Demo: Needium upgrades Twitter-monitoring service to help merchants find customers

The next time you post a tweet saying you’re hungry, you might be surprised to see a response in your @ reply stream, offering you a discount at the pizza joint down the block.

Needium, a “social media customer discovery platform,” could make that possible. The company announced an upgrade to its service today at Demo Fall 2011, a product showcase in Silicon Valley.

The company monitors and filters social media to look for tweets relevant to its customers’ businesses. Those customers are usually small businesses and merchants who are eager for real-time, local intelligence about potential customers. When Needium finds a matching tweet, its community managers respond on behalf of the matching merchant, creating a conversation and hopefully roping in a new customer.

Thanks to the geographic data embedded in many tweets, the company is already indexing a vast amount of local data: more than 400,000 tweets per day in Boston, over half a million in Toronto and upwards of 1 million tweets per day in the Los Angeles area.

Needium estimates that about 10 to 15% of local tweets are related to food, entertainment or travel needs. For example, every day:

  • more than 500 people in Los Angeles tweet “I’m hungry”
  • more than 300 people in Atlanta tweet that they have a headache
  • 25 people in Washington, D.C. complain about their wisdom teeth
  • dozens of people in Toronto tweet that they need to clean their their house, room or car
  • more than 30 people in New York tweet about being locked out of their home, car or apartment

The company says that its Ruby-based platform can scale to handle the complete firehouse of Twitter updates, while its real-time indexing layer can process tens of thousands of messages per second in a distributed architecture. Activities streams are exposed in an internal, JSON-based API on a Ruby on Rails stack, which also handles the application logic. The company says it will soon make this API available to external developers.

Customers access Needium via an HTML5 and CSS3-powered browser-based dashboard, which will also form the basis of future desktop and mobile apps.

Needium was founded in 2007 and currently has 16 employees. It has raised $3 million in funding to date from St. Lawrence Capital. The company is based in Montreal.

Needium is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2011 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.