A new study by Burson-Marsteller has found that less than half of Asian companies listed on the Wall Street Journal’s Asia 200 Index has a corporate social media presence.
Of those corporate brands that do have a presence, more than 55% of social media profiles are inactive. Only 18% of surveyed companies integrate their social media profiles into their corporate websites.
By contrast, Burson-Marsteller’s Fortune Global 100 Social Media Check-Up study, conducted in February this year, showed that 79% of major global companies use branded social media sites as part of their corporate communications mix.
“Asian companies need to take bolder steps to leverage the exploding use of social media channels in the region,” said Bob Pickard, president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller Asia-Pacific. “Few companies are approaching this area strategically; most appear largely driven by short-term marketing considerations, or are hampered by concerns about resourcing, cost or lack of control over message and content.”
In India, the study has observed that leading technology companies are using social media for both corporate and consumer outreach. FMCG companies usually have their product brands active in the social media space, while financial services companies often focus on providing customer support and product promotions.
“It is encouraging to find that some of the top Indian companies are adopting social media to tell their corporate stories. However it should now become a long-term strategic and not only a tactical tool for companies in India to communicate with their various stakeholders.” said Prema Sagar, principal and founder, Genesis Burson-Marsteller.
Corporate use of social media in Asia tends to focus on pushing information rather than engaging stakeholders. Only 12% of companies surveyed maintained a corporate blog, compared to 33% of global companies. Social channels are most frequently used to communicate corporate responsibility initiatives.
“True engagement involving two-way dialogue, as measured by the average number of third-party posts and the average number of corporate responses to their followers, remains limited,” said Charlie Pownall, Burson-Marsteller’s lead digital strategist for Asia-Pacific. “Instead, companies are using social media to portray a ‘softer’ corporate image in a way that is less likely to invoke interaction or negative commentary.”
Of those companies that do take a more assertive approach to social media, the study suggests that they are predominantly those most focused on international expansion. Nevertheless, the extent of this engagement is in stark contrast to global companies, particularly in respect of the use of video and multimedia to support digital storytelling.
Only 8% of leading companies in Asia have set up dedicated channels on top video sharing channels such as YouTube, Youku in China or Nico Nico Douga in Japan. This compares to 50% of global companies using such channels.
“Online social interaction is a fully mainstream activity that dominates media consumption in many markets and is a way of life for many consumers of information. Yet it is clear that top companies across Asia-Pacific lag their western peers in their strategic approach to these channels,” said Bob Pickard. "To take full advantage of this trend, Asian’s top companies must make social media a core component of their corporate marketing and communications, both at home and abroad.”
Details of the study can be accessed here.