It is important for organisations to focus on managing their reputations online as more consumer use social media for product research and reviews.

This is according to Universal McCann’s Tom Smith, who wrote in a post on the Mashable blog that recent research by his company showed that more than 29 per cent of web users have commented on a brand or product in a blog.

Just over a quarter of consumers have also commented on a brand or product on a social networking profile, the expert noted.

This means that companies must act to proactively manage their online PR strategy, ideally through openness and honesty, he explained.

"Companies should share their inner workings. Mistakes have to be admitted quickly and control has to be loosened to allow consumers to discuss, share and interact with your brand," Mr Smith advised.

In January this year, the European Interactive Advertising Association published research suggesting that Britons are the most likely to switch brands after seeing relevant information on the web about a particular product or service compared with other European consumers.

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