updated 2/17/2012 12:21:00 PM ET 2012-02-17T17:21:00

Twitter today (Feb. 17) announced that you'll soon be seeing tweets for local businesses, even though you don't follow them.

In April, 2010, Twitter brought out "promoted tweets," those targeted items that appear on someone's Twitter stream, at the top of searches (like ads on Google) and also at the top of the most-popular "hashtag" topics list. (Hey, Twitter has to pay the bills somehow.) These have generally been for big companies that can afford them. But Twitter is now starting to sign up local small businesses and small Internet retailers.

People may not think to sign up for a local bakery, and they may not even know the place exists. But if it pops up because Twitter knows a person's location and what they like — perhaps they follow  cupcake bloggers  — maybe it will provide something valuable.

Companies can start signing up now in a trial program. But it won't go widespread till later this year, according to Twitter.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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