Tag Archives: Mark Zuckerberg

Lou Kerner: The First Wall Street Social Media Analyst

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

First off, when I was writing this title (the most straightforward one I could think of – it helps search engines find your material), my mind immediately went to the new film version of Marvel’s patriotic peacekeeper, which is titled Captain America: The First Avenger. I’m pretty sure though that no one is planning on making a blockbuster film called The Wall Street Social Media Analysts. Pretty sure.

But anyway, enough of hypothetical financial superhero crossovers, let’s get to the meat of the article. Last week, Private Equity Hub sent out a press release about Lou Kerner, who they say is – yep, you guessed it – the first Wall Street social media analyst. (The press release is blocked by a pay wall, but you can get the gist of it here.)

I’m going to interrupt the flow a bit here just to clear up an ambiguity – when I first read “Wall Street social media analyst”, I was unclear as to what it meant. Were they saying that Kerner was the first person on Wall Street to analyse social media companies, or that he was the first person to analyse Wall Street via social media? It turns out, they meant the former – Kerner speculates on the stock prices of Twitter and Facebook and whatnot. However, he does post financial comments on Twitter (@loukerner), so technically both are true.

But anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so Lou is apparently the first social media analyst on Wall Street. I have to admit, this struck me as a bit odd. Why? Well…

It’s Been a Long Time Coming

I guess the thing that most took me by surprise is the fact this has only just happened. I mean, Facebook’s been around since 2004. I first became aware of it in my first year of university (late 2009), and by the end of the academic year it was massive in the UK (Compete.com had already ranked it the most popular social media website in the world in January 2009).

The point I’m making is, why did it take so long for the business world to notice that there might be something in this social media malarkey? That maybe it was something worth reporting on? That maybe there was some money to be made form it? I mean, Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook, for those of you like me who couldn’t be bothered to see The Social Network) became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2008. You’d think that’s the kind of thing Wall Street would hear about.

The Social Network

I mean, I know I didn't see it, but come on, the film of his life won three Oscars.

And it’s not like Lou Kerner stumbled across this stuff over night. He definitely knew about Facebook – he offered to buy a stake in it when Zuckerberg was still at Harvard (Will Wall Street’s social media analyst roll eyes or turn heads?). He’s been talking to the press about the importance of social media since 2003. And yet when he said two years ago that Facebook would one day be worth $100bn he was laughed at.

It seems to me that the world of business – and business journalism – needs to get with the programme. (Or should that be program? Sorry, grammar joke.) I’m not saying social media is the be all and end all of economics, but Facebook is now worth $85bn. Lou Kerner is going to do very well for himself if he stays as Wall Street’s only social media analyst.

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Social media and fake stories: how the journalist is reasserting control

22 Mar

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

One of the most significant aspects of using social media to generate online journalistic content is the speed with which stories break, spread and go viral.

But citizen journalists, unlike their official counterparts, don’t have the need to go to quite the same lengths to verify their sources and corroborate their stories. And the anonymity of the Internet makes it all that much harder.  The result? Hoaxes and false stories become trends faster than the mainstream media can pick up the phone to check the facts.

How do you trace a story you’ve heard from someone else, when that person heard it from someone else before and so on? Paul Bradshaw discusses a three-pronged approach to the issue: through content, context and code, he argues we can verify how true those unbelievable stories being disseminated over the Internet really are.  The chances are, they’re just that: unbelievable.

But, I would argue the non-story BECOMES a story by virtue of the speed at which it spreads and the reaction it engenders.  Doesn’t it say something of the nature of people consuming the news that the stories that get the biggest reader reaction – that is, the ones that make you go: “How funny/interesting/ridiculous! I best send that link on to X,Y and Z” – are rarely the big movers and shakers in terms of international importance.

Examples of these hoaxes can be found in their hundreds.  Take the latest story to do the rounds on FB: that Marck Zuckerberg would be shutting down FB on 15th March because of “stress”.

The one that sticks in my mind is the World Cup hysteria surrounding the alleged ban by the police on the St. George’s flag.  Now if ever there was a subject more perfectly poised to engender reaction it was this one.  Friends of mine, outraged, changed their FB statuses ad infinitum and we all decried the PC brigade for their anti-nationalist feeling.

Except it was a hoax.

FB posts like this one capitalised on World Cup fever and spread faster than England left the tournament

So while the outrage spread within minutes on social media, the traditional journalists didn’t see it.  Take the above post from one of my FB network; he posted this on 19th May 2010.  It was two days later that the BBC covered the story, revealing it to be a hoax.  It does not take two days to ring the police and confirm the story, an intern can do it in 10 minutes!

And when we had Charlie Sheen’s death announced on Twitter just weeks ago – twice – NowPublic began reporting it was more than just an innocuous, false story: it was a virus.  Hoaxes spread quickly and viruses are masquerading as them for this very reason.

So where do they come from? Scambusters.org argue that the rise in hoax stories is symptomatic of our obsession with celebrity culture.  And these false stories are self-perpetuating because many celebrities who crave publicity are happy to profit from the attention.

These stories are false.  Reporting a false story is not journalism, reporting ON a false story is.  A case in point is the excellent Starsuckers documentary from 2009 – check out the YouTube video of it:

Once again, social media is helping to forge new inroads into online journalism – and the hoax stories are providing the raw materials to do this.

When social media is The News

28 Dec

Caroline James @CarolineJames1

What happens if social media isn’t used to tell a story, but is the story itself?

I’ve just used Google News to search for “Facebook”.  In the past day, there have been over 72,oo0 uses of the word Facebook across the 4,500 “English-language news sources” collated by Google News.

Some of these are instances of the role social media plays in contemporary journalism: The Guardian tells us how the social networking site was used to help police hunt for clues after Joanna Yeates disappeared.  There are also reports from Matt Tran at Online Social Media of the numerous Facebook pages which have sprung up in tribute to her death.  Here we have a clear example of how social media has become an intrinsic part of journalistic news gathering, as well as in reporting the news.

There are, however, more navel-gazing aspects of Facebook for the journalist.  We have hits under the search “Facebook” returned in the following areas:

Business – Google News tells me there’s 52 related stories, The New York Times among them, about the trade in Facebook shares, in spite of the fact that the company is privately held.

Technology – Where I’d expect a Facebook story to crop up, in a subsection called Techland, part of Time’s online offering.  And according to the experts there, the more friends we have on Facebook, the bigger our “amygdala”.  Check out the article if you want to know if that’s a good thing or not.

Legal – I discovered a pupil in Florida has pursued successful legal action after being suspended after making comments about a teacher on Facebook.  32 articles on the subject will surely provide some comfort to all those students out there who worry about the damage a drunken Facebook photo might have done to their job prospects.

So, Facebook news stories aren’t just to be pigeonholed as technology based.

Social media isn’t a niche that can be categorised per se, but its functions overlap many aspects of journalism.  If I was writing in October 2010, I’d be able to count in my Google News search the articles about the film The Social Network following Mark Zuckerberg’s roller-coaster ride revolutionising modern communication with Facebook.  It’s not just the news taking its cue from social media, now Hollywood’s at it, too!

Is it only a matter of time before Facebook adds its own news function?

It could take the form of listing the most popular news stories, like the BBC.  Or, perhaps the most popular links flying around Facebook would give it its own “Most shared on Facebook” hierarchy of news.

We know that the YouTube Gap Yah video which went viral –  incidentally, it has over 3,000,000 views to date – benefited from Facebook friends sharing the link with each other.  Just think how much faster it would’ve spread if the first thing you were directed to when you logged on to Facebook  was a table showing you that 75% of all your Facebook friends had clicked on that link…

Facebook wouldn’t be the first social media site to collate popular topics.  Twitter has its “trending” which must be one of the most up-to-date and immediate ways of tracking the most discussed news of the day:

So, Mark Zuckerberg, if you’re reading this: we’re ready for Facebook to give something back to the news it’s so often responsible for generating.