UPDATE: 5 Predictions For Facebook Marketing This Year

The global digital marketing firm Metia Group outlines key predictions for brands on Facebook in 2012.

Metia Group outlines key predictions for brands on Facebook in the new year, based on the digital marketing company’s work with such powerhouse companies as Microsoft and AT&T. Here are the highlights.

More Engagement

Look for both brands and customers to engage more directly on Facebook. Brands are also embracing Facebook because that’s where their customers are; the top 10 consumer brands each have more than 18 million Facebook followers.

Seamless Integration

Expect brands to continue using effective social plug-ins, expanding upon the like button to add more open graph. Facebook’s own data shows that the plug-ins can increase web page referrals by an astounding 300 percent, on average.

More Investment

As metrics for measuring social media’s effectiveness improve, look for marketers to embrace Facebook’s touch points with customers over direct mail or traditional advertising. Metia says to watch for the increase in spending on social media.

Higher Rankings In Search Results

Metia expects search rankings to become more integrated with social media. Facebook makes it easier for customers to find what they are looking for based on friends’ recommendations, location-based information, and users’ preferences and activities. Facebook and other social media users will make the platform an integral part of their search behavior.

More Competition

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will compete more aggressively for users by enhancing features. For example, Metia says the introduction of Google Plus spurred Facebook to address security and privacy issues, as well as how photos and updates are shared. The timeline feature introduces a new way for brands to interact with consumers — expect the other social media sites to fine-tune their offerings in response.

UPDATE: Peter DiBart, Metia’s regional vice president, shared a few additional insights with AllFacebook this afternoon. He believes that Facebook has evolved from a destination to become the social fabric–or connective tissue–of the web. “An individual’s social profile travels with them and informs everything they do online,” says DiBart. That change is good news for marketers, who can leverage the users’ profile and information in the open graph to create truly interactive and tailored initiatives.

For businesses, DiBart is seeing companies organize around social media channels. “We are shifting away from the idea of the social media intern, to folding social media strategies into the overall business plan.” It’s no longer about social media, DiBart adds, but conducting social business, both B2B and B2C.

As for timeline, one of Facebook’s most radical changes, DiBart believes that, “(it’s) going to give organizations much more transparency in telling a narrative story about themselves, where time becomes part of their overall story.” Organizations can determine how their personal timeline will be populated now, so they can be ready to make the move to pages when that happens.