Social Media Stocks: 5 Biggest Companies in 2023

Mobile Investing
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Social media is an integral part of everyday life, and the companies behind the most popular platforms could present investment opportunities.

The world’s largest social media platforms have revolutionized the way people connect on the internet, and the companies behind these platforms can offer major investment opportunities.

This year's strong rally in technology stocks, led by Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB), is a clear example of the huge presence social media companies have in the stock market. In late April, shares of the social media giant jumped 14.6 percent on higher-than-expected earnings. The news came alongside increasing investor confidence in the broader tech industry.

“Meta earnings show the company’s commitment to cost discipline while driving accelerating N-T revenue growth and also continuing to invest in longer-term transformational technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the metaverse,” said Doug Anmuth, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM).

According to Statista, the number of monthly active users (MAUs) on social media platforms worldwide will “grow as mobile device usage and mobile social networks gain traction in previously underserved markets.” While the social media platforms with highest the MAUs are largely based in the US, social media companies in China are also quickly gaining market share.

Below is a list of the top five publicly traded social media companies based on MAU data retrieved from research firm Kepios on May 4, 2023. These social media stocks offer investors exposure to growth in the social media industry.

1. Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META)

MAUs: 8 billion

With its broad range of social media apps, it’s no surprise that Meta Platforms leads the pack on this top social media stocks list. Based in Menlo Park, California, the company controls four of the top-ranked social media platforms. In addition to Facebook (2.96 billion MAUs), Meta’s core social media products also include WhatsApp (2 billion MAUs), Instagram (2 billion MAUs) and Facebook Messenger (1.04 billion MAUs).

Following the late 2021 announcement that Facebook would be rebranding as Meta Platforms and investing tens of billions of dollars to become a market leader in the metaverse, many wondered about the company's new direction.

However, as Business Insider reported in April of this year, "According to a new report from the Information, Meta is no longer pitching the metaverse to advertisers in meetings. Instead, the company is incentivizing the use of its short-form video product Reels, while also highlighting its slew of AI tools, per the report."

2. Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)

MAUs: 2.53 billion

Next on this list of the top social media stocks is Alphabet, the parent company of Google. Google serves as a holding company for Alphabet's internet properties, including video streaming platform YouTube. While Google+, an attempt at a Facebook rival, never really took off, YouTube ranks as the second most popular social media app in terms of MAUs, and it is also the world’s largest video platform.

The website was founded in February 2005, and the world’s first YouTube video, which features co-founder Jawed Karim, was uploaded just two months later. YouTube quickly grew in popularity, and Alphabet, then Google, purchased the video streaming site for US$1.65 billion in late 2006. More than a decade and a half later, YouTube has more than 2.5 billion monthly users who generate billions of views each day. About 70 percent of YouTube views happen on mobile devices.

In 2023's first quarter, YouTube made US$6.69 billion in advertising revenues, down 2.6 percent from the same period in the previous year, as advertisers pulled back on campaigns in light of economic uncertainty.

3. Tencent Holdings (OTC Pink:TCEHY,HKEX:0700)

MAUs: 1.89 billion

Chinese multinational technology and entertainment company Tencent Holdings owns China’s largest messaging app, WeChat (1.31 billion MAUs), as well as the smaller but popular QQ (572 million MAUs), which is a messaging software service. Aside from that, the company publishes many of the world’s most popular video games and offers cloud-computing and fintech services.

WeChat and ByteDance's social media platform TikTok have come under scrutiny in recent years due to privacy and national security concerns. Since 2020, Tencent has reportedly spent US$6.3 million on lobbying the US federal government in response to former US President Donald Trump's attempt to ban WeChat.

Tencent Holdings is currently transforming its QQ chat app by embedding the video game engine Unreal Engine and launching a new feature called Super QQ Show, a 3D interactive space that allows users to connect socially, watch shows and play games.

4. Snap (NYSE:SNAP)

MAUs: 750 million

Top social media stock Snap joined the stock market scene after its initial public offering in 2017. The company’s social media app Snapchat launched in 2011 and allows users to determine how long the messages and images they send are viewable by the recipient. While Snapchat is a highly popular app among Millennials and Gen Z consumers in the US, in recent years its Indian userbase has grown substantially, sitting at 182.35 million MAUs compared to the US' 108.8 million MAUs as of April 2023.

In early 2022, Snap announced the renewal and expansion of content deals with Disney (NYSE:DIS), ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) and Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBCUniversal Media; the deals include short-form video offerings created for Snapchat’s Discover area. In early 2023, the company inked two new content partnership deals, one with the Women’s World Cup and the other with NBCUniversal for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

5. Kuaishou Technology (OTC Pink:KUASF,HKEX:1024)

MAUs: 640 million

The last top social media stock on this list is Beijing-headquartered Kuaishou Technology, which went public in 2021. It operates the country’s second largest short video sharing app for mobile devices, Kuaishou.

In January 2022, Kuaishou signed a global licensing agreement with France-based Believe (EPA:BLV), which operates TuneCore, a DIY digital music distribution platform. Kuaishou previously inked a similar agreement in 2021 with the third largest recording company in the global music industry, Warner Music Group (NASDAQ:WMG).

In a March 2023 earnings call, Kuaishou CEO Cheng Yixiao emphasized the company's commitment to investing in emerging technologies, specifically generative AI.

What are the biggest privately owned social media stocks?

All of the companies listed above are publicly listed, but some of the most popular social media apps are run by privately owned companies. Here are a few behemoths:

  • ByteDance — Beijing-headquartered ByteDance is the owner of video-focused social media platform TikTok (1.09 billion MAUs). It should be noted that TikTok is now the subject of a potential countrywide ban in the US. TikTok is based off of the company's app Douyin (730 million MAUs); while TikTok was created for a global audience, Douyin is targeted at a Chinese userbase.
  • Telegram — Telegram (700 million MAUs) is an online messaging app created by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov. It has gained popularity because it prioritizes speed and privacy.
  • Sina — Chinese tech company Sina has four business areas, one of which is Sina Weibo (586 million MAUs). The microblogging tool is one of China's largest social media platforms.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2015.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Technology for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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