Finding an edge on social media: from Japanese traders to flight deal hounds
Everybody’s online, and more and more, everyone has access to the same information. So when something is scarce –a cheap flight fare, an opportunity to cash in on a stock market spike, or an online deal– you can count on a crowd to swoop in and try and snag it
Just like stock traders on Wall Street (or these days, crypto-traders on Telegram), in this competitive environment, people are looking for ways to get an edge that may help them beat the crowd. This might be being the first to hear scoops, or getting to the front of the queue for the cheapest flights.
We scoured different industries to try and find some of these influencers that have a way of swaying the market itself with the information they publish.
Anonymous Japanese account Okasanman has more followers than the Bank of Japan, and its tweets can quite literally sway the stock market. In August 2017, the account was among the first to share news of a pharmaceutical takeover bit, sending shares of the company up by 13%, and it beat financial reporters to news about the notoriously secretive Bank of Japan’s change in monetary policy.
Why do people trust Okasanman? Although the account is anonymous, it discusses more than just markets. Whether it’s run by one or several people, there are human touches like pet pictures and discussion of non-stock market news stories. And of course the information it shares is genuinely useful for traders, and there are no signs that Okasanman itself might be profiting from the news it spreads.
Okasanman’s followers are growing by the thousands every month, but given much of the interest is based on its influence on the market, it will be interesting to see if a saturation point comes. If too many people begin relying on the account’s tips to trade one way or another, it may cease to be effective. And if this happens, will followers stay around for the content regardless?
Travel: Jack’s Flight Club
Inside trading has come to the holiday scene too. Jack Sheldon, a UK-based Texan, has been sharing flight deals in his newsletter since 2016. Sharing these findings on Reddit grew subscriptions, which now number over 300,000.
There are countless flight deal sites which track fluctuations in prices, but Jack’s advantage is himself, an ‘average Joe’, speaking to people of a similar age with similar priorities – young professionals in their late 20s and 30s. Posts on Jack’s Flight Club’s Facebook page are written in a casual tone, full of emojis, to give the feeling of being recommended by a friend. Being part of the club offers an in to find unusually low and ‘mistake’ fares, that are either a glitch in the flight companies’ systems, or an unannounced flash sale as airlines try to fill up flights.
More and more airlines honouring these ‘mistake fares’ and allowing headline-worthy cheap flights because of sites like Jack’s Flight Club. Jack claims to have saved users millions of pounds in the last year. While the edge the club offers is not as dramatic as accounts like Okasanman, operating through a personality makes its deals seem exclusive to the person reading them.
Politics: Guido Fawkes
In the UK, the blog Guido Fawkes has been influential in the world of politics since its inception in 2004. The provocative name Guido Fawkes references the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the 1600s.
The anti-establishment blog gives readers an information edge, often being the first one to break political news: from scooping political journalists to revelations of politician affairs, shady dealings among the UK political class, and even getting involved in press regulation. Its original editor has gone on to write for national newspapers and founded a digital advertising agency which has advised political parties during elections. The blog continues to be influential, with sources within government, and breaking stories on Twitter.
Wirecutter is another success story. Founded in 2011, it calls itself a “a best-of list for everyday things”. Its uniquely rigorous test-and-review approach struck a chord, and after five years of growth, it was acquired by The New York Times for more than $30 million in 2016. Wirecutter get an affiliate cut of online sales made by their recommendations, but they have built the trust needed for readers to support that.
On Twitter, Wirecutter owns another account @wirecutterdeals, which tweets out discount codes for the products it recommends. Although a lot younger than the original Wirecutter, Wirecutter Deals is growing rapidly, reaching half of the follower count Wirecutter has, despite tweeting nothing but deals. Wirecutter deals comes in very handy during shopping holidays, such as Black Friday in the US, when retailers offer limited quantities of very attractive deals, along with a smattering of less interesting ones.
Who did we miss? Where else on social media are people looking for an edge? Let us know on Twitter @pulsarplatform