SINGAPORE: Over 80% of major brand owners in Asia Pacific are now utilising social media, but many have failed to make the most of these channels to engage consumers, a study has revealed.

Burson-Marsteller, the consultancy, assessed how effectively 120 of the region's leading firms, as listed in the Wall Street Journal's Asia 200 index of the area's top companies, were performing in this field.

Some 81% of businesses tracked had a branded presence on social media – defined as microblogs, social networks, video-sharing sites and corporate blogs – a figure that had grown from 40% in 2010.

More specifically, 31% of enterprises utilised three of these channels, 17% used two, 19% leveraged one and 14% exploited all of them. This meant only 19% of operators were entirely absent from this space.

All of the featured Malaysian enterprises employed social networks, standing at 90% for their peers in China and Thailand, but only 40% in Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan, and 30% in Singapore.

Advertisers in South Korea showed the strongest enthusiasm for microblogging, with an uptake rate of 90%, ahead of China's 80% and India's 70%, the same score as logged by Japan.

Elsewhere, 80% of Malaysian firms uploaded content to video-sharing sites, as did 70% of operators in Japan and Thailand. South Korea led the blogging charts on 90%, with China in second on 50%.

Less positively, 62% of microblog accounts were found to be "inactive", as no official posts were made in the study period. This total hit 53% for social networks, 54% for blogs and 77% for video-sharing sites.

Moreover, only 38% of firms had added links to their social media accounts profiles on the homepages of official brand websites, and a modest 23% had installed social sharing buttons.

"Companies in Asia are approaching Western levels of adoption but there's a long way to go when it comes to community engagement in cultures where 'face' remains more important than Facebook," said Bob Pickard, president/CEO of Burson-Marsteller Asia Pacific.

When assessing the content of the posts made on social media by Asian firms, 33% were linked to media and influencer relations, 23% concerned corporate social responsibility and 20% related to "thought leadership".

Another 10% took the form of messages from senior executives and 8% were based around "crisis or issue management", like dealing with potentially harmful customer service complaints.

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