In the wake of talented singer Whitney Houston’s tragic passing the night of February 11th, 2012, there is one thing stood out conspicuously: the use of social media in spreading the news of her death, and in allowing fans from all over the world to express their condolences.

According to reports cited in an article by The Christian Science Monitor, around 2.5 million tweets were made within the hour after Houston’s passing, a number which soared to past 35 million in the following 24 hours. This has been recorded as the most-tweeted breaking-news event in the history of the popular social microblogging site, which allows users to express thoughts, share news, links and photos in 140 characters or less.

Twitter has already been established in the public sphere as one of the largest and most impactful distributors of news throughout the world, in addition to a social networking site. In fact, news of Houston’s death was being tweeted about long before most major media outlets had reported on it, including ones like the Associated Press and Reuters.

The power of Twitter to spread information and move people is an incredible one that is not to be underestimated. In fact, it is a great tool that must be leveraged by businesses for successful online marketing strategies. Many who were early to note the importance of Twitter have been quick to integrate it into their SEO campaigns. Twitter and other social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, and the possibly-returning Myspace are only going to become more significant to the SEO marketing plans of all businesses in the future.

Using Twitter entails a specific use and method of it when it comes to marketing. Twitter is its own community, and businesses that join it must act as a member of the Twitter-verse, as it is often called. That means continuous engagement with other members, which includes following, tweeting back at and re-tweeting others. This type of activity increases the odds that others will follow and engage with your account, raising your significance and status on the site. For businesses, Twitter is a great place and medium for advertising your products or services, but to truly increase your value as a member, and to increase the odds that members pay attention to what you are tweeting, you must actively engage with the rest of the community.

As has been exampled by news and current events like Whitney Houston’s death, Twitter can be a powerfully fast and far-reaching disseminator of information. Learning how to use this tool effectively can prove a huge boon to any business.