Money and Influence on Social Media
FinTwit: not a made-up schoolyard insult but a term (“financial Twitter”) for the online community that uses Twitter to discuss finance and investing. One search of the hashtag #FinTwit on Twitter can point to the trending conversations of the day with hundreds of voices joining in. Twitter has become the go-to platform for users across the finance domain, from everyday investors to hedge fund managers and financial advisors, all of whom openly provide analysis, information, data, and opinions on the markets and investing.
Recent examples of hot topics in FinTwit conversations include a viral tweet storm claiming gender bias in the algorithm of a major new credit card, after some husbands and wives using the same financial information in their applications received radically different credit limits from the card issuer, and the FIRE movement (“Financial Independence, Retire Early”). FIRE community members are passionate about living frugally, tracking spending habits obsessively, working side hustles to earn extra money, and saving and investing for the future—all with the single-minded purpose of quitting their day jobs at a young age. FIRE stories generate fascination from online users who want to know just how it’s done—how the couple with two children and a modest combined income were able to retire and move to Europe at just 40 years old.
What these trending topics show is how quickly conversations can ignite on social media within the financial community. One tweet can spark an entire discussion, with other users replying and re-tweeting, amassing engagement from all corners of the globe. This is largely in part due to the rise of digital influencers, users who have specialized knowledge or established credibility in a specific industry (in this case the financial industry) and access to a huge audience that enables them to dominate the social media economy of likes and shares. This community has grown so large that there is even an annual event, FinCon, centered around helping “financial influencers and brands create better content, reach their audience, and make more money.”
The world of financial influencers can be broken down into roughly three broad categories, all united by followers in the thousands and connected by similar interests and a desire to continue building their brand.
- Media gurus are financial influencers whose day job is reporting on the financial services industry or personal financial topics (i.e., budgeting, investing, retirement) for a media outlet. By and large, they use Twitter as a platform to share their work, look for new leads, and converse with the financial community.
- Market professionals are trained financial analysts or experts whose deep knowledge allows them to offer stock market or economic commentary. Many serve in professional roles that require them to build a client base and leverage the platform to build their brand and deepen relationships, of course while staying compliant with regulatory requirements.
- Money experts are self-taught on financial topics and have typically developed their own influencer brands through their personal experiences or as a hobby or interest (i.e., getting out of student debt, becoming a first-time homeowner).
Financial influencers are extending their influence beyond the world of Twitter. As they build relationships with their audiences and drive conversations on Twitter, financial influencers can also set trends and inspire individuals offline. They’re writing books, producing podcasts and videos, and speaking at industry events – they control the message through their built-out audiences and “real life” followers.
With many B2B and B2C audiences now getting their financial insights through social media channels, it is smart for any financial company to consider incorporating digital influencers as part of a well-designed communications strategy for authentically reaching key audience segments, boosting credibility through third-party validation, generating brand awareness or driving important conversations about finance.