Facebook engagement surges, marketers get Google counterweight

Adobe's Social Media Intelligence Report highlights how dominant Facebook is becoming as a social outlet for marketers and how they need to continually tweak strategies like they do when Google changes algorithms.

Facebook's ad business continued to do well in the first quarter as click-through rates increased 20 percent in the first quarter relative to a strong fourth quarter.

The data, surfaced in Adobe's Social Media Intelligence Report, lands ahead of Facebook's first quarter earnings, the company's F8 developer powwow and what's expected to be a formal launch of a mobile ad network.

Adobe's report is based on 260 Facebook ad impressions, 226 post impressions and 17 billion referred visits from social networking sites. Adobe also tracked 7 billion post interactions via its Marketing Cloud data.

For marketers, the Facebook surge highlights how they'll have to stress about the company's algorithm changes and site tweaks as much as they do Google's.

Revenue per visit from Facebook was up 2 percent quarter over quarter, but Twitter and Tumblr fell 23 percent and 36 percent, respectively. Adobe's Joe Martin, senior analysts for the digital index, said the story is more that Facebook is growing stronger not that rivals are necessarily weaker.

"It's more surprising that Facebook rose in the first quarter after such a strong fourth quarter," said Martin.

Martin added that on the advertising and marketing front, Facebook is becoming more like Google in that it is adapting its algorithms to what it thinks users want. "Facebook is making changes and marketers are trying to keep up," said Martin. "Facebook decided to reward original content that's engaging and text post engagement is way down."

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As a result, chief marketing officers need to think video for Facebook engagement and should save their best ammunition for Friday, where social engagement levels spike.

Among the highlights:

  • Facebook ad clicks increased 70 percent in the first quarter from a year ago and 48 percent quarter over quarter.
  • Brand engagement on Facebook was up 50 percent year over year. Brand posts with embedded video had 25 percent engagement growth from a year ago.
  • Facebook video plays were up 785 percent from a year ago after auto-play was added in the fourth quarter.
  • Owned Facebook revenue per visit was up 11 percent quarter over quarter, but Twitter's RPV fell 23 percent in the first quarter relative to the fourth.
  • LinkedIn drove 15 percent share of social traffic to business to business high tech sites and Facebook drove 52 percent.
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