The Power and Promise of a Vertical Web Community

I am spending too much time on the road of late, but I am learning. Building a Company takes time and sacrifice. Gaining big distribution and partnership deals for your Company always come down to the product. Thank goodness, because I am no catch with respect to personality. This week I got to spend some quality product and business development time with David Putnam, Stocktwits’ head of Product. I met David in one of my 20 plus pitches/pleas for distribution at Yahoo. This particular pitch was a weak one (David told me), but David, who was the product lead, was a Stocktwits’s user (with many of the other Yahoo Finance developers). He was making money following a bunch of us. He was having a few laughs. He felt ‘tuned in’ to the tape when he used it.

When David decided to leave Yahoo, he had many opportunities. I turned on my charm. We got him anyways! It was our product and my vision for Stocks and Finance. David shared the same vision and was willing to take some risk. After a long week of pitches and product demonstrations in New York City and Boston with our NY brains of Ben Weiss, David jotted down his updated vision that we share. We are having a blast with our community seeing it come together faster and faster. Stressful and tiring,no doubt, but satisfying to the soul. Here are David’s thoughts:

I am nobody when it comes to having a broad social network reach, Klout score, etc. I’ve got 200 +/- Twitter Followers. Several hundred Facebook friends. Some connections on LinkedIn. I’m not whitty, and that sells on social. I’m practical. One of those Execs that knows how to execute. Get sh*t done. The right sh*t.

When it comes to social networks I think there are more like me, than the whitty type. So are Twitter and Facebook fads? Maybe the companies (time will tell), but NOT the new mediums of communication these services have brought to light. They are fast. They are real-time. You can reach 1, 20, 1000, 1M, 60M users.

What is happening is that building a reputation, audience, relevant contacts, book of business, sharing information with the right people (versus your “Friends” who don’t care) is becoming extremely difficult on this new medium. These new mediums require far greater talent than bloggers who mastered SEO over the past 4-5 years. Being somebody on one of these vast social networks, and carving out a following takes time. Lots of time. So start this year. Heck, I would recommend starting tomorrow, because it is building a house brick by brick (Follower by Follower)!

What needs to happen is “verticalization” of these networks. A place where finance professionals interact with others interested in finance. A place where investors and the market meet. These people are visiting sites today such as $YHOO Finance, $LNKD, Twitter, Facebook, CNBC, etc. They are there. How do you reach them there is the question? How do you reach them in a scalable way? How do you reach them in a compliant manor? How do you reach them in a place where it’s not about being whitty, but rather about being a practical contributor.
Personally, I imagine a place where investors meet to share ideas and information in a compliant manor. A place where my ideas reach people who care about my message. A place where my message can be seen by millions. A place where I can build a BRAND, RESPECT, and REPUTATION, not “Friend” you. A place where my Followers care about finance, investing, trading, building a book of business, and generating income. Archiving is done for me. I am covered by disclosures. Analytics are available for me to see how my activity is benefiting me and the community.

This is the vision. This is happening now in Finance. This is happening on StockTwits.