SAN JOSE: The effectiveness of social networks for marketers is growing quickly as revenue per visitor and click-through rates both increase, a new study has found. 

The Social Media Intelligence report from Adobe, the tech firm, looked at paid, earned and owned social media trends and was based on aggregated and anonymous data across retail, media, entertainment, and travel websites over the last twelve months. Paid social data used for the study was based on data from customers using Adobe Marketing Cloud.

In terms of paid social trends, Adobe said that Facebook was becoming increasingly attractive to brand marketers. Ad impressions on the platform had increased 85% while ad click volume was up 29%.

In addition, the click-through rate had leapt 275% and this, coupled with a 40% drop in the cost-per click, had enabled advertising ROI on this social network to climb 58%.

Adobe also noted that Facebook continued to dominate the share of social referral traffic to retail sites, but said its share had fallen 20% from last year's figure of 77%. Twitter, again, was growing fast, with its share up 258%, while Pinterest recorded an 84% rise.

Facebook lagged other social networks, however, when it came to the growth in revenue per visitor, where Twitter and Pinterest were amongst the major gainers. Twitter in particular registered growth of 300%, while Pinterest grew half as fast on this metric, at 150%. The equivalent figure for Facebook was a more modest 39%.

The success of brands in gaining earned media was highlighted in the finding that social engagement on Facebook had grown 115% while the number of brand postings rose only 9%. Further, brand posts containing an image produced an engagement rate 600% higher than text-based posts.

"Social media is rapidly maturing as a marketing channel, bolstered by the steps Facebook and Twitter have taken to make their audiences more accessible to marketers," said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for the Digital Index at Adobe.

"Recognising the opportunity, marketers are optimising their campaigns for social channels, and as a result consumers are now using social media much more in their purchasing process," she added. Gaffney also said that she expected this trend to accelerate during the upcoming holiday season.

The rapidly shifting nature of social media was highlighted separately by eMarketer, which noted a Piper Jaffray report suggesting US teenagers now regarded Twitter as their most important social network. 

The shares taken by the main three networks in October 2013 were 26% for Twitter (down from 30% in Spring this year), 23% for Facebook (down from 33%) and 23% for Instagram (up from 17%).

But eMarketer said these figures were not so much about Facebook versus Twitter as about teens looking for "new, potentially exciting social circles in which their parents are not present".

Data sourced from Adobe Digital Index, eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff