So everyone and their cat have made predictions about how “Twitter”:http://www.twitter.com/ will and could monetize (what, you haven’t heard of Sprinkles the economic forecasting cat?). I have one more idea, but it’s not because I think that this necessarily will happen so much as because I think it would be a fantastic feature to have for businesses on Twitter. The concept is ‘claiming’ a hash tag.
Now the main Twitter interface pretty much ignores hash tags, but “Twitter Search”:http://search.twitter.com/ does not and I see it as a given that hash tags are here to stay. So for hash tags that have to do with an event, a company, or other kinds of definable entities there should be a special text advertising block that can be purchased at the top of the tag search that will allow the entity that the tag is about to explain and maybe provide a few links.
For example, with all of the “endless tweets about SXSW”:http://search.twitter.com/search?q=sxsw I think it would be useful both for the SXSW organizers *and for the people looking at the tag* to have a block at the top that says something along the lines of “SXSW is a conference held yearly in Austin, TX that encompasses video, audio, and interactive media” with a couple of links to pertinent information. This provides a context to people clicking through to the Twitter Trends #SXSW tag who wouldn’t otherwise know much about the conference and gives SXSW another way to promote themselves.
This system would have to have some pretty stringent acceptance requirements, you wouldn’t want competitors to be able to claim their opponent’s tags etc. but I also think it has a lot of promise for providing a revenue stream for Twitter and actually useful information for users. I’m not a market prognosticator, and I think it’s actually pretty unlikely that this would come to pass, but I do think that it would be an interesting new way to advertise on the web.