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Burson-Marsteller study shows top Aussie companies lagging on social media

28 October, 2010

SYDNEY — Less than half of the top Australian, and Asian, companies listed on the Wall Street Journal‟s Asia 200 Index have a corporate social media presence, according to a new study by leading global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller.

The study examined the social media presence of some of Australia‟s best known brands – including Woolworths, Qantas, Westpac and Westfield – alongside the top companies in eleven other countries across the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia compared favourably with the Asia-Pacific region as a whole in terms of the use of social media where companies do have a presence. The study found that, of those Australian companies that do have a presence, more than fifteen per cent of their social media profiles are inactive, compared to over fifty-five percent for Asia-Pacific. Only thirty percent of those Australian companies have integrated their social media profiles into their corporate websites, but this was compared to just eighteen percent in the region as a whole.

By contrast, Burson-Marsteller‟s Fortune Global 100 Social Media Check-Up study, conducted in February this year, showed that seventy-nine percent of major global companies used branded social media sites as part of their corporate communications mix – demonstrating that the top companies in the Asia-Pacific region are lagging behind the rest of the world.

The study found that corporate use of social media in Australia, and across Asia-Pacific, tends to focus on pushing information out rather than engaging with stakeholders. Social channels are most frequently used to communicate corporate social responsibility initiatives.
“True engagement involving two-way dialogue remains limited for Australian companies and those across the Asia-Pacific region,” said Stephanie Aye, Director of the Technology practice, Burson-Marsteller Australia. “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.”

In general, Australian companies were found to be focused on leveraging the perceived „viral‟ potential of social media by trying to push content as far and wide as possible. In line with this, the Australian companies surveyed are using microblogs (30 percent) and video sharing sites (20 percent) more than any other social media channel. Across the Asia-Pacific region, only eight percent of top companies have set up dedicated channels on leading video sharing sites, such as YouTube, Youku in China and Nico Nico Douga in Japan. This compares to fifty percent of global companies that were found to be using such channels.

The use of social networks was relatively low, at just 10 percent, despite the huge popularity of Facebook in Australia. The use of corporate blogs in Australia was particularly low – none of the companies surveyed had a corporate blog – the lowest in the region. In the Asia-Pacific region overall, only twelve percent of the companies surveyed maintained a corporate blog, compared to thirty three percent of global companies.

“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.”

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.
“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 in Australia, and across the region, are lagging behind their peers in other parts of the world in their strategic approach to these channels,” said Aye. “To take full advantage of this trend, Australia‟s top companies must make social media a core component of their corporate marketing and communications.”

About the Burson-Marsteller Corporate Social Media Study
The Burson-Marsteller Social Media Study is a review and analysis of social media activity by 120 major companies across 12 markets in Asia-Pacific; Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. The companies surveyed comprise the top 10 companies per country as ranked in the 2009 Wall Street Journal Asia 200 Index. The full Index can be viewed online at:

About Burson-Marsteller
Burson-Marsteller (, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, advertising and web-related services. The firm‟s seamless worldwide network consists of 67 offices and 71 affiliate offices, together operating in 98 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Brands, a subsidiary of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), one of the world‟s leading communications services networks.

For more information, please contact:
Stephanie Aye
Burson-Marsteller Australia
Tel: +61 2 9928 1500
For further information visit our website: or follow: @BMaustralia.

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