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With a Little Help From Your Friends

13 November 2013 in Trading Ideas

It doesn’t necessarily take an IPO on the scale of the more-than-$14 billion market cap just bestowed this week on Twitter to wake us to the omnipresence of social networking in our lives.

No, it’s really the little stray factoids that can often be the more apt-attention getters.

For example, did you know that:

  • more Facebook profiles (5) are created per second than there are people born (4.5)?
  • YouTube reaches more adults between 18 and 34 in the US than any cable network?
  • two new members join LinkedIn every second?
  • social gamers are expected to buy $6 billion in virtual goods in 2013?1

Raise your hand if you think it sounds like high time for looking at social, not as a tool to get you through your day, but as an investment idea.

This week we’re debuting our Social Networking motif, a collection of stocks of companies with their hands in the vast array of social media platforms, from straight-up social networks and user-review sites, to online dating, gaming and professional networks.

Clearly, the hunger for hanging on social media platforms continues to expand. As Nielsen reported in its most recent social media use report, Americans spent a combined total of 121 billion minutes on social media websites in July 2012 – a completely nebulous figure until you realize that’s way up from 88 billion minutes the year before and translates to 13 minutes a day for every living US citizen.2

Citizens, or as companies like to call them, potential customers, have made their social network preferences known, and businesses are doing what they can to use social network platforms to make sure their brands and marketing campaigns continue to find their way into the consumer consciousness.

That also means businesses are eyeing its next growth markets – emerging countries like China and India where social-media usage has begun to show more rapid growth than in emerging markets. Not only is social-media use expected to grow more than 21% in the world’s Asia-Pacific region, but the Middle East and Africa are projected to grow even faster this year – at more than 23%.

Whether US social-network platform providers eventually get an unfettered opportunity to access emerging-market users (in China, particularly) remains to be seen, but the notion that consumers around the world will have buying decisions influenced by social media appears more certain.

1IACP Center for Social Media, http://www.iacpsocialmedia.org/Resources/FunFacts.aspx, (accessed Nov. 5, 2013).

2Craig Lloyd, “Americans spend over 2 billion hours on social media per month,” slashgear.com, Dec. 3, 2012, (accessed Nov. 5, 2013).

3Ryan Holmes, “The Can’t-Miss Social Trends of 2013,” fastcompany.com, http://www.fastcompany.com/3003473/cant-miss-social-media-trends-2013, (accessed Nov. 5, 2013).