics, mark my words.

5. PeekAnalytics - PeekAnalytics take a different approach than 6Degree. It uses up to 30 different sources of information to verify a person's identity and interests and also does ‘persona segmentation’. One thing I can see PeekAnalytics being used for is detecting the real nature of someone's followers, including if they are real or ‘bots’. I see this being a growing field of interest as social media becomes more competitive. I'm on the PeekYou Advisory Board so I get to see all the neat stuff PeekYou is cooking up on a regular basis.

6. SoDash - I'm going to be meeting with SoDash soon but I want to share some exciting capabilities of this geo-location platform. SoDash uses artificial intelligence to “generate leads, manage your brand, watch the competition and look after your customers”. The artificial intelligence handles the workflow automatically, which makes it very intuitive. It can handle multilingual messaging (and will translate any message for you) and can be configured to search for messages search by location (down to postcode).

So there you have it, 6 monitoring platforms that are under most people's radar that could have profound impact for your campaigns and branding efforts in 2012.  Join me in London on 26th January where I'll give you a deeper dive than anyone has ever had outside the labs of these platforms.  You’ll also walk away with a free copy of my book, to boot!

Marshall has kindly offered We Are Social readers a 10% discount on the Social Media Monitoring training price, by entering the discount code “WAS10” when buying a ticket directly from their website.