In requests for more information about our Twitter party and Twitter chat services, we are often asked, “How can I get my hashtag to become a trending topic on Twitter?”
The question’s frequency makes sense: To have your hashtag or brand name displayed along Twitter’s ‘trending topics’ column is a coveted position, with the top or ‘promoted’ trend costing an advertiser a reported $120K to achieve it. Trending topics are seen and monitored by millions of sets of eyes per day; to be one of them can be game-changing for a company. When a user clicks on a trending topic, they will see a list of all recently-tweeted tweets that contain that term. For companies, this means having more people learn about them and get introduced to their products and services. And free advertising that could be seen by millions is impossible to resist.
What exactly makes a topic trend?
According to Twitter, “an algorithm determines which topics are ‘trending’ in the location you’ve selected. This algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis.” What this means is, one million people each day might tweet Justin Bieber’s name, but sheer volume doesn’t make a topic trend. A trending topic usually represents a surge of tweets, even if the volume is less than that of a topic tweeted about regularly. It’s Twitter’s way of trying to keep is users aware of what is current and newsworthy. If sheer volume was the only factor, Justin Bieber might be the top trending topic every day for years, making the whole point of having trending topics useless.
How do I do it?
Often a trending topic is something that is newsworthy that suddenly becomes talked (or tweeted) about by a large number of people at the same time. For example, an event being watched on t.v., such as an awards show or sporting event, are likely to become part of a trending topic due to the number of people who are likely to tweet about it at or around the same time. So there is the element of timeliness as well as volume that seems to make for a trending topic. Your goal then should be to get a lot of people tweeting your hashtag at the same time. If you do not have a national stage to work with (such as a high profile t.v. show or event), then a great way to attempt to achieve this is a Twitter event, such as a Twitter chat or party. Twitter parties occur at a specific time, have a certain hashtag that people will tweet to be included in the event, and usually have a significant number of attendees online at the same time who will tweet using that tag. However, simply deciding to have an event and holding it won’t guarantee that your hashtag trends; you still have to put together a quality event with a skilled host, informative content, noteworthy or high-profile guest contributors and awesome prizes and special offers to really get some buzz. We’ve found that those elements are a big draw when it comes to Twitter parties, and are most likely to get tweeted about. However, there is a downside to becoming a trending topic during a chat: hashtag spam. Once you’re topic starts trending, beware of spammers hijacking your tag by using it to promote their own links completely unrelated to yours. Be prepared to offer followers of your chat an alternative hashtag to switch to for purposes of the chat, to steer clear of spammers and get the chat’s conversation back on track.
How not to do it.
Twitter has specific guidelines for hashtags and tweeting that, if not followed, could get your account flagged when trying get your hashtag to trend. If you see another topic trending and try to get your hashtag noticed by including it in a tweet along with the other trending topic’s hashtag, that is considered spammy and unacceptable (Twitter does not like unrelated hashtags in tweets; it’s misleading). Repeatedly tweeting you hashtag, or encouraging others to do as much as possible so as part of a tweeting contest, in an attempt to get it trending without adding value to the conversation the hashtag is part of is another no-no (tweeting contests are acceptable if limited to one tweet per day). Also, taking a trending topic hashtag and tweeting out links to your profile or website along with those trending tags is another way to get into trouble. On Twitter, like everywhere else on the web, organic is good. Create hashtag tweeting opportunities that are natural and not forced. While it’s great to get a topic to trend, it’s even better to provide excellent content to your followers, become a value to them, and remain in good standing with Twitter.
With ‘Tailored Trends,’ Are Trending Topics as Valuable as They Once Were?
Recently, Twitter allowed users to get ‘tailored trends’ — or to turn their list of trending topics into a column customized just for them. Twitter says this about tailored trends: “Trends offer a unique way to get closer to what you care about. Trends are tailored for you based on your location and who you follow.” To turn this setting off or on in your own account, go to the “change” button next to the trending topics column. Click on that, and you’ll get the option either to turn this feature off or on, depending on your current settings. The intent of this feature is to help users see trends related to those issues/places/people who matter most to them. Tailored trends takes into account a user’s location and those users he/she follows to come up with a list of trends that are relevant that user alone. With this feature turned on, the topics you see trending are no longer the same as what everyone else is seeing, but rather made just for you. What does this mean for trending topics in general? When your hashtag trends, it may not be seen by as many eyes as in the past, since everyone might not see the same trends. However, if you don’t succeed at making your hashtag trend on a worldwide (or countrywide/citywide scale), it still might have the ability to trend to your followers — or those who might really matter to you and who are already eager to hear what you have to say. Tailored trends might have put somewhat of a damper on widely-viewed trending topics, but on the flipside, the service might help topics that would normally have trouble trending on a large scale now get noticed more easily. On another note, if you are hosting a chat or party, and see your hashtag ‘trending,’ check to make sure whether or not you have tailored trends turned on. You just might be ‘trending’ to a limited audience, rather than citywide, nationwide, or worldwide.