Analysis of social media by Meltwater Buzz reveals an impressive performance by Amazon versus its technology rivals in the last quarter of 2011.

The online retailer led online sentiment during the period, ahead of Google, Apple, Facebook and RIM.

However, Amazon accounted for only a small proportion of online buzz, with Facebook dominating conversations. 

Online retailer Amazon experienced a surge in online buzz as the Christmas season approached, coupled with the launch of its Kindle Fire tablet. Online discussions about Amazon generated four times as much positive buzz as negative, although reaction to the Kindle Fire was more evenly split.

70 percent of online discussions around the five chosen brands, meanhile, focused on Facebook. The ongoing debate over the social networking site's privacy policies emerged again with the hacking of Mark Zuckerberg’s personal profile.

In December, the website also prepared to launch its eagerly-awaited Facebook Timeline user interface, generating a surge in online interest as expectations ran high. Response to the launch was eventually mixed.

Facebook's online dominance could not, though, overshadow the biggest news story of them all - the sad death of Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs. Twitter was subsequently swamped with the trending hashtag #thankyousteve.

Also in October, Apple launched its latest iPhone, sparking initial disappointment among online audiences, which eventually turned into a more positive reaction.

The main event for Google was the public rollout of its Google+ social networking service. Online reaction was largely positive, with users particularly impressed with Google+ Pages, representing a triumph for a brand that has struggled with its social networking strategy.

It was a considerably more downbeat story at Blackberry maker RIM, where a service outage denied email to millions of its users. Predictably, social media sentiment was negative, exacerbated by RIM's fumbling response to the crisis.