I've been following Peter Shankman since I saw him speak in Williamsburg, Virginia six years ago at a Public Relations Society of America meeting. He said "I believe that in the next 50 years we’re going to see PR becoming less about ‘public relations’ and more about ‘personal recommendations’." (Just like he says in this recent article.)
He is absolutely right that the word of mouth marketing that marketers are always trying to bottle is now "social word of digital opinions." A recent vacation dinner with my cousins was nearly decided on a Yelp vs Google Places debate, until someone piped in with actual experience of having been there. Bam! "I was there" weighs more than "this review says..." any day.
Additionally, I am part of an online moms' group and we regularly share how something ACTUALLY worked for us, not how it was advertised to work. With the expense and proliferation of parenting gadgets, I want to hear how it worked for you...the cost, the instructions, the colors, the durability, the functionality (and often, the washability. Gross.)
Today's successful companies should always go back to authenticity. I very much like the return to "artisan" items because I believe we can't be good at everything. Pick your niche and own it. Even if I'm not into mead or handcrafted saddles, I will admire your gusto!