The reality of social media is that it exists to further a business aim … someone has to pay for it and there are significant costs in providing the service. One of my problems with the social media phenomenon has been seeing why I want to subscribe to an advertising feed - the usual is answer is to get a discount or to be informed of new products. Traditional media provides plenty of avenues to convince me to buy stuff, my inbox is already filled with companies I already deal with. So what benefit does Twitter bring me? What justifies adding a new mechanism on top of email, RSS and websites?

I have recently seen two examples of using Twitter to provide urgent information about product problems - Twitter seems extremely well suited to this particular type of communication perhaps even enough to open the advertising floodgates further.
Two apps I use Readkit (on OS X) and Prowl (on iOS) are having issues at the moment. Both developers have Twitter feeds and have provided timely information that there is a problem, what they have done about it and in the case of Readkit a link to web page describing a work around. This timely helpful information provides a strong incentive to subscribe - and so long as the developers don’t flood me with irrelevant tweets I will stay subscribed.

Twitter appears to be good at disseminating this sort of timely technical heads up and linking to detailed information, if needed. In comparison to other media:

Twitter is less intrusive than e-mail, not all your customers may experience problems and subscriptions are managed by the receiver not the sender. E-mail, like snail mail, is addressed to the receiver and demands relevance to the recipient, lest it become just more spam.

Websites are great for detailed information and work well if the customer goes to the website. Unlike Twitter, the customer has had to seek out the information on the website. As a push media Twitter offers the advantage of allowing the supplier to show concern for the customer.

With a good reader RSS offers most of the advantages of Twitter, but at least Google thinks this format is no longer worth the effort (or too hard to monetize) as demonstrated by their shutdown of Google Reader.

In conclusion, Twitter offers a good media to get your product support messages into the hands of your customers in a form that makes the message as positive and palatable as possible. Used well, Twitter offers the opportunity to create a superior customer service experience.