SYDNEY: Companies in Australia are "lagging behind" when it comes to leveraging the potential of social media, new figures show.

KPMG, the business services firm, surveyed 1,850 executives and 2,016 more junior staff in ten countries to understand how brand owners are using platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Breaking out the Australian data, it reported 42% of local organisations had already embraced social media, 50% are not yet pursuing such a policy, and 8% were unaware of their company's stance.

This compared with adoption rates of 87% in China, 72% across the US and 70% when discussing India, although Australia did come in ahead of Japan, logging 27.5%.

Corporations in Brazil, China, India and America also led the pack regarding the range of purposes in which they planned to execute social media programmes.

Firms from Australia, Canada, the UK and Germany were more conservative in their approach to fields like "listening" or creating dedicated social media teams and budgets.

Among the areas where active Australian companies were internationally competitive was measuring the success of the programmes implemented, on 33%, the same total as the US, and only slightly behind the 38.9% registered in Brazil.

Similarly, 33% of Australian organisations boasted an official strategy related to social media platforms, reaching 34% in Sweden and 46.1% in Brazil.

Elsewhere, 37.5% of operators from Australia that were pursuing social media schemes had created policies governing their output, trailing the 38.9% posted by their Brazilian counterparts.

"Given Australians are one of the highest users of social media networks in the world, our businesses have a huge advantage in being able to leverage this channel for a business benefit," Malcolm Alder, national managing partner of KPMG's digital economy practice, said.

"Compared with other countries, Australian businesses are not capitalising on this online 'buzz' to listen to what their customers are saying, or to sell their products and services."

Data sourced from KPMG; additional content by Warc staff