Social media plays a vital role in online advertising, an industry expert has revealed.

Gordon Borrell, chief executive of Borrell Associates, pointed out that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter “put a magnifying glass” on one of the most powerful and effective sales drivers of all: word of mouth.

He explained that before the advent of the internet, B2B marketing firms and businesses simply had to make do with people saying good or bad things about them – either in person, or on the telephone – which took some effort.

Today, however, someone can simply tweet about a company and thousands of people will see it within hours.

“We hear a lot about the internet disintermediating newspapers and television, but the biggest opportunity of all, I believe, is the disintermediation of the small gaggle of people, who could make or break a business by talking to others,” Mr Borrell said.

A recent survey of 137 marketing professionals by Pivot, a marketing conference for brand marketers, found that 87 per cent plan to increase their spending on social media marketing over the next 12 months.