Academic Research Insight: The Social Media Factor

/Academic Research Insight: The Social Media Factor

Academic Research Insight: The Social Media Factor

By | 2017-08-18T17:10:59+00:00 May 23rd, 2017|Basilico, Academic Research Insight|0 Comments

Editor’s Note: The Academic Research Insight will be a weekly short-form research summary on research that is directly related to investing. Elisabetta Basilico (a PhD and a CFA!) will be driving the effort, which will supplement our long-form summaries, in-house research, and general research commentary. We look forward to empowering investors through education!

  • Publication: THE JOURNAL OF PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT, SPRING 2017 (version here)

What are the research questions?

  1. Does the social media factor (created using tweet sentiments from explain the time-series variation in return for a sample of securities?
  2. Is the six factors model (the five factors Fama-French model PLUS the social media factor) better at explaining the cross-section of future returns?

What are the Academic Insights?

With the strong caveat that this study is tested on a short time frame ( January 2013-November 2015) and on a small sample ( 15 stocks), it finds that:

  1. YES- positive sentiment ( defined as the BULLISH percentage) on stocks is associated with positive returns
  2. YES- the relationship between stock twits and future returns  survives beyond the presence of traditional factors ( the Fama-French five factors model)

Why does it matter?

Financial technology (fintech) is undoubtedly changing the mechanism through which information is assembled and delivered.  It is plausible to expect that prices should incorporate all publicly available information both from traditional and non-traditional sources (such as tweets). However, would such a study pass the Harvey et al. (2016) “smell test” of robust research?

The most important chart of the paper:

The results are hypothetical results and are NOT an indicator of future results and do NOT represent returns that any investor actually attained. Indexes are unmanaged, do not reflect management or trading fees, and one cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information regarding the construction of these results is available upon request.

Elisabetta Basilico, Ph.D., CFA, (@ebasilico) is an independent investment consultant. With co-author Tommi Johnsen, PhD, she is writing an upcoming book on research backed  investing. You can learn more at

  • The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Alpha Architect, its affiliates or its employees. Our full disclosures are available here. Definitions of common statistics used in our analysis are available here (towards the bottom).
  • Join thousands of other readers and subscribe to our blog.
  • This site provides NO information on our value ETFs or our momentum ETFs. Please refer to this site.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author:

Elisabetta Basilico, PhD, CFA
Dr. Elisabetta Basilico is a seasoned investment professional with an expertise in "turning academic insights into investment strategies." Research is her life's work and by combing her scientific grounding in quantitative investment management with a pragmatic approach to business challenges, she’s helped several institutional investor achieve stable returns from their global wealth portfolios. Her experise spans from asset allocation to active quantitative investment strategies. Holder of the Charter Financial Analyst since 2007 and a PhD from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, she has experience in teaching and research at various international universities and co-author of articles published in peer-reviewed journals. She and co-author Tommi Johnsen are currently writing a book on research backed investment ideas. You can find additional information at Academic Insights on Investing.

Leave A Comment