Here at bizologie we've always been proponents of using social media for business research. This is usually how we find information on private companies, first hand customer service practices, and employee history. But now it is even more important to keep an eye on all your favorite social sites because the SEC has approved social media as an outlet for public company announcements. Back in December Netflix CEO Reed Hastings came under investigation by the SEC because of a Facebook post back in July when he mentioned that Netflix viewers had just surpassed over 1 billion hours of streaming content per month. The information about the growing hours had also appeared on the company's blog, but no official press releases came out nor did Netflix file any forms with the SEC.
The SEC saw the writing on the (online) wall and decided that they could not fight the wave of social media any longer. No action was taken against Netflix or Hastings and the SEC made it clear in a report last week that companies can release information on social media sites. The social announcements are in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) if the company makes it well known where investors can find the information and it has to be accessible to all.
Not everyone thinks this is a great idea though. Check out Jon Friedman's viewpoint on The Montley Fool.
Good or bad, more information is going to be out there in more places. You should definitely consider a tool like HootSuite to help you manage all the social news.