NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Social media stocks seemed to many like the place to be in 2013. The three most recognizable companies provided returns well above the broad market averages. Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and LinkedIn (LNKD) have moved to the upside by an astounding 94%, 127%, and 101% percent year-to-date, respectively. In general, the real driver has been company focus on monetization and user engagement.
I have not messed with these guys in my portfolio. However, I thought it would be interesting to look at the relative search interest over time for each one of these companies. Search interest data gives investors a good insight into the strength of brand and business.
Google's Trends tool allows anyone to find the relative search interest over time for any keyword. The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. The output uses a scale from 0 to 100, a score of 100 represents the highest level of search interest for the searched keyword. It is logical to assume there is a high correlation between brand demand and search interest especially for social media companies. Let us first look at the Google search interest on Google for keyword "facebook":
Since peaking at 100 back in December 2012, relative interest for the keyword "facebook" has declined to a predicted score of 80 for December 2013. Fears of slowing user growth and engagement have made headlines in recent quarters, and it seems likely these fears are just as there has been a 20% decline in relative search interest for the brand over the last year.