SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter announced Tuesday that it is introducing advertising by allowing companies to pay to have their messages show up first in searches on its site.
The debut of "Promoted Tweets" comes as Twitter increasingly faces questions about how it can turn its wide use into profits.
The ads apparently won't bring in much money during the experimental phase of Twitter's commercial push. Best Buy, Sony Pictures, Starbucks and Virgin America are among the companies using Promoted Tweets.
Twitter, launched in 2006, said the ads should be appearing in all relevant searches within the next few days.
About 69 million people worldwide used Twitter.com last month, up from roughly 4 million at the end of 2008, according to comScore Inc.
The site has been slow to capitalize on that success — even though the investors who have backed the site have valued it at $1 billion.
In a blog post Tuesday, company co-founder Biz Stone said the company took its time "because we wanted to optimize for value before profit." Stone said if a Promoted Tweet isn't replied to or forwarded by other users, it will disappear.