The “social media” phenomenon takes some very interesting twists and turns every once and awhile. (Minor ones include mainstream brands embracing it: e.g., Macy’s adding consumer-generated content or Sheraton’s Yahoo! knock-off site.) A more interesting example is the relatively new (since August, 2005) but still little known PredictWallStreet.com. The site claims 1 million monthly uniques but has no advertisers as yet beyond Google AdSense.
At first blush this site seems to be a kind of quaint game, inviting people online to predict the immediate fate of the major market stock indexes. (In a different way, Farecast and Mpire do something similar with airfares and product prices.) But upon further consideration and deeper investigation — admittedly, the site is not as user-friendly as it might be – there’s considerably more depth and interest here.
PredictWallStreet founder Craig Kaplan has created a “wisdom of crowds” engine (I don’t know exactly how to refer to it otherwise) that brings “distributed problem solving” or “collective intelligence” potentially to bear on any subject or issue. In that larger sense this is really fascinating and has some profound potential implications. (But that’s a long digression.)
Back to the immediate financial site. The site runs a weekly contest; people can predict the performance of indexes or individual stocks, both in the immediate future and over time. The site also – and here’s the “beauty part” (as they say) – tracks the accuracy of those predictions and individual predictors. Here’s an example from the contest. (In addition, you can do all the mundane stuff like track your portfolio.)
Many of the individuals’ pages are private, but here’s an individual who is making predictions about a range of stocks. You can see how accurate this person (or group) is regarding each stock picked. Here are example individual stock pages: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!. You can see short and long-term trends.
(Think of how Yahoo! Finance or Google Finance could really add some zing with PredictWallStreet‘s community features.)
As the site grows and attracts more users (and tracks their predictions), one could use this site as a kind of financial advisor – following the most accurate predictors’ “advice” or doing the opposite of the most inaccurate predictors. There are also discussion boards and other tools for seeing and sharing information.
For that class of hypothetical “power users” this site would be a daily visit and probably involve considerable time on site. For potential financial services marketers, this site could well be a gold mine of highly qualified leads. (Financial services companies spent $1.5 billion online in 2005 per the IAB.)
The site needs to surface more of its features and do some aggressive PR to build a larger mass of regular users. But it pretty clearly takes the so-called “Web2.0″ community concept to the next level.