PH companies slow to social media use

By Dennis D. Estopace, BusinessMirror

Posted at Nov 24 2011 07:17 AM | Updated as of Nov 24 2011 07:27 PM

None of PH companies surveyed have active corporate blogs or video-sharing services

MANILA, Philippines - Like many of their Asian counterparts, businesses in the Philippines have been slow in integrating the social media into their operations, a survey by public-relations firm Burson-Marsteller (SEA) Pte Ltd. showed.

“Enthusiasm among companies in Asia has been muted. Last year’s Asia-Pacific Corporate Social Media Study by Burson-Marsteller identified that top Asian companies had largely been hesitant to use branded social-media channels to communicate with corporate audience,” Bob Pickard, Burson-Marsteller Asia Pacific president and CEO, said.

Pickard, who flew in Manila on Monday for the 15th anniversary celebration of network affiliate Strategic Edge Inc., said the hesitation could be due to “fears of being too transparent.”

The digital times, however, are driving most companies to have fewer and fewer secrets, he said.

“We live in a time where there would be radical transparency and companies are unsure of how to proceed from here,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

The survey of 120 companies, which included 10 from the Philippines, revealed that 71 percent have active microblogs—like Twitter, Facebook, Plurk and Google+, as well as Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo in China. At least three of the Philippine companies have inactive microblogs, the poll revealed.

The companies surveyed in the study included those under the Ayala Group (four firms), the SM Group (two), Jollibee Foods Corp., Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., and San Miguel Corp. The Philippines ranked fourth among the 12 countries included in the survey.

All 19 companies in Singapore said they have active microblogs for corporate use, followed by South Korea where about 89 percent of the companies polled actively use social-media channels in their business. About 86 percent of Japanese companies polled said they have active microblogs.

None of the companies in the Philippines said they have active corporate blogs or video-sharing services.

“Initially, the chief executive would approve of having a blog but back down when they realize they have to write it. It’s very different when they ask someone to do it for them: that’s not blogging,” Pickard said.

He added that most companies would begin using the social media but forget about them after some time.

“Overall, companies in Asia continue to use the social media to ‘push’ news and information at users, rather than engage in discussions, with 33 percent of activity across Asia Pacific focusing on basic media and influencer outreach, as opposed to engagement on substantive corporate topics such as corporate social responsibility or thought leadership,” a statement by Burson-Marsteller said.

It added that only 9 percent of firms surveyed use corporate blogs for corporate marketing and communications, “despite their value in helping explain complex topics.”

Pickard said integrating the social media with business is important “not only because employees are into it but because these streams are where the action is.” Rather than be wary of the fear of transparency, Pickard said companies should “fear more what could happen to them if they’re not in the social media.”

From a PR perspective, he said, companies should be able to engage the public as fast as possible “because it is in the social media where the public is.”