Australian companies have a low social media presence compared to other major markets, according to a new study.

The study found that just 40% of Australian companies have a social media presence, with the global average at 79%. PR firm Burson-Marsteller examined the social media presence of companies in Australia and the Asia Pacific region, using the Wall Street Journal’s Asia 200 Index to survey companies such as Woolworths, Qantas and Westpac.

The most used form of social media by the companies surveyed are microblogs at 30% and video sharing sites at 20%. The study found that of companies that did have a social media presence, 15% of those profiles were inactive, and 30% have integrated their profiles into their corporate sites.

The study found that companies are using social media as a way of disseminating information instead of engaging in a two-way conversation.

Burson-Marstellar Australia director of technology practice Stephanie Aye said: “True engagement involving two-way dialogue remains limited for Australian companies and those across the Asia Pacific region.

“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.”

Burson-Marstellar Asia Pacific president and chief executive Bob Pickard said: “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”.

Jean Revell