NEW YORK: A large majority of brand owners are suffering from a profound "disconnect" between their aspirations and actual performance on social media, a new study has found.

Weber Shandwick, the PR firm, and Forbes Insights, a unit of the business publisher, polled 1,897 senior executives representing high-revenue companies, with their panel based in 50 countries worldwide.

In all, participants believed social channels were responsible for shaping 52% of brand reputation at present, up from 44% last year.

When attempting to quantify the likely contribution to brand reputation yielded by platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in three years, respondents pegged this total at an average of 65%.

To date, some 87% of organisations have formulated an official strategy covering this area, but 84% did not think their capabilities were up to "world class brand standards" as yet.

Equally, while 93% of corporations are employing at least one social media channel, only 63% have fully integrated Web 2.0 platforms into their wider marketing and communications strategies.

"There is a disconnect between theory and reality when it comes to socialising a brand," said Chris Perry, Weber Shandwick's president of digital communications. "To be a fully socialised brand, leaders need a new blueprint."

More broadly, 54% of interviewees stated that the potential rewards of utilising this medium outweighed the risks, while 23% adopted the opposite view, and 20% posited that the balance was fairly even.

Among the best practices adopted by "world class" operators in the social space were employing a dedicated social media strategist or manager: 86% of these firms did so, versus 71% of all companies.

Similarly, 61% of the top performers coordinated this aspect of their operations from a single department, a figure falling to 41% across the survey panel as a whole.

Moreover, half of the category-leading enterprises are now focusing the majority of their social efforts on mobile, and the same number expect tablets and smartphones will continue to exert a transformative effect going forward, nearly doubling the norm.

The main objectives for using social media included boosting loyalty and brand recognition, both on 32%. Finding new buyers and improving customer service hit 31%, while strengthening brand reputation and quickly broadcasting information logged 28%.

Data sourced from Weber Shandwick; additional content by Warc staff