Tech startup cuts through social media noise for drug and device outfits

LiquidGrids has emerged recently with tech that crawls the vast social media universe and picks up health-related conversations, with the hope that major pharma and device companies will want to pay to hear what the company's system has gathered about specific topics. 

The La Jolla, CA-based company today says it has widely released its software platform, which captures some 2 million posts per day about human health from social web hotspots such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube as well as the blogosphere, founder and CEO Malcolm Bohm told FierceBiotech IT. The system tracks the posts of some 10 million online avatars (which include people's Twitter accounts or Facebook pages) and can tell its clients, without identifying the actual names behind the avatars, the stage of disease, age, gender, location and social influence of an individual.

LiquidGrids' Social Health Knowledge Base platform even accounts for sick people who stink at spelling. While the system tracks nearly a half million health-related terms (think disease and drug names), it tracks 9.2 million misspellings of those words, Bohm said. 

Based on the data the platform picks up, the startup's customers can conduct ad campaigns that reflect the flavor of conversations being had by their target audience online, and LiquidGrids has an engagement product that enables its clients to direct its online messages to specific people. For instance, the startup is working with a device company called Inogen, which sells oxygen products and wants to reach patients suffering from chronic lung disease. While many of its target patients aren't participating in social networks, Bohm said, their family members and caregivers could be.

"This is the only place [where] the entirety of social media dialogue, end-to-end, A through Z, soup-to-nuts, is held in one place," Bohm told FierceBiotech IT.

LiquidGrids, of course, isn't the only outfit capitalizing on biopharma companies' interest in listening to social media buzz. Semantelli, for one, offers life sciences companies the ability to eavesdrop on online conversations. Also, a unit of India-based tech company Infosys ($INFY) and Fabric Worldwide have developed a system to pick up on trends in social media dialogue, with London-based drug giant GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) recently signing a multimillion-dollar deal to tap the platform to aid its promotions, Reuters reported.

Bohm, who founded the company in December 2010 and raised $1.25 million from angels last year, said that it's too soon to present data on how effective his company's system is, but it has some major deals in the pipeline that might help validate its approach to helping players in the healthcare arena gather intelligence from the social media realm. The company was previously called Swarmology as recently as November, Xconomy reported, and LiquidGrids has since refined its technology.

- here's the company's release
- see Xconomy's article