Tuesday 2nd February 2016 by @NRCUK

The what, when, how, why and is it important guide to "trending on Twitter"

Your first encounter with trending  is or was probably somebody talking about something"trending" on Twitter.  This may have intrigued you to understand more about tweeting, or it may have confirmed that you totally don't "get" twitter as is just sounds more complicated than you can be bothered with. Hopefully this information will help regardless of where you are on the tweeting enlightenment path, so, here goes...

What is trending?
Trending is when the volume of tweets that contain hashtag (the # symbol) reaches a level where Twitter and its clever technology process (algorithms) decide that something special should be done about this flow of tweets. For those not familiar with using #'s visit the Twitterversity to learn more about them, they are covered in the Student Tweeter module.

When does trending happen?
As mentioned trending is defined as when a threshold of tweets using a # is reached, but, there are some important things to understand about when Twitter identifies to you that a # is trending. Tredning depends on how you've asked Twitter to tell you (what your settings are).

Twitter is used actively by over 300 million people a month and is used on lots of different platforms from to twitter provided apps on phones/tablets etc as well as 3rd party solutions like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (now owned by twitter). Each of these different methods of tweeting will have different ways of indicating what’s trending,  you can see Twitter's trending FAQ's here. Here's a simplified example of some different ways Twitter identifies trending #’s:

Trending in my location - you can set your location as the focus for trending, so if you are at an event in Nottingham where everybody in the room is using an event # it is likely that some passionate sharing will get the # trending, for those in Nottingham. If other's locations are set to UK then they might not see the # trending.

Trending in my network - your network is defined by who you follow, so if the people you follow have similar interests and passions to you and you are all tweeting using the same # then that # is likely to trend.

What this means is trending can be very personalised and can vary from one tweeter to another as trending is based on more than simply volume, so it is back to the clever algorithm folks at Twitter to work out what and when we see what is trending.

Why does Twitter tell us what is trending, should we even care?
One of the favoured aspects of Twitter over other socialmedia is that it is an open space conversation; we can see, connect, discuss and learn with people we don't know and don't even follow (yet). Having a method of highlighting trending #’s is a good way to help you see what you might be missing. A “what’s trending” list affords you the opportunity to learn by watching the conversation or join in to engage with other tweeters you don't currently follow. Following those you’ve engaged with or identified via the trending # is a great way to add variety and value to your day-to-day twitter stream...much like you all do in our tweetchats.

Is trending important?
Well, that depends on your objective! Should you aspire to have your conference or tweetchat or campaign trend, what does trending prove and is it a measure of success? We can’t answer that for you but suffice to say the founder of nurse tweetchats @agencynurse knew that as long as a tweetchat generated a conversation between two nurses, where there was mutual exchange of value and this supported practice positively, then that was a job well done.

There are lots of ways to get trending…brands send out offers or news, “celebs”can be controversial and the media can create and share provocative content whilst some get political, but does getting a # trending deliver value, well, it might. Here at We we are happy to be focused on value and not dwell on numbers, though the communities do like to see the numbers they’ve created from time-to-time. Given what we’ve learned here, that trending can have a variety of connotations, it is certainly important to have clarity about to what degree a # is trending before reflecting on its value or sharing that it is.

And finally – some thoughts on trending by way of suggested Do’s and Don’ts
Do – check in on them from time to time, they may help you add variety and value to your twitter experience by broadening your twitter following with new tweeters you wouldn’t meet any other way.
Do – be professional, polite and engaging when joining a trending #, some can be on quite emotive given the nature of what topics and #’s trend
Do – be clear about why a # is trending, especially if you are using it as a success measure, see “why does tending happen above”; staking a claim that something is trending on a micro level to a macro audience may undermine your achievements or cast doubt on your understanding of the metric

DON’T – ever tweet that a # is trending!!! There are spambots (programs that tweet send automated tweets) out there that listen for trending #’s and will bombard it with automated tweets, this can disrupt the conversation and seldom adds value. Don’t be the person that plagues a # with unwanted spam by tweeting that "#XYZ is now trending"
DON’T – try to hijack a trending # with your content, not only is this against Twitter's rules (yes, Twitter has rules) and therefore may get your account blocked, it also doesn’t work; You wouldn’t gate-crash a book club to sell spanners, we hope, so don't gate crash #'s either.
DON’T – be fixated by getting a # trending as a core measure of success, refer back to the last "Do" above, be sure about understanding how a # is trending before using it as a measure
DON’T – ever tweet that a # is trending, (again) important enough to check you didn’t miss it first time


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{{Comment.DateCreated | date:"dd MMMM yyyy HH:mm"}}
10 February 2016 14:39
Hashtags are so useful - but it's frustrating that we can't utilise them as a way of automatically following people who use them - or auto-retweet responses to a "We" account with the correct hashtag during a tweetchat.

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