Creating Valuable Content That Drives Trends on Twitter

Creating Valuable Content That Drives Trends on Twitter with Rose Horowitz

“You’re trending!”

Well, isn’t that the dream for all Twitter users? However, as beneficial as it is for a brand to trend on social media—even if only for a while—it’s also highly controversial and difficult at times.

Not to mention all the confusion around how to go about trending on Twitter in the first place, or if you should try to at all.

There are just so many questions. So we decided to get some answers. We invited Rose Horowitz, journalist, social media professional, and founder of the #WomenToFollow movement, to shed some light into all things trends.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Rose Horowitz
Topic: Creating valuable content that drives trends on Twitter
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What does it mean to trend on Twitter?

You’ve probably seen trends on the right side of your Twitter feed. That’s a list of hot topics currently under discussion in your region, or in a place you choose. Like Eddie explained, it’s when Twitter identifies specific topics and hashtags that get a lot of attention in a little time.

If your content triggers a massive, possibly global, response, then chances are, you’ll become a trend. That said, however, know that trends are just that—a few seconds of fame, as Charles reminded us.

How do you know if you’re trending? Like our guest pointed out, you’ll suddenly see people engaging with your content—by liking, retweeting, replying, and sharing it in their networks. If you had introduced a hashtag, people will adopt it in such a way that it becomes the most talked about thing on Twitter for a while.

Rose shared an example: She created the #WomentoFollow hashtag to showcase some incredible women in her industry. Soon enough, people across industries tagged follow-worthy women, along with the hashtag.

It became a powerful and consistent movement.

Q2: How do you set yourself up to start a trend on Twitter?

As our friends from Killi rightly said, research is the key. The more you know about what people are looking for and how they engage with such content, the easier it becomes for you to tailor your messages accordingly.

Rose said something on the same lines. She suggested following specific people on Twitter. Identify the industry or area of expertise that interests you most and follow top tweeters from those areas. That way, you’ll learn how best to engage with their content and overtime, start generating meaningful engagement by yourself.

Trending is generally an ambitious goal. There’re a lot of unpredictable factors involved in the process. That’s why Elena’s point is great. She talked about using live events like conferences, online webinars, and trade shows as an ideal opportunity to trend.

Q3: What should you avoid if you’re trying to create a trend on Twitter?

The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to trend on Twitter is that you should never propagate content or people you’re not familiar with. Like our guest said, if you’re retweeting someone’s article, make sure you’ve read the piece and that the user is respectable. Every tweet that goes from your profile, even if it’s a retweet or a reply to someone else, is a way for your audience to see what you stand for. Be wary of damaging your reputation.

Also, don’t ever be salesy. While sharing external links on Twitter, be careful that they are not overly promotional. No one likes being sold to and if you’re consistently doing that, like Bruce pointed out, you’re begging attention. That’ll drive your audience away from you and the content you’re hoping to trend.

A few other things to keep an eye out for, as Bernie and our community suggested, are spam, irrelevant topics, outdated content, and spelling mistakes.

Q4: How valuable is it for a brand to trend on Twitter?

We often talk about how you shouldn’t jump on a trending bandwagon just to get attention. If not done properly, that could do more harm than good. However, if you start a conversation that goes on to trend on Twitter, then it could be a huge benefit for your brand.

For example, every week during the #TwitterSmarter chat, thousands of people tweet using the hashtag. Because of the sheer volume of conversations around that specific hashtag, it often trends in the US for an entire hour. This attracts more people into the chat and the community.

Similarly, Rose’s #WomenToFollow initiative also gave rise to many other movements around equality—like April’s #OscarsSoWhite hashtag during the 2015 awards.

When you think about what consumers want to hear most from brands, it’s all about the values and causes that a brand stands for. Over and over again, we’ve seen big brands trending whenever they make a stand on social causes. One example Rose shared was about Citi and how they started a discussion about equal wages.

Rose also shared a couple of articles that you might find useful. Here’s a study jointly published by AdAge and Twitter that helps brands understand how to be more culturally active and, therefore, relevant for their consumers.

Here’s another article that outlines the top 5 social media trends you should watch out for in 2020.

Q5: What are some alternative ways to increase your reach without trending?

Let’s face it: Not everyone can trend on Twitter. There’s just so much competition and too many variables you can’t keep track of.

That said, though, there’re other ways to increase your reach as well.

It may not be as instantaneous as a hot trend, but like Joana said, if you’re consistently sharing contextual content that increases your community’s learning, then you’re well on your way to success. The more people like your message, the more they’ll share it with others, spreading your reach and your brand. Aim for Joana’s Fab Four: consistency, context, content, and community.

Rose echoed Joana’s points as well. She also said that being such an open and democratic platform, Twitter and its users are broadminded. If you share useful content, they’ll become your biggest fans and regular cheerleaders. Follow others who add value to their community, engage with them and you’ll learn how to nurture your own community.

Q6: Should you jump on an existing trend?

We’ve talked about this before as well. And the verdict is, don’t jump on a trend unless it’s relevant to what you do and makes sense for you to contribute to it. Gabriela gave us a clear picture of how to go about it.

If the trend aligns with your brand’s purpose, tone, goals, values, and audience, then yes, you should jump on a trend. Otherwise, stay away.

If you’re jumping on a trend, though, do it early on, as our guest recommended. That way, you’ll still have time to meet new people without being overrun by tweets, as well as find your own interesting angle on the topic.

So when everyone was talking about the lack of women in the nominations for best director, Rose found that out of the five nominated best documentaries, four of them had women co-directors. She capitalized on that piece of information and got a lot of attention as well.

Q7: Is there a secret formula to writing a trending tweet or article?

It’s almost impossible to identify a secret formula for social media success. It’s all hard work and consistent effort.

However, you can still gradually make progress towards trending. For instance, as Rose said, collecting and generating good content, showcasing your expertise in the industry, and writing evergreen blogs and articles that’ll remain relevant over time are all great ways for you to build the authority that’s necessary to give you a boost when you do trend.

Another good way to approach trends is to trigger your audience into engaging with you. This could be short, snappy, and useful tips and topics, or something more controversial like Mike suggested. Be careful though, you don’t want to breach your brand guidelines. No one wants to trend for all the wrong reasons.

Q8: What should you do if your tweet or article starts trending on Twitter? How do you capitalize on it?

We think a lot about ways to trend and how we should go about doing it, but we often forget to plan for what to do afterwards. Rose gave us some idea.

When you realize that people are engaging with your tweets on a much higher rate than normal, don’t shy away from reciprocating. Respond to them, have a conversation, and find ways to grow and continue that relationship in your community.

Similarly, if you see that someone who’s engaged with your content has the same values and interests as you do, then actively follow them and start commenting on their content. You shouldn’t expect to get all the attention without giving anything back. That’s not how social media works.

This is also a good time for you to check in on your profile. If you’re getting a lot of engagement, then it means people will look at your bio, your profile picture, and your content. Make sure you’re presenting yourself as you like to.

Well, folks, that’s all from me. Thanks a lot for reading, and if you’d like to see more insights from our chat, check out this Twitter Moment our team member Joana put together. And if you have some time to spare on Thursday, join us for the next #TwitterSmarter chat at 1pm ET.


About me, Narmadhaa:

I’m a writer of all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

Say hello: Personal blog | LinkedIn | Twitter