Social media is facilitating the continuation of a historical tradition, in that it allows people to recommend or warn against things, a commentator has suggested.
Asked about whether social sites have an importance when it comes to bringing in fresh custom to firms, as well as when it comes to customers' contentment, NearDesk's Tom Ball said: "Yes. it's the same as has been happening for a thousand years - if I like you and I think you're great I'll tell people and if I don't like you I'll tell people."
This sort of thing happens on social media, he said: "All of those things are happening and it is happening in various places, Twitter being the main one, Facebook being a key one and LinkedIn for some businesses."
He added: "It's all about going where your audience go - there are other sites which can be more powerful for some groups like Pinterest for photo sharing things such as crafts, or Google+ for more technical users."
According to the NearDesk CEO and founder, asking about the extent to which it is important that firms boast a presence on social media is "like saying how important is it to answer a phone or how important is it to talk to people."
"The conversation is happening, the only question is - are you a part of it?" he added.
He described social sites as simply another place in which a large number of individuals are discussing "your product, needs, problems and everything else".
There was no question over its existence, he said, but there was over whether a firm was joining in. He highlighted the importance of firms having an engagement with those who constitute their audience via social sites.
Though brands often begin by repeating a message on social media, this was not advisable, he suggested.
"I think of there being different levels - so the first level is that people normally start off by saying the same message repeatedly," he explained.
"If you imagine being in the pub and every ten minutes you say the same thing, [you would not be popular -] it's not rocket science on this."
He advised a return "to basics", and beginning "by listening and feel[ing] out what the conversation is".
At a party, people wouldn't make their entrance, following this up with conversation exclusively about the things they want to discuss, he said, adding: "You need to figure out what is the conversation and then join in at that point".
When asked about the importance of social media strategies for firms, The Face-to-Face Book writers Brad Fay and Ed Keller said recently that "all media are social".
"In our view the focus should be a social strategy - i.e. how can we get people to talk more and talk positively, about our brands?" they said.
"Start with people and understand how, why, and where they talk about your brand and use that information to set your strategy, rather than starting with the tools and technologies."
Social sites on the net could be included, they said, as could other sorts of media.
"Any application of online social media must be part of a broader integrated marketing strategy," they added.