I guess I've become a bit of a dinosaur after 5 years in marketing in the online brokerage space, but I don't understand the hoopla surrounding AOL's supposed big move into blogging stocks. As written over at Business Week in AOL Launches New Network of Financial Blogs, AOL hired bloggers to write about product announcements, earnings releases, and commentary on stocks in their blog roll. This was a big idea of new AOL employee, Jason Calacanis and Weblogs. And over at Micro Persuasion, Steve Rubel thinks that this will cause more corporations to use blogs as a communications tool.
Hmm, PardonMe if I don't get too excited about this because, umm it has been done already over at The Street.com/RealMoney.com, on TV with Jim Cramer's Mad Money (same guy from the Street.com), Motley Fool, and like 1000s of analysts worldwide. Plus, if you want people commenting about stocks, you could always visit Yahoo Finance's Message Boards or Google Finance. Repackaging news content around specific stocks sounds like it hasn't been done, but doesn't that how most financial sites including online brokerages organize the news now? The answer true-believers is YES!
There is a lot of discussion on whether they can hold the stocks or not that they blog about. I personally stayed awake long enough while taking my Series 7 to learn that you don't EVER want to be perceived as influencing stock. How you go about that is up to your legal and compliance team's advice. To put it in perspective, I was politely told 5 years ago that I could have my own website and blog, but I would need to submit it for legal review prior to posting. That way, it would be difficult to show I influenced trading; plus, I had legal and compliance approval for communicating with the customer. In the end, I didn't want to assume the risk, so I didn't start my blog until after I left (by the way, I left as a Managing Director and one little test away from a Series 24). The influence perception is about risk management and whether you are trusting the information you are getting. I hate to say it, but I think this is just a poor PR ploy to generate attention regarding their governance (ho-hum).
This information is already widely available on any number of sites, including my personal choice for investing, Fidelity.com. So, having bloggers enter an already crowded field, repackaged in a pseduo Web 2.0 wrapping is really not needed and not breakthrough. If you were really interested in true financial bloggers, then spend a little time with Motley Fool or Real Money.com. In fact, RealMoney has original Wall Street bloggers, Jim Cramer and James "Rev Shark" De Porre.
As one financial services advertiser once said in a TV commercial (and I believe got slapped around by the NASD for it), let's put some lipstick on this pig. And, that's what is happening here with bloggingstocks.com.