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Trading Twitter | Using Twitter to Predict the Stock Market | The Twitter Fund

Updated on March 29, 2012

Trading Twitter

Predicting the direction of the stock market is an extremely difficult endeavour. In fact, no method or formula has ever consistently predicted the market’s direction. Many people have claimed to have discovered a magic formula or a secret indicator, such as the Superbowl indicator, or sell in May and go away, only to later determine their hot streak was attributable to little more than just plain luck. However, perhaps that is all about to change because of....


Can Twitter predict the direction of the stock market?
Can Twitter predict the direction of the stock market?

Huh? Twitter Can Predict the Stock Market?

According to a study published by a group at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing, lead by computational social scientist Johan Bollen, the movement of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) can be predicted by analyzing the millions of daily tweets submitted to the social media site Twitter.

The idea to use social media as a predictive instrument is not new. In fact other studies have shown that blogs and Twitter feeds can be used to analyze book sales and predict movie ticket sales at the box office. Bollen writes, “ We know from psychological research that emotions, in addition to information, play a significant role in human decision-making. Behavioral finance has provided further proof that financial decisions are significantly driven by emotion and mood.”

How Does the Twitter Indicator Work?

In their research Bollen and Mao used two tools. First, OpinionFinder, a freely available program that analyzes and rates the general level of positive or negative feelings in social data based on words with an emotional tone. Only tweets that contain explicit statements that express the author’s mood such as “I am feeling”, “I am,” and “makes me” were included in the analysis. Second, G-POMS, a combination of Google gathered data with a Profile of Mood States, takes the positive or negative groups of data gathered by OpinionFinder and routes them into groups of different mood dimensions such as calm, alert,sure, vital, kind, and happy. The group analyzed 9.8 million tweets submitted to Twitter from Feb 28, 2008 to Dec 19, 2008. Each mood dimension was compared to the DJIA and examined for any trends. The study concluded that the mood “calm” was positively correlated to the direction of the DJIA. Let’s take a look at the actual data:

Data from Bollen's Paper

Top:Correlation of the GPMOS calm score to the DJIA delayed 3 days. Middle: DJIA alone Lower: Calm score alone.Note that yellow dots highlight areas when a high calm score strongly predicted a rise in the DJIA 3 days later.
Top:Correlation of the GPMOS calm score to the DJIA delayed 3 days. Middle: DJIA alone Lower: Calm score alone.Note that yellow dots highlight areas when a high calm score strongly predicted a rise in the DJIA 3 days later. | Source

Remeber that the red “Calm score” is lagged by 3 days. You can see that when the Twitterverse was projecting an increasinly “calm” mood state, 3 to 5 days later the DJIA typically rallied. When the calmness of tweets lowered, two to six days later the Dow would also decline. Therefore, the team believes they have discovered an oddly correlative relationship between public mood and the DJIA. In fact, they conclude, “We find an accuracy of 87.6% in predicting the daily up and down changes in the closing values of the DJIA”.

A stock market indicator that is accurate 90% of the time! Holy sh*t!!!! KA-CHING!

Naturally, Bollen and company made a lot of friends very quickly. 

The Twitter Fund

Would put your money into a fund that invests solely on the basis of public mood determined by Twitter?

See results

The “Twitter Fund”

The Twitter Indicator recently caught the attention of twenty-eight year old start up hedge fund manager Paul Hawtin. Hawtin manages the soon to be open Derwent Capital fund or "Twitter fund" near London. The fund plans to scan Twitter's millions of daily tweets and look for threads that display public sentiment that can be used to predict the market using the strategy discussed above. In fact, Hawtin believes he can generate 15 to 20 percent returns.

Only time will tell if Bollen and Hawtin can live up to the hype they've generated. Of course the Twitter Indicator has its skeptics, including myself. For now I'll stick to buy and hold, dividend, and options investing, but I'll be sure to keep a close eye on the Twitter Fund because maybe, just maybe, these guys have stumbled across a magical key to unlocking the predictive power of the stock market!

Let me know what you think about the Twitter Indicator and the fund in the comments section below. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter @Enni82.


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