I’m not really comfy with this title honestly, but guess it conveys what its supposed to, right ?No ? Okay let me try and make things clear and possibly put things into perspective.
Trending topics are a huge addiction on Twitter. Period. They’re like shots. You have one, and you want more, you can’t just stop at one. Okay, wrong example, but the thing is Trending topics can get you intoxicated.
Trending topics are user created hashtags that gets popular and if the volume is right get featured on Twitter’s list of most discussed topics. That’s a raw an unpolished definition.
Hashtags were popularized during the San Diego forest fires in 2007 when Nate Ritter used the hashtag “#sandiegofire” to identify his updates related to the disaster.
Trending Topics is sort of a wrong name for the thing in my opinion. It should rather be “Most discussed hashtags” or “Active discussion topics” or something, that’s more sensible and meaningful. Trending is probably the second nature. Like the “most discussed topic, which is getting some traction globally” – makes things more clear isn’t it ? Unfortunately, Twitter thinks “Trending Topics” is a more cool name, and I have to agree. So, when does a hashtag become a trending topic, and when does it make it to the top ? What can one do to make a topic trend on Twitter ? Let’s find out.
1. You cannot trend a topic if you tweet more frequently.
This is tested and proved from my experience. Many people think that if you tweet more about a hashtag, like adding a hashtag to every tweet of yours, you can make that hashtag trend. Wrong. Hashtags depend to a certain level on frequency but that’s not all, they have to be diverse and collective. That means if you have five friends, and they add a hashtag to all of their tweets, its very unlikely that hashtag trends.
2. More than number of Tweets, its the number of people tweeting about a hashtag that matter.
That’s the most simple version of it. The most important factor for a hashtag (or topic) to trend depends on how many people are tweeting about it. And of course, the whole equation is relative to the number of people active on Twitter. But talking about things in perspective, its better to have 100 people tweet about a single hashtag less frequently, than 5 people tweeting the same hashtag more frequently to make it trend. The frequency becomes secondary nature here, but the volume or number of people tweeting is the primary focus.
3. More people, using the same hashtag, more frequently at a steady pace
That’s the formula if you are looking for one. Think about it, its natural is it not ? Let’s say we have an event like an Oscar night, and even without someone trying, its likely that more people from around the world tweet about it at the same time. That’s a natural trending topic. An artificial one (someone trying to game it) cannot possibly match the volume of a natural trending topic.
4. Size doesn’t matter but Time Zones does.
If you’re outside the U.S, you’d already know what I mean. Certain times are favourable for region specific natural trending topics. Let’s say an event that’s taking place in the U.S in the morning, will have a chance to trend naturally as more and more people start tweeting about it in the day time there. At the same time, its night/ dusk at other parts of the world, and it might not be wise to artificially trend a topic at that time, as naturality favours the U.S twitter users. Similarly, for an event that’s happening let’s say in India during the afternoon would have a good chance to trend, with less effort that at night (in India).
But, how can I trend my own hashtag ?
That’s the question everyone asks. So you have a conference, or a tweetup, and you want to trend the hashtag, your buddies came up with. Here’s what you can try doing.
1. Select a time zone that’s favourable.
See what the trending topics are at the moment, is there a major event around the corner, or is there a major product release from Apple ? If there’s one, you might want to postpone your tweetup. If not, select the best time for it, let’s say if you’re in India, around afternoon might give you the best mileage.
2. Gather a group of interested people who can support you.
If possible, an influential guy on Twitter. Get him interested to your topic, or if he is not, convince him your cause and get him to tweet a few tweets for you around that time with the hashtag. Most people agree if they see something in return, like letting them start the hastag and getting the credit for it, while all you want is the topic to trend after his tweet.
3. Make it fun and open the hashtag to others to take away.
One mistake most people do (especially at conferences) is that they speak within their circle, not letting others join and leaving them to guess what’s going on. This might piss off people. Make it fun, ask questions, and allow more people to participate. Remember, the more the merrier.
4. Run a quiz, host a show.
This is a good strategy if you can pull it off well. Its easy to screw up but if you get the basics right, its easy to make it a success. It also depends a lot on what you can offer. You can either run a quiz, where one nominated person (or many) asks questions and seeks replies with the particular hashtag. If you can’t find people interested, add in some value by giving away a prize that fits your budget and is equally a pulling factor for others. For geeks things like an iPod, or a Gift voucher can work. Remember, its not about what you give but how you present it.
You can of course come up with something better than a quiz, just think about the ways to get more people interested, and break out from your circle, give people something to chew on and enjoy.
So there you have it, some clues on what makes a trending topic on Twitter, and what does not. Many a times people set out to trend topic without knowing how to, and we see this everyday. Hope this guide help them.
Here are some sites and tool that help you with organizing, starting and making popular a trending topic on Twitter.