Hash tags and dollar signs: key symbols of online communication

The idea was simple enough: create a Twitter-style mobile application geared towards the financial sector. StockTwits, as it was envisioned three years ago, would allow industry professionals to access the quickest and most recent market information from their smart phones.

Similarly to Twitter, users post instant messages and up-to-the-second market information, using dollar signs instead of hash tags to categorise topics and trends. StockTwits is all about money, and the concept is catching on fast.

A recent Mashable article described the meteoric rise to internet success enjoyed by StockTwits since its inception. The company has raised $8.6 million in funding, and hopes to become the Facebook of finance. It has roughly 100,000 users, and recently launched a new investor relations (IR) version targeting investor relations professionals at Fortune 500 companies.

StockTwits is part of a growing web 2.0 segment called social trading, which offers a new way of analysing financial data.

Online financial trading companies have exploited the popularity of the new social networking channels, using real-time trading posted by social trading networks into their investment processes. The StockTwit IR Suite comprises three components.

A Verified Ticker Page, which allows corporations to assume control of their ticker symbol on StockTwits and put their best faces forward with links to their blogs, YouTube channels or SlideShare presentations.

The Social Dashboard, where IR professionals manage their corporate social messaging and track how their messages are spreading.

Social Distribution, which offers users a simple way to push each message out to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, along with financial portals such as CNNMoney, Reuters and Yahoo Finance.

Targeted social media sites are revolutionising the online marketplace, and the trend is not limited to finance—bankers, lawyers and real estate professionals are also benefiting. In the inaugural edition of MORE Vision, we looked at how the real estate industry is using Twitter to connect with friends, fans and followers. Now, it seems there are also rewards to be reaped through more specialised social networking tools.

The targeted approach is attracting quite a crowd—real estate giants Brookfield and the Simon Property group have already joined 50 public companies in signing on with StockTwits, alongside managed funds such as ING Clarion Global Real Estate Income Fund and iShares FTSE NAREIT Real Estate 50 adding the newest suite to their IR departments’ workflow. Will your company follow suit?

Top image credit : Photobank gallery

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