Investing in the stock market is equivalent to rocket science: it’s not for novices. But once you get a grasp of the fundamentals and understand the basic tenets of investment (never piggyback, don’t invest with borrowed money etc.), you are good to go. That said, it can still be very difficult to know which stock to invest in, when to buy, and when to sell.
If you plan on investing in stock you should always be on top of the happenings in the verticals you are interested in. Sure, there are plenty of business channels on TV, friendly stock brokers, financial websites etc. But it’s always good to know what your peers are suggesting, in real time. Today, let us take a look at StockTwits, one of the best known financial apps on the Twitter platform.
StockTwits is a financial idea network that works round the clock, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It is a community of traders and investors sharing market insight, ideas, charts and news streaming in real time. StockTwits works by pulling in Tweets with stock tickers marked with $ signs, such as $AAPL, and then mixes these with financial tools and analysis that’s unique to the network. Investment pros and beginners can share their thoughts about stocks through the global business day, and with integration with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you can share your thoughts with anyone you want.
To get started with this free web app, sign up or just use your existing Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts to skip this process (or so they claim). In reality, I was asked to fill in the same sign up form even after the integration. The good thing is, all account validations occur over OAuth, so you don’t have to worry about your security.
Quick Disclaimer: We’re taking a look at StockTwits from the perspective of an average user that’s interested in stocks. We’re not professional investors, and most of us are best off leaving our cash in a savings account. Use your own judgement when using any tool for financial or investment info!
Ease of Use
Though I was a bit grumpy after a tricky sign up process, I was glad to see that StockTwits immediately got into business. In about four steps (clearly laid out with descriptions), you should be ready to tackle your new found financial investment tool.
Once you’ve created your account, the second step is where you get to find the stocks you are planning to invest in. You can start searching with either the company name or the symbol and select from the list of auto suggestions. I found the Trending Stocks (the ones most mentioned in StockTwits by users) to be a great place discover companies that are hot right now.
In the third step, you define what kind of investor you are. Starting from your experience with trading stocks, asset classes you trade (equities, bonds, futures etc.), and your investment approach and investment period, you can paint a clear picture about your financial background here. This helps like minded users to discover and follow you.
Defining Your Profile
In the fourth and final step, StockTwits suggests some of the popular people to follow. Each profile displayed carries the number of followers they have and the number of ideas and shares they follow to make an informed decision.
For a financial investment tool, StockTwits is very intuitive and unbelievably easy to use. I was half expecting the dashboard to be plastered with ads, but to my delight, it wasn’t. The user interface has a simple three column layout. If you ignore the third column that suggests more users to follow, much of the action is on the left and the center columns.
Ideas form the core of StockTwits. They are basically tweets with a ticker symbol of the stock (with a mandatory $ prefix) attached to them. Ideas from the users you follow can be tracked from the stream in the center column. Since this is a real time stream, ideas might ebb and flow based on market conditions. Hence, use the pause option to read all ideas before jumping in. When you’re ready to share your opinion, you can enter a 140 character message including a stock ticker with a $ prefix, and then share it on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
To get a comprehensive idea about a particular stock, click on the ticker symbols from the stream or search for them. All ideas (tweets) pertaining to the particular company are displayed for your assimilation. To make things more precise, a detailed chart indicating the daily, weekly and monthly performance of the stock is displayed as well.
Stock Details Screen
With each idea you can add a short URL to help others or ask a question elaborately. If you have a technical chart, do add it from the dedicated Charts tab. That way, all charts are consolidated and showcased in the Charts section. If you know your way around the stock market, then the Charts section should be a goldmine that can help you know how to invest based on past performance. All charts are neatly tagged with usernames and are tucked away in their relevant categories.
For those who want to tap into the knowledge base of experts, there is the premium marketplace. Pay a subscription (some of them are hefty) on a monthly or annual basis to gain access to the premium blog feeds and news sources. Almost all feeds come with a 7 day free trial, so try them before paying up!
Stepping back from the perspective of an app reviewer, I find StockTwits to be an amazing example of a social app built on top of Twitter. As a wannabe developer, I am pretty sure the web app covers elegantly, one of the holes of the Twitter platform and is not going be banned anytime soon! It’s a bit sad that the web app doesn’t cover stocks outside USA, but still as an app enthusiast and wanna be app developer, StockTwits is a very interesting social experiment that every investor should try.
Disclaimer: As amazing the app might be, I strongly advice you to exercise caution while investing based on the ideas from people you don’t know, including myself (especially me!). Always use your wisdom, acumen ,and research skills, and use apps like StockTwits to confirm/reinforce your findings.
Share Your Thoughts!
Where do you get your financial advice from? How much weightage will you give an investment idea from a person you don’t know?