I had a conversation with a friend a few years back who had become a stock broker and made millions – just out of college. Clearly, this friend has a gift for that kind of thing, and so I asked him what a typical day looked like. He told me that he would wake up at 4:45am every morning and turn on 2 or 3 large televisions in his room, and start watching the various business and financial programs while he also scanned the internet and several major newspapers for additional, relevant news.
He said the secret of his success consisted of two parts: consuming information, and knowing his sector and his target stocks so well that he could tell what news – any news – that would impact his target stocks, favorably or negatively. For example, he knew that a partnership signed between two companies would negatively impact a stock in his portfolio – a competitor – and would take action before the market even opened up. He was very focused, limiting the number of stocks he invested in, and became an expert on one sector.
At the time, he was in the process of adding a new sector and evaluating stocks, but was still months away from making any real investments. He was waiting until his level of expertise was on par with his other investments.
Why do I share this story? On my way into the office this morning, I was thinking about how Twitter and other social media tools have, in many ways, become the “stock ticker” for business. Social tools bring our news, they capture the dialog between partners and competitors, and they offer a way for us to see directly into the customer experience.
There is an almost constant flow of information about an industry’s circle of influencers – its just a matter of following the right people, broadening your base of information providers, and subscribing to the important periodicals (now online more than offline) to piece together a complete view of what is happening in your space. You only need to listen to the conversation.
Translating what you see, hear, and read into business value is the hard part, but as my friend pointed out, there is tremendous value in just being able to detect movement, up or down.
Obviously, in a role like mine (evangelist, trouble-maker) you are much more plugged into the social tools than your average businessperson. But its amazing how quickly we can recognize what is happening in the SharePoint space – which is a heavily connected space, to begin with. I would argue that I can even pick up on when one company launches a new social strategy, targeting certain topics or influencers. It’s fascinating to watch.