Yesterday, the Futures Industry Association hosted an event in Chicago on the effects of social media in our industry. The concept of social media is not new to futures world. In fact, from the beginning our markets have always been about crowdsourcing – traders in a trading pit searching for the best price, listening to outside signals and following influencers in the marketplace for ideas. When we began our social media efforts back in the summer of 2007, it was logical that these platforms would become embedded into our communication and listening efforts. I’m happy to say today that this prediction was accurate.
Sean McLaughlin from StockTwits moderated yesterday’s panel discussion, which focused on areas such as compliance, content management and engaging with your audience (Disclaimer: CME Group is a sponsor of StockTwits). What has been interesting to watch evolve with the use of social media is the transformation of relationships. Due to the ability for people to add content, find content and share content it has now become easier to connect and talk with people who matter to you – customers, regulators, industry partners, academics and more.
Diane Saucier from Trading Technologies was quick to address the compliance issue those in our industry inevitably face:
“Companies get nervous about social media sometimes because they’re afraid of people saying things about the company that they shouldn’t be saying. If you shouldn’t be saying it don’t say it. Twitter didn’t change anything. It’s just a new medium. You’ve always had to be careful.”
She also noted that there are clear FINRA guidelines on social media, which can be found in regulatory notice 11-39 and in the FINRA guide to the web.
Other participants on the panel included angel investor and independent trader Jeff Carter, financial blogger Tadas Viskanta, and Morad Askar of VanKar Trading (You can search Twitter for an historical stream of content from the event using #FIAsocmedia).
A great example of social media in action in our markets is in the farming community. We trace our history back to 1848 as a place for farmers to manage their risk, and today the farming community is one of the key participants in social media (see our coverage of farmers using social media)
The acceptance of these platforms is only one example of many in our industry, which is why we partnered with StockTwits three years ago. Our arrangement with the Twitter-based platform has allowed us to connect with a number of peoplewho follow our markets and our company. Today, more than 90 of our products are listed on the StockTwits network with nearly 60,000 individual messages each month about them.
This site — also on Twitter — is another platform we have watched grow and evolve over time. We launched OpenMarkets in 2010 to address key regulatory issues in our markets. What we learned as we continued to add content and listen to our readers was that they wanted more – more insight from our product heads, more opinions from our regional leaders, more input from outside resources, and more thought-provoking topics that impact the markets . We feel we have delivered on that feedback as more than 200 sites have linked to OpenMarkets with visitors from more than 150 countries since we relaunched the site in March.
But you cannot have a successful social media program without engaging with your audience. As several on yesterday’s panel correctly stated, social media is not a broadcast, one-way channel. By actively listening to our audiences both online and offline we have been able to improve our mobile applications, create a specific website for questions on MF Global and quickly create timely educational materials, to give a few examples.
This approach made us a pioneer and leader in social media for the futures industry. But social media works best when the most participants are involved. Yesterday’s discussion was an encouraging sign that that’s happening in our industry.
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