Monetising Twitter Trending Topics

Trending TopicsI don’t like or normally use the term “monetise”, but it is the big question hanging over Twitter; how are they gonna make money from this thing?

We saw last week that Twitter have secured another found of funding described as “significant”, and so we assume that at some point these investors are going to want to see a return.

Many ideas for how Twitter might monetise the service have been put forward: paid accounts, premium accounts for brands and companies, advertising on the page, advertising in Tweets etc. But I have another thought about how Twitter might be planning to integrate advertising or paid content.

In the sidebar of the of a Twitter user’s homepage is a trending topics panel which shows the topics, keywords or hashtags being tweeted about most at that point in time. Clicking on one of these takes you to a search for that term or keywords which can be updated as new tweets appear.

Clicking on the trending topic ‘iPhone’ this morning I went to the usual list of tweets but then noticed this new, at least to me, content at the top explaining why ‘iPhone’ was a trending topic:


I’d not really got why Twitter had added trending topics to the site as it just seemed to be a tool for spammers to piggy back upon, but once you see this explanatory content it starts to make a little more sense. I can see this easily becoming advertising (Google keywords anybody?) or paid for content: each use of the word iPhone could be a link to for example. This would allow Twitter to start to generate revenue from the service and without a negative impact on the user experience. Interesting…

Of course this would make trending topics even more of a spam magnet and doesn’t address the large number of users accessing Twitter via other clients and applications, but it does point to a potential approach for Twitter to start making money.

What do you think?