BERLIN: Over three-quarters of German brand owners are now using social media to engage consumers, and plan to boost their budgets in this area going forward, a study has found.

BVDW, the digital trade body, polled 185 companies in the country, and reported 72% of the featured firms were currently affording social media a "very high" level of importance.

An additional 85% suggested this activity would become increasingly vital in the coming 12 months, the research revealed.

More specifically, 80% of businesses are active on social networks such as Facebook and 61.8% utilise microblogging properties like Twitter.

However, only 40.4% have branded channels on video-sharing platforms, of which YouTube is the leading example. Another 38.2% possess official blogs, and 29% leverage mobile apps and viral marketing tools.

When discussing budgets, 78% of the organisations represented expected social spending to expand, with 61.2% anticipating a "moderate" rise and 15.9% predicting a "strong" improvement.

A further 19% of enterprises will maintain existing expenditure rates, and a modest 3.3% are likely to cut back.

In assessing their social media campaigns to date, 83% of executives believed there had been no outright "failures", and 61% agreed these efforts typically at least paid for themselves as an investment.

Curt Simon Harlinghausen, chairman of BVDW's department for social media, said: "Social media ... has firmly established itself as an essential component in the marketing and advertising strategies of companies in Germany.

"An intelligent use of social media contributes significantly to the overall success of a company, its brands, products and services. For everyday business, and especially for brand communications, social media is already seen as essential."

Data sourced from Absatzwirtschaft/BVDW; additional content by Warc staff