Trending is the term given to keywords or hashtags that are being discussed en masse on social media at any particular moment. Twitter and Facebook highlight trends as a way to encourage discussion, engagement, and awareness of certain issues or events. The popularity of a trend can make it a great tool for businesses, influencers, and individuals to get visibility in their target markets. Trends are often influenced by the political scene, popular culture, or even just by the weather.
It is important to understand that the trending topics that are displayed on your Twitter or Facebook account are based on your location, the people you follow, and the content you like. This is a system that has been in place for some time now and it is very difficult to manipulate. In fact, breaking Twitter’s rules on trends can result in a temporary suspension of your account.
The reason why it is hard to manipulate trends is that the algorithm that shapes the trending topics lists considers both the volume of tweets on a topic and the relative spike in popularity over time. It is for this reason that it is important to choose a unique hashtag for your campaign and not just an existing one that already has a built-up history, as it will be harder to achieve a substantial relative spike. It is also important to be strategic about when you try and trend, as you don’t want your hashtag competing with a big event or something else that is attracting a lot of attention at the time.
Despite the difficulty of manipulating trends, it is still possible to get a topic into the trending list by using various strategies. Creating a hashtag that has no other relevance to any other topics is one of the best ways to increase your chances of it being selected, as is creating a hashtag with a clear call-to-action and ensuring that the hashtag appears in your message. It is also a good idea to create a hashtag around an event or specific time period, as this will help to keep the topic alive and relevant for a longer period of time.
YouTube’s trending section has recently come under criticism after a video claiming that a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim was a crisis actor made it into the top five of the trending topics list. The company has stated that they are taking steps to make the trends section less prone to user manipulation, but it is clear that the problem remains.
If your business does decide to attempt to be a trending topic, it is important to remember that this is an opportunity for free publicity. Therefore, your ask should be more thoughtful and strategic than simply “use this hashtag; we want to trend.” Instead, you may need to give the directions of how to use it, when to do so, and maybe a couple of sample messages for them to grease the creative engine.