While Reddit – and more specifically WallStreetBets – has claimed the lion’s share of the discourse around retail investors convening on social media to discuss investment opportunities, thousands of investors are turning to other channels for a heady blend of investment advice and self-deprecating memes.
In this article, we take a look at some of different places retail investors are looking at for information.
TikTok creator Robert Ross,
Those of us over 25 – and involved in investor relations somehow – probably know the video-sharing app TikTok best because we followed the ‘will it, won’t it’ forced-sale saga playing out as a proxy for US-China tensions under former US president Donald Trump. While the Oracle-Walmart plan to buy TikTok’s US operations has apparently been pushed back indefinitely under President Joe Biden, there’s still reason for the IR community to take note of what’s happening on the app.
In June last year TikTok had 91 mn active users a month in the US alone. The app’s tagline is ‘trends start here’ and that’s clearly true for everything from dance to food and fashion, but younger generations are also using the app to look for investment advice.
The hashtag #Investing has been viewed more than 1.9 bn times and #Stocktok more than 753 mn times, and there are many more investment-related hashtags with multiple millions of views. The short-form video app allows users to rack up hundreds of thousands of hits on videos. Robert Ross – who posts as @tik.stocks – is an example: the senior analyst has more than 355,000 followers on the app and his recent video on why Pfizer’s stock was down has more than 1 mn views.
Discord, a chat application, hosts thousands of communities – known as servers – focused on the stock market. At time of writing, there are 4,691 servers tagged with ‘trading’, 841 tagged with ‘stocks’, and 536 tagged with ‘investing’, according to DISBOARD, which lists Discord servers.
The larger groups have tens of thousands of members and may have several thousand online at any one time. Within each server, chat groups are set up to discuss specific topics, such as options and micro-caps. Many offer premium subscriptions that give access to trading alerts, live streams and other benefits. Some servers openly advertise themselves as pump-and-dump schemes.
Eagle Investors, one of the biggest servers, has grown rapidly in recent months: membership jumped from 35,000 in January to nearly 80,000 at the start of March. It describes itself as ‘a distinguished trading community for stocks, options, and futures’ where ‘verified traders give you the real strategies that have a proven track record of success’.
The WallStreetBets community has its own Discord server with nearly 600,000 members, dwarfing other trading groups. In late January, at the height of GameStop mania in the stock market, Discord shut down the server over ‘hateful and discriminatory content’ – likely due to the way members use offensive terms to refer to each other. The following day, however, it allowed the community to open a new server and began to help moderate it.
Private investor groups can also be found on Slack, the work communications tool. Slofile, a directory of public Slack groups, lists 45 communities within its ‘finance’ section. One group, simply called Finances, has 2,253 members and covers a range of personal finance topics, including stocks and bonds. There are also smaller groups with a specific focus on stock trading.
The Dubai-based app Telegram has gained traction – and notoriety – in the US recently as right-wing extremists searched for alternative social media networks to use following crackdowns on hate speech by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. But Telegram has also provided a venue for large groups of retail investors to gather.
As membership in the WallStreetBets Reddit group ballooned, some users complained about low-quality posts and too much noise. Spin-offs popped up elsewhere, including on Telegram, where the WallStreetBets group has 110,000 members. Another large investing group on Telegram is Big Pump Signal, which is dedicated to co-ordinated cryptocurrency pump-and-dump events. This group has 154,000 members.
Reddit spin-offs: SwaggyStocks and the Memeberg Terminal
Both SwaggyStocks and the Memeberg Terminal have roots in the WallStreetBets Reddit group and could prove useful tools for IR teams that are on red alert about whether their stock is being discussed.
SwaggyStocks tracks mentions of tickers across the WallStreetBets Reddit group. It monitors changes in number of mentions and sentiment to provide an archive of how the most infamous sub-Reddit of 2021 is discussing stocks, as well as options volume trends and data about unusual options activity. It also provides a helpful earnings calendar and is a great place to learn more about the due diligence posts that lead to significant Reddit investor activity, as well as a list of the ‘Top Yolos’ – the most liked recent posts from WallStreetBets.
The Memeberg Terminal takes a slightly broader view, providing a list of the trending tickers across 10 different Reddit groups, including WallStreetBets, Stocks, Spacs, RobinHoodPennyStocks and WallStreetBetsOGs. The terminal displays changes in ticker mentions during a 24-hour and seven-day period, as well as a list of specific ticker mentions by Reddit users. If you have an aversion to some of the crude language and unenlightened nicknames of the WallStreetBets community, Memeberg Terminal and SwaggyStocks could be helpful sites to save to your favorites.
Reddit spin-off SwaggyStocks