Top five best social media stocks

Even before Facebook and Twitter go to the markets, there are already a handful of pure plays in the social networking space. Here’s a look at the Top 5 social media stocks to date.

It’s becoming clear that social networking is big business – particularly on the heels of news that Global X is planning a social media ETF. Throw in upcoming IPOs from Twitter and Facebook, and it’s starting to feel like 1999. Even before Facebook and Twitter go to the markets, though, there are already a handful of pure (or nearly pure) plays in the social networking space. Here’s a look at the Top 5 social media stocks to date:

top-5-best-social-networking-stocks1) LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE:LNKD). Trading at a P/E of 646, LinkedIn isn’t cheap. The social networking site for professionals does have some interesting tricks up its sleeve, though. For one, more than a quarter of the company’s revenue comes from subscription-based services. That gives it a steady flow of incoming cash that a lot of the company’s peers don’t have. Check out my post “LinkedIn IPO: 5 things you don’t know about the professional social network” for more.

2) RenRen Inc. (NYSE:RENN). RenRen lost $64 million last year, but the company’s growth prospects as the “Facebook of China” are tantalizing. Traffic at the site is up more than 12 percent over the past three months, according to Internet stats company Alexa.com (that’s roughly the amount of time since RenRen’s IPO). Alexa ranks RenRen.com as the 16th most-visited site in China.

3) SINA Corporation (NASDAQ:SINA). OK. SINA’s not a pure social media stock play, but the company does own Weibo.com. Weibo (pronounced “WAY-bwah”) happens to be the Chinese equivalent of Twitter on steroids. Growth at the micro-blogging site is off the charts. Over the past three months, it’s shot up 865 percent. That’s got SINA (which is partially owned by Yahoo!) thinking about spinning Weibo off.

4) Taomee Holdings Ltd. (NYSE:TAOM). Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of Taomee. You probably wouldn’t have unless you’re a child with an Internet connection in China. Taomee operates safe social networking spaces for tykes. The virtual worlds the company has created are quickly morphing into the offline world, too, with bestselling books and upcoming TV and movie projects in the pipeline (Click to read our recent article: Five reasons to invest in Taomee IPO (TAOM) for more).

5) Tencent Holdings Ltd. (HKG:0700). I’ve listed Tencent in the No. 5 slot simply because you can’t buy shares in the Chinese tech giant on American exchanges (you’ll have to trade shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange). Tencent operates China’s second most-popular Web site: QQ.com. QQ’s instant messaging software is omnipresent in China. In fact, with more than 647 million users, it’s the largest online community in the world.

Honorable Mentions: Ancestry.com (NASDAQ:ACOM) and Jiayuan.com International Ltd. (NASDAQ:DATE). Read more on Jiayuan: 3 reasons to invest in Chinese dating site Jiayuan.com.

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