NEW YORK: Many major companies are still failing to monitor social media or exploit the potential customer data this channel provides, a global study has shown.

Satmetrix, the software provider, polled 1,180 executives worldwide, and found 39% of the sample were not tracking the output of their target audience on social media.

This total climbed to 51% for business-to-business operators, versus 22% for consumer-facing firms, which have proved quicker to embrace the insight-gathering opportunities.

A further 55% of organisations "ignored" customer feedback on platforms like Facebook and Twitter as they had no process in place to respond.

Scores on this rose to 69% for business-to-business players, compared with 42% of their counterparts selling to shoppers.

Similarly, 67% of corporations fail to measure or quantify social media. Among those which did monitor such statistics, 56% only counted their totals of comments and "fans".

By contrast, only 4% of brands owners undertook any form of sentiment analysis, which would have enabled them to determine whether online word of mouth among web users was positive or negative.

More broadly, 60% of enterprises said they had no integrated social media strategy in place covering these areas.

Firms based in North America led the way in terms of instituting formalised procedures for responding to relevant social media buzz, bettering returns of around 25% elsewhere.

However, given that 77% of web users posted comments about goods and services online, the fact two-thirds of companies were failing to gauge the tenor and tone of these conversations was seen as highly inadequate.

"Businesses recognize the need for a social media strategy," said Richard Owen, chief executive officer of Satmetrix. "However many are challenged in putting an effective strategy in place.

"Not only are companies running the risk of losing customers by not addressing their issues shared online, but they are also walking past the opportunity to capitalise on positive comments made on the social web."

Data sourced from Satmetrix; additional content by Warc staff