MONITORING what is being said about your company in the news and on the social web is something every investor relations department should be doing as a normal part of its daily activities.
There are many ways to monitor the web. Some involve big fees and offer the convenience of filtering the signal from the noise. There are also many free tools you can use, but these typically involve checking a variety of services to get a complete picture of what is going on, which can be time consuming and hard work.
But now there’s a free software tool called StockTwits Desktop that can make your monitoring activities much easier. The software, which is designed to help investors and traders monitor everything that’s being said about their holdings, works well for investor relations officers who want to monitor –- and potentially participate in — online conversations about their companies.
StockTwits Desktop is much more than just Twitter
Although StockTwits started out as a service that aggregates conversation about stocks on the Twitter microblogging service, it has grown far beyond its humble beginnings. StockTwits Desktop is the next iteration of the service and has the potential to stand separately from Twitter. If Twitter goes down, which isn’t uncommon, traders and investors can keep tweeting via StockTwits’ own network.
In fact, this is one reason why any investor relations professional that is currently on Twitter should use StockTwits Desktop as their Twitter client. StockTwits Desktop users don’t always send their messages to Twitter, so unless you’re on StockTwits Desktop, you won’t necessarily see their messages, although most copy their messages to Twitter at this time, according Phil Pearlman, head of market research and community development at StockTwits.com.
However, the most powerful features of StockTwits Desktop from an investor relations perspective are the many ways it enables IROs to monitor what is being said on the web about their companies and peers, and all on a single screen.
With StockTwits Desktop you can monitor a wide range of sources, including:
- Investors and traders’ real-time messages about your company on StockTwits.
- General real-time discussion about your company on Twitter.
- Mentions of your company across thousands of news sources.
- Blog posts that mention your company.
- New message board postings about your company.
- Changes made to your company’s profile on Wikinvest, an increasingly popular source of company information.
- SEC filings related to your company.
- Peer news and StockTwits messages about competitors, and
- Blog posts about your company’s industry sector.
Unfortunately, StockTwits Desktop doesn’t come with all of this pre-configured. You have to spend some time setting up your monitoring dashboard and you’ll need to know where to find feeds for various types of information.
In the next sections I’ll show you how to set up your own monitoring dashboard. In the examples, I’ll use Newmont Mining Corp (NYSE:NEM) as the example company. I chose this company at random and they did not collaborate on this story.
Install StockTwits Desktop
The first thing to do is download an install the StockTwits Desktop software. It runs on Adobe Air, so you will be prompted to download this Air software as well if it isn’t already on your computer. To get more out of the Desktop app, it helps if you already have an account on Twitter, but this isn’t essential if you only want to use the software for monitoring.
Rather than spend time explaining how to install StockTwits Desktop, I’m embedding a short video from StockTwits which explains the basics.
Set up tabs and streams
The building blocks of StockTwits Desktop are tabs and streams. A tab is essentially a page that can contain several streams or columns of information. I have my StockTwits Desktop set up with six tabs and each tab has between four and 12 stream columns.
You can add a wide range of content streams to a tab. There are two main groups of streams in the Desktop app: StockTwits streams and Twitter streams.
If you plan to publish messages via StockTwits Desktop, it can be a good idea to set up a tab for StockTwits and a separate one for Twitter. I do this because I interact with different people on StockTwits than I do on Twitter. Having the two in separate streams helps me keep things organized.
However, beyond the basic StockTwits and Twitter streams, there’s a lot more you can do using several other stream options that are great for setting up a monitoring dashboard. We’ll look at these next.
Set up a monitoring tab
Now lets start setting up a tab in StockTwits Desktop that we can use to monitor what is being said on the web about Newmont Mining. The first thing to do is click the plus-sign button to add a new tab.
This reveals the menu of stream buttons. You can also edit the tab label at this point by clicking the edit link next to your new tab. Let’s do this now and call it NEM Monitor.
We now have a blank page or tab called NEM Monitor. It’s time to start filling it with streams.
To add a new stream to the NEM Monitor tab, click on the “Add Streams” button in the top left of the screen. You’ll use the “Add Streams” button a lot when you first set up StockTwits Desktop.
Add a StockTwits Symbol stream
Out of the box, StockTwits Desktop gives you three handy ways to monitor what is being said about your company on StockTwits, on Twitter and in the news.
The first stream I’m going to add is the StockTwits Symbol stream. This lets you add a stream for any StockTwits messages that mention a single company’s ticker symbol.
Click “Add Streams” in the top left and then choose the Symbol button (above). Add the ticker in the field on the next screen.
In this case, Newmont’s ticker is NEM. Click “load” and the new stream appears in the NEM Monitor tab.
We now have a stream that shows every StockTwits message that mentions Newmont’s ticker symbol. The messages in this stream have high relevancy because they’re all by people interested in the company as an investment.
Add a Twitter Search stream
A lot of messages about companies on Twitter do not flow to StockTwits because people don’t add $ signs in front of ticker symbols or they forget that they have to follow StockTwits on Twitter for their tweets to be indexed by the service.
Since it’s important to know when your company is mentioned on Twitter, we will set up a stream containing real-time Twitter search results for the term “Newmont Mining.” Anytime a tweet mentions Newmont Mining, we will see it in StockTwits Desktop.
Click the “Add Streams” button and then choose the Twitter Search button.
Add your company’s name as the search phrase.
Click “Search” and you’ll have added a new Twitter Query stream to your monitoring tab.
All Twitter messages containing the term “Newmont Mining” will automatically appear in this stream in near real-time.
Add a SkyGrid Search stream
SkyGrid is a deep news and blog search service that originally was sold to hedge funds and other institutional investors on subscription before it was made a free service. I have been impressed with SkyGrid as a standalone product, but with StockTwits Desktop you don’t need to use the standalone service because it can be added as a stream.
There are two SkyGrid streams available in StockTwits Desktop: “All News,” which tells you what the hottest news is on the web, and “Symbol News,” which gives you news mentioning a particular company by stock symbol.
To add news headlines of stories that mention Newmont as a stream in the NEM Monitoring tab, click the “Add Streams” button and select the “Symbol News” button.
Add the ticker symbol in the text field and the SkyGrid Symbol News stream is added to the NEM Monitor tab.
When any news articles mention Newmont, they will appear in the monitoring tab in StockTwits Desktop.
Add an RSS stream
The RSS stream option in StockTwits Desktop gives you many possibilities for monitoring activities on the web. Any service that provides an RSS feed can be included as a stream. You can also combine multiple feeds into one stream by using a service like FeedMingle or Yahoo Pipes.
Using the RSS stream in StockTwits Desktop you can add streams for SEC filings, message board posts, news, blog posts, Wikinvest updates and a host of others.
For this post, I’ll add an RSS stream for posts to message boards about Newmont. The first thing to do is get the relevant RSS feeds from forum search services.
My favorites are BoardReader and Omgili. They output search results as RSS feeds, which means you can get near real-time updates in StockTwits Desktop when new posts about your company are made on a wide variety of forums.
Once you have the RSS feed URLs from BoardReader and Omgili, combine them into a single RSS feed using FeedMingle, as shown below.
Click on “Mingle Now” and copy the combined feed’s URL from FeedMingle so that you can add it to an RSS stream in StockTwits Desktop.
In StockTwits Desktop click on the “Add Streams” button and choose the RSS stream button.
Paste the combined feeds URL from FeedMingle in the text field.
Click “Load” and you will now have a new RSS stream that looks like this:
Using the same procedure, you can add a variety of other RSS streams, such as a blog search stream by combining Seeking Alpha blog posts and Google Blog Search results for your company, as I’ve done below for Newmont:
There is a lot you can do with RSS streams. I think it is possibly the single best feature in StockTwits Desktop.
Monitor peers with a Watchlist stream
A good monitoring system shouldn’t just focus on your company, it should also keep tabs on what is happening at your company’s competitors. StockTwits Desktop has a great feature for doing this.
You can create a Watchlist comprised of your peers’ ticker symbols by clicking on the Watchlist button at the top of the screen.
I created a watchlist for Newmont by entering the ticker symbols for a variety of gold producers.
Once you’ve set up a watchlist, you can bring all messages that mention your peers into a single stream in your monitoring tab or in a separate peer monitoring tab.
To do this, click the “Add Streams” button and choose the Watchlist button in the streams menu.
Select the watchlist you want to add as a stream and anytime someone on StockTwits mentions one of your peers, their message will now appear in your new stream, which will look something like this:
Of course, you can also add a peer news monitoring stream using the RSS stream button. I did this for Newmont by combining 22 news feeds from Google News Search and Yahoo! Finance into a single peer news RSS feed, as shown below.
There are a number of other peer monitoring streams you could add using the RSS stream option, including all mentions of peers on Twitter and all forum discussions about your peers.
Here are some screenshots showing you all of the streams I set up while working on this post. They show a number of additional streams that I haven’t mentioned. Click on the images to enlarge.
This post should get you well on your way to creating your own monitoring dashboard using StockTwits Desktop. The reality is that StockTwits Desktop is a flexible tool that enables you to build extremely powerful monitoring dashboards with just a bit of time and know-how.
If you would like us to set up a monitoring dashboard for your company using StockTwits Desktop, we’d be happy to set up a pre-configured StockTwits Desktop account for you and then walk you through installing and using the software.