By Jason Theodorou

Twitter will begin to feature promotional trending topics, as part of an ongoing commercial strategy for the social networking website. Brands will be featured more prominently in users' search results and news feeds.

An extra trending topic will be added to existing trending topics, under the label 'Promoted' to make it clear to readers that it is a paid result. Users can click on the promoted 'trending' topic to see all conversations relating to the term, which is highly attractive to sponsors hoping to increase interest in a product or service. It is also potentially risky, as the company has no control over what users are saying.

Twitter expert Mark Shaw said that the service would need to be fine-tuned before advertisers saw the results they desired. He said: 'The difficulty [Twitter] will face is that people's promotions will appear as a 'trending topic', but they don't necessarily know the context of how it is being trended'.

'If the word 'cheap flight' is trending, that would be a great opportunity for an airline company such as EasyJet. But if the user is searching for 'plane crash', that would be an inappropriate place for the promoted trending topic to appear'.

Shaw suggested that Twitter should model their approach on Google, whose 'non-intrusive' adverts 'appear in conjunction with what's being searched for by users'.

Disney have been making use of the promotional trending topic service, with promotions for Toy Story 3 appearing in search results as the 11th 'Promoted' trending topic.

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