Fewer than half of Asian companies listed on the Wall Street Journal’s Asia 200 Index have a corporate social media presence, according to a new study by Burson-Marsteller. Among corporate brands that do have a presence, more than 55 percent of social media profiles are inactive. Only 18 percent 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 seventy-nine percent 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,” says 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.”


Corporate use of social media in Asia tends to focus on pushing information rather than engaging stakeholders Burson says. Only 12 percent of companies surveyed maintained a corporate blog, compared to 33 percent 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,” says 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.”


The companies that do take a more assertive approach to social media are predominantly those most focused on international expansion. Nevertheless, the extent of this engagement is in stark contrast to global companies, particularly in the use of video and multimedia to support digital storytelling.Only 8 percent 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 percent of global companies using such channels.