Trending is an algorithmic way of showing what people are searching for, posting and talking about. It started on Twitter using hashtags (words or phrases preceded by a # symbol) but now most social media and news sites have some kind of trending list. These lists can be found on the home pages of sites, as well as in search results. They are determined by analyzing keywords and topics that have been searched for in a given time period, taking into consideration the location of the user, what they have already liked or searched and who they follow on the site. Trending also considers how quickly a topic is growing, with sudden spikes in volume being more indicative of a trend than gradual, sustained growth over time.
A trend can reflect anything that seems popular at a given time, from pop culture and entertainment to news and politics. It can even be a one-time event like the premiere of a new television show. This kind of topic is often a great opportunity for marketers, bringing attention to their brand and product, hopefully leading to more sales.
While it is easy to think that a trend is something that a business can jump in on to promote itself, businesses need to be very careful about how they approach and utilize trends. Getting a trending topic wrong can be extremely damaging, and in some cases even dangerous. For example, last week YouTube’s Trending section came under fire after a video from Felix Kjellberg, popular YouTube creator known as PewDiePie, appeared at the top of the list claiming that students who were killed in the Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were “crisis actors.”
In terms of how to take advantage of trends, it is important to understand what creates a trend. Twitter’s algorithms look for sharp spikes in activity over a short amount of time, with a preference for sudden surges over sustained increases over longer periods of time. The company also limits the kinds of content that can appear in a trending topic to ensure that it doesn’t “amplify hate speech, misinformation or conspiracy theories.”
While you can’t control what is shown as a trend on your personal Twitter account, you can change the locations where you see these lists by going to the settings page and selecting your desired region. You can also select which types of searches to include in your personalized trending topics. This is helpful when you want to be sure that you are only seeing a trending topic related to your specific interest, such as local events or news. It’s also a good idea to check out your own website’s search analytics, which will give you an indication of what is trending on your site, as well as what people are searching for. In many ways, these are the same statistics that Google uses to determine its trending lists. For this reason, you’ll likely see some of the same topics appearing on both sites.