How Trending Social Media Trends Are Determined


Trending is a way for social media users to discover and discuss hot topics. Trends show up in a social media platform’s “Explore” or ‘Trending’ section, and often include popular hashtags, keywords, phrases, or events. Trends can originate from current news, cultural and other events, viral content, or even online campaigns and challenges. Trends can be localized to a specific community, or can have an impact on a global scale.

Trends can also be determined by algorithms in place on Twitter and other social platforms. These algorithms are designed to identify and highlight the most popular discussions at a given time. Trending algorithms favor sharp spikes over gradual sustained growth. A single day’s growth could make a hashtag trend, while 30 days of consistent growth might not.

A trend’s popularity depends on many factors, including the topic, event, or issue, how widely it is shared, and its timeliness. A recent tragedy, for example, is likely to spur conversations and increase visibility on a social media platform more quickly than a long-term topic of interest.

It’s important for brands, influencers, and social media managers to stay informed about the trends that are emerging on their preferred platforms. By staying on top of the trends, they can ensure their content is relevant to their audience and can take advantage of any opportunity for engagement.

Keeping track of trends can also help marketers identify opportunities for campaigns, new products or services, or ways to promote existing ones. For instance, if there’s a sudden and dramatic spike in search for a particular term, it’s a good indicator that people are curious about something, and might be interested in learning more.

However, it’s important to understand how trends are determined in order to avoid abusing them. Inappropriate trends can draw ire from the community and lead to account suspension. For example, a social media post about an event or topic that isn’t related to the hashtag or keyword being used can cause a trend to disappear as soon as it begins.

To avoid being accused of abuse, it’s best to create an ask that is thoughtful and strategic, rather than simply asking followers to use a certain hashtag or tag. For example, instead of simply asking people to “use this hashtag; we want to trend!”, provide the hashtag, target, and the time period you’d like them to use it for, along with a few sample messages to grease their creative engine. This will ensure that when they do use the hashtag, it’s in a way that will increase their chances of trending. It will also give them an incentive to continue using the hashtag when they get a boost in visibility. As with any social media strategy, it’s crucial to test the waters first with a few smaller experiments before trying something larger. If done properly, leveraging trends can have an incredible impact on brand awareness and engagement. It just takes some careful planning and execution!