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nasdaqFor the past few years, startup StockTwits has been building a Twitter-focused community for stock market investors. Now the San Diego- and New York-based company says it’s ready to start making money.

Unlike most social networking companies, StockTwits won’t try to monetize through advertising. Nor is it offering a paid, premium product for most of its users. Instead, it’s offering a new product to public companies who are looking for a different approach to investor relations.

Co-founder and chief executive Howard Lindzon described the investor relations industry as something that’s slow to innovate and often under-funded — and with 70,000 public companies around the world, there’s a potentially huge customer base. StockTwits is supposed to offer a way for companies to get their news and message out to investors in a way that goes beyond putting out press releases. The StockTwits IR Suite will give an investor relations team access to the company’s page on StockTwits (which aggregates comments from Twitter that use a company’s $(TICKER) tag), and more importantly to a dashboard that lets companies push their updates to social networks like Twitter and Facebook and then measure the results. The dashboard will also allow companies to push content to StockTwits partners like CNNMoney and Yahoo Finance.

This product has been in beta testing with companies including Dell, Hewlett Packard, and NetApp. The basic suite is free for now. StockTwits is charging an extra $99 a month for a social compliance add-on that automatically includes a link to the legally-required compliance message in each update. Lindzon said the company will unveil other add-ons, as well as other parts of its business model, but he pointed to this announcement as a sign of how “vertical social networks can become real businesses.”

StockTwits has raised $8 million from True Ventures and Foundry Group.

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