Businesses need to ensure they are active in social media, in order to be able to influence what is said about them.
This is the view of Rebecca Pain, senior consultant at thebluedoor, who said that being inactive over the medium allows customer to "run amok" with companies' reputations.
She claimed that setting up networking sites allows the firm to influence the way people engage with it and what they sat about the company.
"Your customers understand you better than you understand them," Ms Pain suggested.
"Is that how you want it to be? Your customers talk to each other about your company more than you do. How can you creatively own the conversation?"
She claimed that a strategic approach to social media not only gives a business focus and reputation management tools, but real impetus to embrace the opportunities that social media can provide.
"Without a strategy, it's all too easy for companies to knee-jerk in their reactions to opportunities and crises," Ms Pain claimed.
"It's well-known that customers are now making and breaking brands, because they have a voice and a business ignores this at their peril."
She said that from customer services to marketing, social media and wider digital communications are key to the future success of many sectors.
They offer creative ways to reach customers at the speed to which they are becoming accustomed, over a platform they are comfortable with
"Suppliers who fear social media, or choose to bypass it, will themselves be bypassed - it's a fact of life," the expert warned.
And with the business environment increasingly competitive, this is a chance companies can ill-afford to take.
Posted by Jenny Arthur