Adobe's latest report on the digital marketing sector for Q1 2012 shows Facebook spend has grown by 93 percent year-on-year. On a relative basis, this represents three to five per cent of search spend, indicating social media continues to be a "strong, digital advertising channel", the authors of the report claim.
Consumer engagement also seems to be improving for brands using social networks. Facebook post engagement increased 176 per cent year-on-year.
"Engagement in the brands' Facebook posts have increased dramatically since the beginning of this year," the report states. "This may be due to the new platform changes Facebook has made in the last two quarters. The most significant lifts were seen immediately after the release of Facebook Timeline for brands."
For the rest of 2012, Facebook cost per click (CPC) rates are expected to decelerate, according to the report. "While Facebook ad CPC rates have increased 40 per cent quarter-over-quarter for the past three quarters, CPC rates on Sponsored Stories tend to be lower than Marketplace Ads, which may contribute to temporary decreases in CPC rates," the authors explain.
Facebook engagement rates will continue to grow as more brands convert to Timeline for brands format. Adobe says brands measuring the success of Facebook via engagement are likely to spend more on advertising on the social network to build their audiences and engage with fans.
Engagement is linked to trust, and separate research indicates that more people are prepared to put their faith in brands' social media messages. Sponsored ads on social networking sites are seen as credible by 36 per cent of global consumers, according to a study by Nielsen.
But social media adds another dimension for brands – recommendations from friends, which may be the key driver of higher engagement rates. According to Nielsen, 92 per cent of people trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, well above all other forms of advertising.