twitter financial newsPicture this: A well-known Billionaire financier tweets about your company’s desirability level to investors - and his own position in your company - causing a Wall Street frenzy.

Quick, what do you do?

If the first thing that comes to your mind is “I didn’t know investors used Twitter” or even worse “why does it matter what he tweets?” you and your company are in trouble; that single tweet from investor Carl Icahn boosted Apple’s market value by about $17 billion[1]. It could have also lowered market cap by $17B.  Icahn’s tweet also generated a large number of responses on Twitter and other social media sites with hashtags like #applestock and #appleshare dominating search results with various degrees of sentiment value.

Just earlier this year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said that companies can use social networks to disclose financial data as long as their previously inform their investors that they might do so. You can be sure that Icahn’s tweet will be the first of many to – quite literally – decide a company’s future in 140 characters or less.

With Twitter morphing to become your news wire of choice, companies can no longer sit back and wait until their own stakeholders decide to tweet about whether they might keep investing in your company or not. Banks, Financial Institutions, Insurance companies, they all exist in an environment where having your finger on the pulse of investors news is vital for their survival. Neglecting to monitor social media sites for brand mentions and brand abuse can and will result in executives being put in uncomfortable situations with reputation damage to repair.  Reputation and market capitalization have a strong correlation.

Social Media is indeed a powerful tool and its power lies in its apparent transparency. Unlike other media channels Twitter remains unfiltered. Individuals and companies can spread their message clearly and, more importantly, directly to billions of users. It allows companies to talk directly to their audience of choice. This means that if a tweet like Icahn’s were to happen to your company you can use social media to effectively ride along the wave of popularity that it might create by adding a well-crafted official response of your own. Social media allows you to potentially influence your own customers as never before.