Social trading is the process through which online financial investors rely on user generated financial content gathered from various Web 2.0 applications as the major information source for making financial trading decisions. Social trading introduces a new way of analyzing financial data. Until recently, investors and traders were relying on fundamental and technical analysis to form their investment decisions. Now investors and traders can integrate into their investment decision-process social indicators that are fuelled by a transparent real-time trading data-feed of all the users in the social trading network. This is now being introduced as social financial analysis. Social trading has also been associated with a variety of online social trading networks These social trading networks can be considered a subcategory of online social networks.
Social trading allows traders to trade online with the help of others. Social trading shortens the learning curve from novice to experienced Forex trader. Traders can interact with others, watch others take trades, then duplicate their trades and learn what prompted the top performer to take a trade in the first place. By trade copying, traders can learn which strategies work and which do not work, without risking their entire portfolio. Despite the influx of new social trading platforms, numbers still continue to increase showing a relevant and growing interest in the activity.
The number of social trading networks continues to increase as brokers see them as new growth engines for converting new and retaining old clients. Social trading increases participation in the market and leads to a greater volume of trades going through.
Prior to the emergence of the Internet, financial trading was characterized by the relationship between customers and brokers and was centered upon the physical locations of bourses and exchanges. Traditional notions of social trading consisted of people following successful traders via newsletters. As the internet has gathered momentum electronic trading has become a major focus for the trade in financial assets amongst individual investors. The emergence of Web 2.0, Facebook and Twitter in particular, was followed in the financial trading industry with financial traders becoming early adopters of the knowledge-sharing capacities provided. Financial traders perceived these services as new sources of information, which was financial, economic or technical in its essence. Online financial trading companies have exploited the popularity of the new social networking channels and it is in this context that fully fledged social trading networks have emerged, taking online social networks as their model. Among the first such networks were eToro, Zecco.com and Currensee, soon followed by FXStat or ZuluTrade.
With the assimilation of Web 2.0 properties in almost every trading platform, financial traders have begun to follow information that is accessible through these services, and which is social rather than financial. By being part of a social trading community, traders can use detailed statistics and historical analysis of trade performance to evaluate which traders to follow and copy on a social network. This is done either explicitly (by intentionally following the trading activities of one or more selected traders, either manually or automatically), or implicitly, as one's trading decisions are unintentionally influenced by the trading activities of other traders. Social trading networks are now offering bridges and plug-ins allowing traders to directly connect to their trading platform. In October 2012, MetaQuotes Software, maker of popular trading platforms MetaTrader 4 (MT4) and MetaTrader 5 (MT5) announced the ability to combine the abilities of signals copying within social trading on via their platforms.
Information Flow - Social trading involves the free flow of information between individual financial investors. Unencumbered access to information is held to be of premium importance in financial trading  and that makes the free exchange of information of interest to small scale as well as individual investors.
Cooperative Trading - Social trading offers traders the opportunity to work together in trading teams which can trade the markets collaboratively, whether by pooling funds, dividing research or through sharing information.
Monetization - As with social networks in the broader sense, the monetization strategies in play within the social trading phenomenon are not always clear. At launch, Currensee’s sole recorded revenue source was an introducing brokers deal it negotiated with AvaFX. As with social networks in general, it is possible, however, that the long-term worth of such websites may come from the variety and depth of data about their users which their active communities are likely to generate.
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