Social networking sites have exploded in popularity with MySpace, Twitter and Facebook now a feature of the media landscape.
Not surprisingly many firms have also looked to exploit this new trend. But how much commercial benefit is there from a social network site?
Stephen Johnson, the regional head of digital innovation at communications agency Draft FCB, says it is very important for companies to get involved.
"Social media gives us an ability to have a direct communication with individuals in business and our customers," he says.
Johnson says regular forms of communication are often one-way whereas social media enables transparent discussion with a consumer and the ability to find out what they really want.
Social media is all about customising an experience, the brands people love, the experiences people love, staying in touch, friends and relationships, learning, and thought leadership.
"It's really empowering consumers with a voice they never really had before and that's why I think why businesses need to understand that because the communication, in terms of where the authority and power is, has really shifted," Johnson says.
He says social networks let people to create their own world and place themselves in the centre of it.
For businesses this could mean creating a "home base" such as a corporate blog, and then building "outposts" around it such as links to products, news releases and other information.
Many businesses are starting to get involved with Twitter - a microblogging social network site that has caught on with big names in entertainment like Oprah Winfrey and even the president of the United States, Barack Obama.
Johnson says businesses are realising the value of Twitter's real time communication which can be accessed via the web or text messaging.
"It's all about giving individuals access to that information and quickly."