The way in which some of the planet’s largest media companies are acquiring social networking websites illustrates their importance, an expert has commented.

Rachel Hawkes, co-founder and editor at the Social Media Portal (SMP), said the communities are not a passing fad but will continue to be used and will evolve.

"Social networking sites act as a conduit to connect like-minded people and they are therefore still attracting members because it fuels the human need to feel part of a community," she remarked.

The acquisition of such sites by major media firms shows they are considered a "new wave" of communications, Ms Hawkes added.

A recent report prepared by JupiterResearch suggested that social media platforms could also be useful for political candidates seeking to engage their potential voters, volunteers and donators.

This, it continued, is because such networks can present marketers with a "strong concentration" of likeminded people.

Barry Parr, JupiterResearch analyst and lead author of the report, noted that bloggers often consider themselves to be politically influential, meaning they will pay close attention to relevant content.