SINGAPORE: Nearly three-quarters of major brand owners in Asia Pacific are leveraging social media, but most allocate less than 5% of their ad budgets to this channel, a study has found.

Buddy Media, the marketing services group, polled 125 executives from agencies and clients in 18 nations, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea. In all, 74.4% of firms boasted an official strategy for this medium.

More specifically, 1.6% of companies had been present in this space for over five years, while 38.4% of contributors had been there at least two years. However, 10.4% of the sample had no strategy in place.

Some 66.4% of brands dedicate less than 5% of ad budgets to this channel today, but only 26.4% thought this would be the case in two years. By that date, social should take 5–15% of spending for 43.2% of the panel, and 15–25% for another 20%.

Heightened reach and awareness were seen as a benefit of social media marketing by 80% of those surveyed, with increased website traffic on 64%, and deeper customer insights on 61.6%.

With regard to measurement, follower numbers were tracked by 82.4% of firms, with engagement on 72%. Buzz and awareness logged 68%, amplifying broader marketing goals secured 50.4% and converting sales posted 49.6%.

"It's encouraging that so many brands and agencies are focused on using social media to engage with fans, followers and consumers," said Ken Mandel, Buddy Media Asia Pacific's managing director. "That tells me that respondents are taking a very mature ... approach to social media marketing."

Marketing departments were involved in this activity at 88% of enterprises, standing at 32.8% for corporate communications. Scores hit 29.6% for PR units and 17.6% for customer services.

Currently, 41.6% of companies use outside partners in this space, and 27.2% plan to in the future. Specialist social agencies were "most likely" to assume such a role for 42.5% of firms, with creative shops on 40% and media networks on 27.2%.

The main obstacles limiting progress in the social media arena as a whole were a lack of employee resources on 60.8%, unsatisfactory metrics on 54.4% and uncertain strategy on 40.8%.

Elsewhere, 23.2% of organisations had defined a strategy covering social media on mobile phones, and 48% intended to do so. A further 41.6% of saw this channel as "very important", and 40% rated it as "somewhat important".

Warc subscribers can access more information about this research here.

Data sourced from Buddy Media; additional content by Warc staff