College students aspiring to work on Wall Street will be flocking to Dayton, Ohio this week for the RISE student-investment conference (Redefining Investment Strategy Education), where they will get to put their investment savvy to the test and meet some experienced Wall Streeters and other financial professionals. Before the conference, we asked them what they thought the role of social media will be for the future of Wall Street. Here's what they said.
What do you think the role of social media will be in Wall Street's future? How do you use social media now? Do you see yourself using it in the future for trading?
Stock prices are driven largely by mass psychology. Social media enhances people's ability to share opinions and news on a large scale. As more individuals join social networks, be that Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, their role in spreading information will increase. Market information will be more easily shared amongst consumers of social media, decreasing the time it takes for potential investors to react to changing conditions. Simultaneously, the reaction time of potential investors to opinions will decrease. If there are rumors surrounding a stock or other investment and no factual information to check them with, social media users will consume the rumors as a substitute for fact. The mass psychology of the investing community will be more heavily dictated by social media. Going forward, I see myself relying on social media for trading matters more.
— Shane Kennedy, University of Michigan-Dearborn
It will attract more high-frequency trading firms
Social media's emerging impact is changing the way we traders think about the market. Complex social media firms pay Twitter for its access to streams of data, and use text-analysis programs to interpret the millions of tweets. As the growth of social media develops, it will certainly, if not already, catch the attention of more high-frequency trading firms. Firms are able to capitalize on social trends moving the market, and detect instability that could throw off their complex algorithms. Very recently, the Associated Press's Twitter feed was hacked by the, "The Syrian Electronic Army." This "Twitter Attack" spurred a 140-point drop in the Dow, resulting in an estimated $200 billion loss in U.S. Stock market value. As algorithmic trading continues to develop, we will no longer fear volatile unwanted spikes in the market.
As a freshman in college, my Twitter use comes in many different forms. My Twitter feed ranges from "Squawkbox" in the morning, to "Collegefessions" in the afternoon, and usually Jim Cramer's Twitter advice by the end of the trading day. I find myself to be unlike most young adults using twitter for gossip and monitoring celebrities, but rather for information. Twitter is my quick connection to articles from my favorite websites, while also providing news updates in 140 characters or less.
If the market information on social media continues to be as strong as it is now, I would unquestionably use the information to trade. Sifting hundreds of millions of tweets throughout the day will help us understand market direction and sentiment. Our millennial culture is becoming more dependent of social media, and less dependent on any other forms of media. As the culture of communication changes, so will the future of trading.
— Casey Barry, Fairfield University
It can be positive — look at Carl Icahn
While I would never personally take trading advice over social media, I expect circulation-based "stock pickers" like The Motley Fool and others to use social media to attempt to attract a wider, younger audience. I find many of these circulations to be predatory in nature, especially those with headlines that read, "10 Hot Penny Stocks to Buy before They Triple." Penny stocks are dangerous enough to begin with; the last thing we need are more people trying to push these risky stocks on thrill-seeking gamblers who want to make up for decades of lost savings.
I also expect social media to be used in relatively positive ways in the future. Carl Icahn, among others, has already embraced social media outlets, including Twitter, to announce activist positions in companies. I believe that Twitter will continue to be a tool for activists to announce positions in short snippets, similar to that of breaking news headlines. The SEC will have to be proactive at declaring the legality and appropriateness of announcing positions informally in this manner. However, I believe that the majority of famous investors and investment firms will continue to use more formal outlets to announce positions in companies.
— Thomas L. Carr, Loras College
Social media: A hard line to walk
About a year ago, the SEC gave the full go ahead for companies to use social media as long as they make it clear to investors they plan to use them. These blasts of information are like news releases — except they have more opportunity to spread quickly. This means the casual investor can react quickly to move a stock.
While we shouldn't forget about the problems social media can create (like the Syrian Electronic Army's twitter hack that sent markets tumbling), social media connects companies with consumers, fostering good will and relationships with consumers.
Social media is also a powerful tool for consumers. Just as a company can use it effectively to gain goodwill, a bad move by them can spread fast and hurt a company. Its going to be a hard line to walk for firms in the future.
I don't use a lot of social media to track Wall Street. I currently rely on RSS feeds to keep up during the day. However, in the future, I may make a separate Twitter account for following companies as another avenue of keeping up.
— Mike Brienza, Rowan University
The key will be 'legitimacy of the information'
As social media continues to influence our everyday lives, I believe it'll play a major role in Wall Street's future. I don't believe social platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) will exactly be used as trading platforms (i.e. Fidelity, Scottrade). However, the transfer and sharing of information is important to consider.
News travels fast, and today's social media platforms bring a whole new meaning to this concept. The rate of speed that information can travel continues to exponentially increase. As information travels about certain public companies, this certainly effects market movement as people buy/sell based off of said information. A major issue we'll face is the legitimacy of the information. This can have positive and or negative effects, depending on what exactly is being said.
— Jarrod Smith, Suffolk University
Sorry, it's no Bloomberg terminal
It's hard to see anything besides Bloomberg terminals as a way to trade. Social media provides a good flow of information, which is exactly how I use Twitter. Twitter is my personalized news feed. I, personally, do not see myself using social media to trade.
— Rushi Parikh, Ball State University