Social Pressure: Competition Gains on Facebook

Facebook still reigns as the premier social media marketing channel, but Pinterest is gaining in influence and Tumblr is a serious comer, according to the Adobe Digital Index’s Q4 2013 Social Intelligence Report.  Pinterest and Twitter each wrested a share of referrals from Facebook, according to Adobe’s digital marketing research arm, which predicts that Pinterest will overtake Facebook in revenue per visit (RPV) in 2014.

“We were really bullish on Facebook ads in Q3, but in Q4 we saw some caution signs. Cost per clicks rose, but not as much as we had expected. Compared to 2012, there was not as much demand,” says Joe Martin, senior analyst for Adobe Digital Index, whose numbers were drawn on data aggregated from retail, media, entertainment, and travel sites.

Facebook still refers nearly two thirds (64%) of social media traffic, but its volume of referrals was down 15% year-over-year. Pinterest, meanwhile, rose 89% over Q4 2012. “Facebook still has the highest quality traffic—meaning highest revenue per visit—but Pinterest will eventually surpass Facebook in quality. It’s made for retail,” Martin says.

Tumblr is the social medium to watch, based on its activity in Q4, according to Adobe. While it’s barely on the radar screen with a mere 1% share (Pinterest has 17%, Twitter 19%). Tumblr’s RPV of $1.10 was only 12 cents behind Facebook’s and led Pinterest’s 93 cents. “When we were crunching the numbers and saw immense growth in Tumblr, it was a big surprise to us,” Martin says.  “Walmart and Target have very active Tumblr pages. They’re stronger visually than on Facebook. Tumblr is really Twitter beyond 140 characters.”

Facebook, whose “likes” account for 82% of all social engagement, continues to dominate advertising in the social media channel. Its ad click volume rose 125% in Q4 and its click-through rate shot up by 365%. But there were some danger signs ahead for Facebook’s future. Its CPMs rose 437% and an algorithm change announced last week that will favor posts with graphics on news feeds could force marketers to spend more to get noticed.

“Facebook’s competitors are gaining,” Martin says.

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