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Investing in social media stocks

They’re trending, but stiff competition may give way to volatility.

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It’s exciting to say you own a slice of the technology you interact with on a daily basis. But social media stocks are far from secure investments. While the industry is on an upward trajectory, fierce competition may lead to increased volatility and company acquisitions.

What are social media stocks?

Social media stocks are stocks from companies that own and operate social media platforms, like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

There are plenty of pure-play stock opportunities in this category, but some larger tech companies may also be considered social media stocks if they own social media companies. For example, Amazon owns Twitch, the live-streaming video platform, and Alphabet — Google’s parent company — owns YouTube. Both can be considered social media stocks and offer exposure to this category.

Why invest in social media stocks?

As our world becomes more connected and reliant on the Internet, it’s little wonder that tech sector subcategories like social media are on the up and up. With more brick-and-mortar businesses migrating to e-commerce sales channels, online advertising has become a booming business. And in the online advertising space, social media is a sizzling slice of real estate.

Overall, the social media category is doing well. Facebook reported an 11% year-over-year increase in daily active users in its Q1 2020 earnings report. Twitter is also seeing healthy growth, reporting a 24% year-over-year increase in monetizable daily active users in Q1 2020.

And the new kids on the block are thriving, too. TikTok amassed some 315 million downloads in the first quarter of 2020, according to Sensor Tower, amounting to the biggest single-quarter uptick for any app — ever.

Risks of investing in social media

The biggest threat to an investment in social media is the inherent competition that dominates the industry — and the tech sector as a whole. This tech category moves fast and is highly competitive. And while competition can drive growth, it can also promote volatility, driving some stocks up, while crippling others.

Competition also paves the path for company mergers and acquisitions. If the social media stock you’ve invested in is acquired by another company, you may be reimbursed with cash or find your shares swapped for shares in the acquiring company, potentially disrupting your investment strategy or throwing off the balance of your portfolio.

Another consideration is the vulnerability of social media stocks to government jurisdiction. Tech companies have come under fire in recent years for infringing on data privacy rights. President Trump’s recent TikTok altercation is a prime example of this type of legislation at work. Companies may find themselves banned, limited or forced to rethink platform features in response to emerging governmental regulations.

Social media stocks

There are plenty of pure-play social media stocks on the market, like Facebook and Twitter. But you can also opt for larger tech companies with social media platforms under their belt, like Amazon or Google. Select a company to learn more about what they do and how their stock performs, including market capitalization, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, price/earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio and dividend yield. While this list includes a selection of the most well-known and popular stocks, it doesn't include every stock available.

What ETFs track the social media category?

If you’re seeking a broader approach to the social media category, consider the Global X Social Media Index ETF (SOCL). This technology sector ETF was founded in 2011 and boasts net assets of over $211 million. It primarily invests in the Nasdaq and focuses on social media stocks from the US and around the world, including Facebook, Twitter, Tencent, Naver, Spotify and Yandex.

Compare trading platforms

To invest in social media, you’ll need a brokerage account. Review platform features and fees to find the account best suited to your needs.

Name Product Stock trade fee Asset types Option trade fee Annual fee
Vanguard
$0
Stocks, Mutual funds, ETFs, Forex
$1
$20 per year
Get a personal advisor when you open an account with at least $50,000.
Robinhood
$0
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
$0
0%
Make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, funds, and options with Robinhood Financial.
Interactive Brokers
$0
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual funds, Index funds, ETFs, Futures, Cash
$0 + $0.65/contract, $1 minimum
0%
IBKR Lite offers $0 commissions, and IBKR Pro offers advanced tools for professional traders.
Sofi Invest
$0
Stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
N/A
0%
A free way to invest in stocks, ETFs and crypto.
TD Ameritrade
$0
or $25 broker-assisted
Stocks
$0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 broker-assisted
TD Ameritrade features $0 commission for online stock, but watch out for high short-term ETF and broker-assisted trading fees.
Tastyworks
$0
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Futures
Stocks & ETFs: $1/contract to open, $0 to close, $10 max/leg
Futures: $2.50/contract to open, $0 to close
0%
Trade stocks, options, ETFs and futures on mobile or desktop with this advanced platform.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.

Bottom line

The social media subcategory is growing — and fast. But industry competition and emerging data regulations may put a damper on profits.

Review your account options across multiple platforms for the brokerage best suited to your investment needs.

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