Twitter’s founders are still trying to see some profit in their runaway success of a social media company; and businesses keep trying to make a profit of it too. Perhaps the latter have a better handle on the problem. Twitter is the latest frontier in sneaky product placement. Television shows and movies have always found a way to sell out to big money, making sure that there is a “carelessly placed” can of soft drink right at eye level with the label facing forward, or a shot that lingers unnecessarily on the area of a laptop screen where the maker’s name is emblazoned.

Businesses want to know if the fans you have on your Facebook, really do make you a minor celebrity in your circle. If they paid you for it, could you endorse a product for your social network fans, and make a difference to your sponsors? If your fans follow you on Twitter, will they follow your choice of restaurants, movies or soft drink? The idea has really taken off, and advertising promoters exist who work exclusively on product promotion on the social network scene. It is their job to convince advertisers of the effectiveness of product placement on Facebook and Twitter, and also to find influential members whose opinions and endorsements will matter.

A social network where you spend time with your friends is one of the last places you would expect to be pitched a product; that element of surprise is what the advertisers are looking for. Amazon even has a proper service in place for this, and they call it Amazon Associates. They’ll pay commissions to anyone who will refer buyers to the online retailer’s website. Friends on a regular tweet from someone they subscribe to, will, in the middle of it all, suddenly see a tweet like “Yo! Check out Bobby Crusoe’s latest track on Amazon.com – it rocks!”. Actually, a few minor television stars actually earn upward of $25,000 for a single commercial tweet. Regular people with sizable fan followings on Twitter, can make a couple of thousand dollars for a commercial tweet.

Twitter advertising companies like Izea first started placing advertisements with Twitter members with no specific warning at all. If there was a celebrity chef, and he was tapped to place an ad for a particular brand of butter, there was nothing that would tell his followers that it was not his personal opinion they were reading. Izea has made sure that that doesn’t happen anymore, after they received protests. With those initial teething problems over, social networking advertising is all set to becoming the next greatest thing in advertising.