Big Australian brands are investing time in social media but are not quite following through with what is needed in an ongoing capacity, according to a report from Burson-Marsteller.

According to the PR firm 40% of the companies surveyed have at least one Twitter account, but 44% of these Twitter profiles are inactive and many are not updated frequently.

The report also found that 50% of the companies surveyed have established official Fan Pages within the most widely used social network in Australia, Facebook, however 15% of these pages are inactive.

The study looked at online stakeholder engagement via corporate blogs, official Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter, examining 20 companies identified by Interbrand in its ‘2009 Australia’s Best Brands Report’.

“The study revealed a lot of inactive accounts, which could suggest ad-hoc efforts with no clear strategy for online stakeholder engagement. Only 20% of the companies surveyed have a corporate blog… (which) provide businesses with a controllable and direct form of communication – it’s therefore surprising to see the relatively low levels of adoption in Australia,” said Daniel Young, director of Burson-Marsteller Australia.

Despite these findings Young indicates are some leading lights within the 20 companies that were studied. Companies such as Telstra and Billabong were cited as examples of big brands using social media in a meaningful way.

“Many of the companies surveyed have focused their efforts on one social media channel suggesting that Australia is still in an experimentation phase when it comes to online engagement and digital PR programs,” explained Young.

The study builds on another study ‘Social Media Use by Fortune 100 Companies’, published by Proof Digital Media and Burson-Marsteller in July 2009.