NEW YORK: The vast majority of the world's biggest companies are now active on social media, with firms like IBM, Ford and Hewlett-Packard leading the way.

Burson-Marsteller, the PR network, assessed the Web 2.0 output of the Fortune Global 100, a list housing Wal-Mart, Toyota, General Electric, China Mobile and Procter & Gamble.

It analysed the uptake of microblogs such as Twitter, social networks including Facebook, video-sharing platforms like YouTube and corporate blogs.

Overall, 84% of the organisations monitored use at least one channel, an increase of five percentage points on a study published last year.

More specifically, 67% of Asian operators leverage such communications tools, improving from 50% last year, but Europe was flat on 89%, and the US logged a two-point decline, recording 84%.

A quarter of contributors exploit all four routes, hitting 34% in the US and 33% in APAC - both growing on an annual basis - while Europe remained static, registering 15%.

"Global companies are now demonstrating greater comfort with the interactive nature of social networks and are more willing to engage their stakeholders directly on these platforms," said Mark Penn, Burson-Marsteller's worldwide ceo.

In all, 80% of Fortune 100 members are regularly discussed by Twitter's audience, and 77% currently boast accounts on this or alternative microblogs.

The latter total reached 83% in Europe, measured against 72% for their US counterparts, and 67% when considering rivals based in Asia.

The average number of feeds also grew from 4.2 to 5.8, with IBM alone boosting its representation to 76 profiles, having previously controlled 43.

Wal-Mart nearly trebled its amount of official accounts, on 39, while in Asia, LG manages 18, Sony 16 and Nissan 11, all significant annual gains.

Two-thirds of businesses uploaded tweets intended for individual users by using the "@" symbol, when under 40% did so in the last report, indicating stronger interest in engagement and genuine conversation.

A further 57% retweet posts from other sources, a 32% increase year on year, and a metric where Asian corporations lodged 62%, beating 59% and 50% respectively for US and European competitors.

In all, 88% of brands' Twitter accounts focus on news and information, 40% provide customer service, 28% cover deals, promotions and contests, and 10% are careers-orientated.

Elsewhere, 61% of this group have proved similarly keen on Facebook, ranging from 72% of America's largest enterprises to 40% in Asia Pacific.

Hewlett-Packard runs 51 separate brand pages and Ford supports 23, substantially ahead of the overall score, standing at 4.2 pages.

Asian companies enjoyed an average of over 120,000 "likes" from netizens on Facebook, US multinationals attracted 102,000 followers and European firms yielded almost 46,000 affiliates.

Some 84% of Facebook profiles are modified once a week or more, 74% allow "fans" to make comments, and 57% respond to such feedback.

Turning to YouTube, uptake levels reached 60% in Europe and 55% in Asia, both improvements, but the US dipped by three percentage points, on 56%.

Usually, advertisers run less than two channels apiece on this platform, although IBM has 21, General Electric 12 and Ford 10.

The typical Asian had channel secured 1.8m views - aided, among others, by Sony, Toyota, and Hyundai -doubling American ratings, and seven times the number delivered by European firms.

Blogs saw the slowest growth, expanding three percentage points to 36%, and witnessed a six-point slide in Asia Pacific, to 44%, equalling the US total, and still easily surpassing Europe's 28%.

Organisations ran 6.8 blogs on average, with IBM again topping the charts, on 86, and Hewlett-Packard offering 83.

Data sourced from Burson-Marsteller; additional content by Warc staff