UK brands are becoming increasingly open to engaging customers via social media and online forums, according to a new industry survey.

The poll, which was conducted at April’s Internet World show in London by Bing’s shopping service Ciao, found that in the previous 12 months, 62 per cent of companies had started to interact directly with consumers, end users or clients to help shape their business.

Some 37 per cent of professionals dealing with ecommerce or online marketing services said that this engagement had a positive impact.

Another 64 per cent of brands had responded publicly to online criticism – almost double the figure recorded a year earlier.

Furthermore, the proportion of companies that moderated or deleted online criticism had dropped from 18 per cent in 2009 to just two per cent this year, indicating increased openness in corporate communications.

Ciao’s Alexander Miller said: "Honesty and transparency are the bywords of social media and brands who take that on board stand to benefit from a genuine, two-way relationship with their audience."

Launched in 1999, Microsoft’s Ciao portal provides online shopping services to consumers in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands.

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