What's the Latest Development?

For Michele Obama and Rupert Murdoch, the twittersphere's latest headliners, tweeting is a way of engaging their public beyond their well-established brands. In Obama's case, Twitter gives a healthy dose of transparency. For Murdoch, perhaps there is a humanizing effect. But a personal touch is not always necessary. Large companies have taken to Twitter to improve their customer service initiatives and in many cases, it is working. Best Buy has been the most forceful, having 3,000 of its employees respond to incoming tweets.

What's the Big Idea?

A company's Twitter followers expect replies in less than a day, says communications consultant Richard Levick. That effort can often be stymied by lawyers concerned over possible litigation. But at Comcast, one of America's less image-savvy companies, Twitter has changed their customer service culture for the better. Even negative interactions on Twitter can be good since "the world can watch and listen as your company engages, fixes problems, soothes complainers, and shares insight."