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The five tweets that sent share prices crashing

Following news that reality TV star Kylie Jenner wiped $1.3bn off the value of Snap’s share price, we look at some other instances of digital disturbance.
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Celebrities are paid thousands and thousands to market and endorse products on social media platforms, giving them a revenue generator stars of bygone eras could only dream of.

Competition amongst Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to be the most fashionable platform for consumers is fierce, which made the eight per cent dip experienced by Snap following a high-profile slap down unsurprising.

Kylie Jenner, one of the Kardashian clan and someone with 24.5m Twitter followers, 20.9m Facebook likes and 104.4m Instagram followers, tweeted: “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.”

The result? Snap, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), saw its shares fall by eight per cent and shipped $1.3bn in value.

It is not the first time an innocuous tweet has caused stock market carnage, as Real Business rounds up below.

(1) Fake Barack Obama injury

In 2013 hackers managed to access the Twitter account of the Associated Press and posted: “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”

Unsurprisingly, given the presidents role as the de-facto leader of the free world, the stock markets recoiled in horror and panic trading saw the S&P 500 decline 0.9 per cent. That might seem like a small number, but it was worth $130bn in value.

The Associated Press and the White House were quick to correct the fake tweet and the market recovered quickly, but it showed how much damage could be done with such a small amount of characters.

(2) Donald Trump…many times

Before, during and after becoming president of the United States, Donald Trump has daily used Twitter to voice his views – the majority of which are negative and bordering on defamatory. Amazon, Toyota and Lockheed Martin are all examples of companies which have felt his social media wrath.

In December 2016, Trump tweeted: “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.” Per character, that tweet costed Lockheed Martin £28.6m – pretty powerful keypad work.

In declaring that Amazon was doing “great damage to tax paying retailers”, Trump wiped $5bn off the value of the ecommerce giant. It was a swing at Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper – a source of much “fake news” according to Trump.

That tweet didn’t do much damage there after though. Since 16 August 2017 Amazon’s value has climbed from $460bn to its current market capitalisation of $719bn.


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(3) Bernie Sanders gets angry

Another from a political leader, this time Democrat Bernie Sanders. Famous for being the Vermont senator who took Hillary Clinton all the way to the wire in the battle to be Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, Sanders managed to bring about a 15 per cent share price loss for Ariad.

Despite only having 2.6m Twitter followers, his post declaring the greed of drug corporations to be “unbelievable” cost pharmaceutical business Ariad $387m.

He was angry that the company had raised the price of its leukaemia drug to “almost $199,000 a year” and let his feelings be known.

It was a similar reaction to Clinton who, a month earlier, had called out fellow drugs company Mylan for “price gouging” consumers who buy its allergy shot.

(4) Twitter itself

Life on the stock market is hard work, something well known to Twitter itself. After listing in 2013, Twitter’s share price has not exactly soared. In fact, only recently did a good revenue and profit update push it back above listing price.

In April 2015 its own financial results caused a bit of a meltdown when financial technology company Selerity gained access to what were thought to be confidential Twitter figures and posted an update on the social media platform.

Unfortunately for Twitter, the financials showed a poor first quarter of the year and brought about a little shareholder panic. A halt in trading was required as Twitter executives scrambled to deal with the situation.

(5) And one going the other way…

She’s worth billions of dollars herself, but when Oprah Winfrey tweeted about Weight Watchers it was the corporate that boosted its own coffers. Upon tweeting: “Eat bread. Lose weight. Whaaatttt? #ComeJoinMe”, the US-based company saw its share price surge by 20 per cent.

Winfrey herself benefitted from this surge thanks to her ten per cent ownership in the business. She paid $43m for the stake in the weight-loss company in October 2015 and has since gone on to be one of its biggest ambassadors and cheerleaders.

With a Twitter following of 41.6m, Winfrey has the ability to reach a huge audience and influence the direction of companies she is interested in.


How real are your organisation’s Twitter followers?

Twitter celebrated its tenth anniversary on 21 March – however, the milestone has prompted many to question the social network’s relevancy today and, most importantly, its future.


 

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About Author

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven is the former editor of Real Business and sister publication, Business Advice. In his time at Caspian Media, he was part of the team that hosted the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative.

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