Independent user-generated opinion of a product or service can be more powerful than the money put into online marketing campaigns, according to a business expert.

Caroline Waters, director of employment policy at British Telecom (BT), told delegates at the recent Work Wise UK summit that the power of social websites was highly influential on consumer attitudes.

The ability of one commentator to communicate with millions of people at the click of a mouse was something for companies to focus on.

This notion of the citizen marketer, someone who did not have a stake in a company and whose word could therefore be deemed independent and honest, should not be underestimated, her comments suggested.

The rise of user-generated content (UGC) was highlighted in a 2007 article on Entrepreneur.com; writer Frank Bell identified better technology, including bandwidth and connectivity, as factors that had fostered UGC.

Ms Waters told the summit that UGC is "ten times more valuable than all of the millions of pounds of marketing that a company can buy".

"That’s the power of technology. We have to get used to understanding how to use it," she remarked.

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