The interaction between customer and business has absolutely changed over the years. When communities were full of small businesses, word-of-mouth and the reputation of the business would quite literally make or break them. As large corporations began to take over many small businesses, the customer lost their voice and the impact they had with their buying power.
The power of social networking is in the value of it's audience. A recent survey came out showing that 50% of consumers value a brand's Facebook page more than it's website. So what does this say about the power of social networking? Since social networking technology became available, consumers have changed the way they research, communicate, and interact. 5 years ago the "like" button didn't exist, and now it's just as common as a website.