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Charles Schwab launches sponsored content on Seeking Alpha

  • Charles Schwab launched a branded contributor forum on Seeking Alpha
  • Schwab is using the platform to engage the significant portion of Seeking Alpha's user base that uses Schwab as a broker
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Charles Schwab launches sponsored content on Seeking Alpha
Investment heavyweight Charles Schwab, which manages $3.3 trillion in assets, has rolled out a crowdsourced content site. The site, Modern Investing Center, is a sponsored section on online finance contributor forum Seeking Alpha, which has 14,000 contributors and 13 million monthly unique visitors. It includes articles from Seeking Alpha contributors on aspects of investing strategies and factors that may influence stock prices. "Schwab was looking for a home on our site that would naturally express the theme of modern investing and insights coming from multiple sources and multiple points of view," said Katherine Divney, svp of sales at Seeking Alpha. Schwab's branded-content operation also includes magazines and a livestreamed video show. Charles Schwab joins a growing group of investment firms and sites that are building social media sentiment into the roster of value-added resources for investors. For example, TD Ameritrade and Fidelity now do social sentiment scores to capture social media chatter relating to stocks, and StockTwits, an online social network for traders, does sentiment analysis based on its members’ comments. By paying Seeking Alpha, Schwab plans to grow interactions among its investors and traders. According to Seeking Alpha data, approximately 1 million users specify a broker they use, and more than 10 percent of those indicate Schwab as their preferred broker. "It's about creating a community," said April Rudin, chief executive and founder of wealth marketing strategy firm The Rudin Group. "All big firms are looking to do this -- once you've created a loyal following, people will keep coming back to your site for additional information, and other communities could develop with smaller groups discussing investment ideas or strategies." Each Seeking Alpha article is tagged by subject matter, and those that fall under a set of topics -- like fixed income, issues relevant to financial advisers or asset allocation strategies, for example -- are included on the Modern Investing portal. The crowdsourced content is vetted by Seeking Alpha's editorial teams; only 10 percent of first-time submissions get posted, Divney said. The objective is to get a variety of points of view represented. The Schwab name adds credibility to it, which can be useful to investors concerned about being overloaded with posts that may be influenced by various competing agendas. "There is that suspicion with fake news; [Schwab's platform on Seeking Alpha] has branding and recognition, and is easy to use," said Aite senior analyst Denise Valentine. Schwab can also study users' interactions with discussion forums, what topics they focus on, and the questions they ask -- data that can allow the company to be more proactive in promoting relevant content to users based on their preferences and behaviors, she added. The forum is consistent with the "thought leadership" approach to Schwab's content strategy -- content that goes beyond "tips and tricks" of investing to bigger-picture think pieces. For example, Schwab's livestreamed show features interviews with celebrities and influencers including Condoleezza Rice, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Nate Silver and Tom Brokaw. The topics of these discussions aren’t restricted to finance; sometimes, they touch on politics or the state of the media today. “Companies see value in being real, being better listeners; it’s like they see and hear what’s happening in society and don’t have their heads in the sand," customer experience analyst Blake Morgan recently told Tearsheet about Schwab's content strategy.

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